Being a faithful fan of the movie franchise, I feel that “Friday the 13th: The Game” stays true to the source material and captures the essence of the highly successful film series perfectly. Having spent most of my free time playing this wonderful game, I thought I would share my thoughts and opinions on it, and state how well it does at creating a successful game based off a movie. Considering the reviews online were mostly negative, my expectations were blown away as soon as I began playing my first match, having no idea what to expect.With a number of the series’ veterans like Sean S. Cunningham, Kane Hodder and Tom Savini on-board with the project, it seems like this was a match made in heaven as the overall feel of the game is incredibly tense due to the effective use of music composed by Harry Manfredini ( the composer for the original ‘Friday the 13th’) who is also back on board to re-create and update the theme music for the game. Mixing the music with the atmospheric camp settings developed by IllFonic has achieved its goal of creating the ultimate fan experience.
The characters designed for the game manage to be very versatile yet stereotypical to the movie franchise. There are ten characters to choose from with an even ratio of men to women. Some of the characters need to be unlocked as you reach a higher level, so this allows the gamer to motivate themselves enough to gain more XP. We have the innocent final girl, the slut, the jock, the nice guy, the tomboy, the biker guy, the Gothic chick, the little rich white boy, the fat nerd and the sporty chick. There are no cut scenes in the game apart from the 10-second introduction of Jason at the beginning of a match, and the 20-second outro of Jason returning home to his mother’s corpse, so they have little chance to show their personalities. My personal favorites to play as are A.J. Mason (the Gothic chick) and Vanessa Jones (the sporty chick) because I feel like if these characters were involved in a sequel, they would be the characters that would survive Jason’s wrath, it helps that Vanessa has high stamina which gives her a higher chance of outrunning Jason. A.J. is also quite a stealthy character, so whenever I am in a match as her, I manage to hide easily from Jason and be able to trick him so he leaves the area that I am in. In my opinion, the game developers did a really great job of creating an intriguing and versatile cast, they manage to cover all ground and create a -for the most part- likable cast.
Nothing is more terrifying than playing as a camp counselor, the fear of not knowing where Jason is and the constant struggle of attempting to survive the 20 minute matches. However, they are not entirely helpless when it comes to taking Jason head-on. Although there is only one definite way of killing Jason (which I won’t spoil), there are several ways of attacking and slowing him down. When searching through the cabins, always be on the lookout for a pocket knife and fire-crackers in drawers as they really will help you, especially when Jason picks you up. There are a variety of weapons at the counselor’s disposal including machetes, baseball bats and fire pokers. A lot of the weapons you can use to fend off Jason have already been used in the movies, so the attention to detail that the game developers have given for it is incredible.
When playing a match, it is seen as essential to have a mic plugged in. In fact, most hosts will kick you from their session if you do not have a mic attached. Now, I do own a turtle beach mic and most of the time I will use it but I don’t think it is essential for surviving the night. In fact, most of the time you are plugging in your mic just to have the piss taken out of you if you make one bad decision, so sometimes I will just leave the mic out and play silently (when I can actually get a game without using a mic). I prefer to play without having to make awkward small-talk with a bunch of strangers I will never speak to again in 20 minutes time. With most online games, you will run into a lot of weird and annoying players. I’ve played with a bunch of 13-year old children before and it’s not pretty, they dishonor the franchise by suggesting ideas like “they should make a theme park map” and “what if Freddy Kruger was the main villain?” These ideas make me feel physically ill, now don’t get me wrong, these ideas are decent… but not for a “Friday the 13th” game where the vast majority of the screen time is set in Camp Crystal Lake! Jason has never went to a theme park and most likely doesn’t even know what one is, perhaps “Dead By Daylight” could use a theme park map as a valid suggestion, but not this game. Not if the game developers want to stay true to the franchise. Another thing that bugs me about online players is that when they play as Jason, they will make the most awkward noises in attempt to taunt you and it is really off-putting as I am used to Jason being the silent-but-deadly serial killer, I think the developers should update the game to mute Jason’s mic to keep the tension and fear alive. It’s not exactly the scariest chase scene when you can hear Jason’s squeaky voice repeating “I’m gonna getcha!” It’s cringe-inducing and completely unnecessary.
There are only three maps in the game (to date), and to someone who has never seen the movies, they can all seem extremely similar, but I personally loved exploring various familiar locations explored in the first three films, perhaps as the games content expands, they will provide us with maps from later entries in the series like the ship from “Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan”, or even the spaceship from “Jason X”. There is still a lot of potential and I believe that they can easily manage this. The game pays immense attention to detail with the environments, especially the interiors of the cabins. The material the cabins are made with, the style of the windows that the player crawls in-and-out of, the red doors that can be found on most cabins, the beach area where Mrs. Voorhees was decapitated. The building I was most pleasantly surprised with was Packanack Lodge from “Friday the 13th Part 2”. It looks exactly the way it did in the movie.
There are a variety of Jason variants to choose from, all with differing stats including strength and stamina which come in handy for chasing after counselors and breaking through doors with one strike of the axe. I appreciate that the developers took extra thought into making more than one Jason variant as he really does look different with every movie. There is the bag-head Jason from “Part 2” – my personal favorite, “Part 3”, “Part 6”, “Part 7”, “Part 8” and “Part 9” Jason. When the development team was doing a Kickstarter, I had absolutely no idea that this was happening until a few months ago, so unfortunately I missed out on donating to the Kickstarter, otherwise I could have gotten the ‘Savini Jason’ which looks absolutely insane! Tom Savini himself designed his own version of Jason, stating that it looks like what Jason would look like if he ever broke free from the hell that he was dragged into at the end of ‘Jason Goes To Hell’. His burnt black hockey mask, those fiery eyes… it looks absolutely terrifying! I still hold out hope for a ‘Jason X’ variant as the movie is an extremely guilty pleasure of mine. I also think it would be quite interesting to have a Pamela Voorhees variant, but the killer would have to be extra stealthy as she is just a normal woman who is grieving her son. I am extremely impressed by what the developers have done so far, I hope they continue to add more content. As time progresses, it could even become the next ‘Minecraft’ with how much updates it could receive.
Jason has a number of special abilities which allows him to have the upper-hand when chasing after his victims; the most common one that I use is Morph, this is the most useful tool as this allows him to stop the counselors from escaping in the car, boat or via the police. This also is a very reasonable explanation for the way he manages to be everywhere at once in the movies. The second ability he has is Sense, this can track any noise that the counselors make if they happen to be nearby, this will allow them to glow red and lets Jason know where to go in order to hunt them down. The third ability he has to offer is Shift; this allows Jason to disappear for a couple of seconds and transport himself closer to his victims with ease, but sometimes the controls will not allow Jason to stop in time to capture his next victim. The final ability is Stalk; this seems a bit unfair but overall the most realistic of Jason’s abilities as this allows him to creep up on his victims without that dreaded theme music playing in the background. In addition to this, Jason also has a Rage Mode which allows his strength to build up intensely as he can smash doors down with one axe swing, and sometimes being strong enough to just walk through the door.
Although there is a lack of content, I can say that it honestly doesn’t feel like it at all, having only bought the game over a week ago, I have already sank 38 hours and 23 minutes of play time just on the one mode, and it does not get repetitive or boring. In fact, it still feels very fresh and like there is always more content to be explored e.g. Just this morning I discovered that you could stab other counselors to death with a sharp weapon while playing as a counselor, this made for some fun Battle Royale-esque incidents. When I’m in a match, I always think of possible modes that the developers could add as time goes by, I even thought as far as a ‘Freddy VS. Jason’ mode where one player can play as Jason, and the other; Freddy! This could be a fighting game mode, or even a “who can kill the most counselors in a 10-minute session?” This is just one of the hundreds of ideas I have built up in my head, so I can only imagine what the developers are conjuring up as I type this review.
Moving along to the technical aspects of the game, a lot of people have been complaining about the lag that they receive, or their connections cutting out. This has happened to me more times than I would have liked, but I don’t think its worth bringing down the game in its entirety just for a couple of cut outs. Personally, I find the lag to be quite humorous, like when a female counselor is grabbed by Jason, her hair flies and glitches around like a helicopter, it’s weird but funny.
However, it can be enraging when Jason is nowhere to be found when suddenly you blink your eyes and he is cutting his axe straight into your shoulder. This is both infuriating and scary as hell. There has been a few times where I have gotten an achievement and the connection has cut out, causing me to lose my badge (there are 30 badges you have to earn as a counselor). But it is not worth complaining about too much as overall my experience with the game has been fun, over-the-top and terrifying. The game developers have recently installed an update to fix the servers and treat the fans that have bought the game to a nice surprise in the form of Retro Video-Game Jason, including his own personal theme tune and trailer. I was amazed by this, because I am a huge fan of this design; blue and purple are my favorite colors, so mixing them with one of my favorite fictional serial killers was a dream come true. They truly know what the fans want.
Alongside Retro Jason, we were also treated to 13,000 Customization Points and a Double XP weekend that is ongoing. The updated servers are working so much better than what they were prior to the update, although I still find myself getting kicked randomly from matches sometimes, but even the graphics seem better. With an upcoming single-player campaign mode planned for Summer 2017, there is still plenty to look forward to, I don’t know how they are going to go about doing a story mode, if the player will play as Jason or as one of the counselors, but it has been revealed that some of the missions will be adaptations of the films which I am very intrigued by.
Having considered all aspects of the game, I conclude that the maps feel and look exactly like how the camps do in real life, the character designers have done an incredible job of creating a broad selection of counselor’s that all have their own advantages and disadvantages, the Jason variants are very different in their killing styles and physical attributes which allows the gamer to differentiate between them, the inclusion of Tommy Jarvis if one of the players manages to contact him in-game, the updates have fixed most of the bugs that were plaguing the game upon release, the developers clearly care about the fans as they have apologized and made up for their servers by providing us with the one of the coolest Jason Voorhees variations there are out there, the amount of Easter eggs and references in the game cannot be counted on one hand allowing true fans of the movies to have an extra reason to come back to the game, the variety in the costumes, perks, getaways and in the maps blew my expectations out of the water and successfully creates the perfect video game for a “Friday the 13th” fan.