Okay firstly can I just say “KI KI KI, MA MA MA” has to be the most horrifying soundbite, ever recorded. It’s just plain crap your pants scary! And to make it worse when you hear it in game it means Jason has levelled up one of his 4 key abilities and now has a much easier way of finding you and killing you; but we’ll get back to that.
The background setting for the game is obviously the film franchise Friday the 13th, which admittedly I’ve not seen all of and the ones I have seen, I was probably about 13 myself. Kids growing up in the late 80s/early 90s will understand that these cheesy slasher flicks were massive. Big film posters, colourful VHS covers, scared half-naked teenagers and for some reason accessible to young teens (image that now!). I’ll always remember heading down to the local VHS store and renting Hellrasier with my buddy Matt. Probably the most scared I’ve ever been watching it in his bedroom at a sleepover. Looking back, kids watching that type of film wasn’t really a “thing”. At least it didn’t seem to be when I was growing up. Nowadays letting your kid watch something like the Evil Dead remake would be considered AWFUL parenting and I’d be inclined to agree… so were our parents less sensible, or was it just simply less media heightened? That’s a different debate, I digress completely.
Published by Gun Media and created by IllFonic, Friday the 13th – The Game, you play as the infamous Jason Voorhees or the absolutely terrified Camp Crystal Lake counsellors. It’s a very simple game of cat and mouse but with some key elements included to spice it up and scare the living shit out of you a lot of the time.
So when you enter the title screen, you’re greeted with a number of options, one of which is customise either your Jason or your counsellor (counsellors are the characters you play as when not playing as Jason). Here you can customise which counsellor setup you prefer, including their outfits and their perks. You’re given a choice of helpless teens to play as, all of which have different stats. Some favour stealth, some favour stamina, some favour repair and some are more composed in areas where another may scream and alert Jason to exactly where you are on the map. Depending on what style of play you’re into depends on what character you’re going to want to pick. So my recommendation would be to literally map it to your play-style, there’s no right or wrong answer in my opinion. Reliving my emo days, I tend to play as the rocker chick A.J Mason. She has good stamina and stealth, which suits my play-style as I like to sneak around undetected finding bits and bobs dotted around the map.
It’s similar with Jason, but in this case you’re offered a variety of Jason styles from the individual films, all of which have different strengths and weaknesses depending on which Jason you pick.
It’s worth noting that not all the characters are unlocked straight away, nor of all versions of Jason, so whilst levelling up you get the chance to experiment with different councillors and Jasons as you unlock more from playing the game.
Finishing matches allows you to level up, which in turn unlocks new perks for both Jason and your councillors. The perks are on a “random roll” system. So for example my first perk I rolled was the ability to automatically start with a baseball bat and it gave me a randomly generated set of stats alongside it. As you level up you’ll roll more epic perks with epic stats, which will set you apart from the rest. It’s definitely an incentive to keep playing and try rolling better perks to suit your play-style.
So there’s a brief overview of the characters you can play as and the customisation to go with it. Let’s move onto gameplay.
The lobby allows for 8 players, one of which will be Jason. In quick-play matches you cannot choose to be Jason, but you can state your preference as either a counsellor, Jason or none. I can only assume if you pick Jason here you’ll be rolled alongside others in the lobby also wanting to play as Jason.
Now the beauty of this is that anybody could potentially start as Jason hunting down the counsellors. Many times I’ve played, ready to run and survive and it’s been revealed I’m the Jason for the match. So it’s quite exciting wondering if it’ll be your time to kill or your time to hide!
Keep your flashlight on to avoid your councillor freaking out!</strong>
Playing as Jason is a completely different game and I’d seriously recommend choosing to him in the preference I mentioned if you’re playing solo (we’ll come back to why). Your objective as Jason is simply kill the other 7 players playing as councillors. Over time throughout the 20 minute match you’ll develop a set of 4/4 abilities to use. A spawn ability, meaning you can spawn anywhere instantly on the map. A sense ability, where you enter a detective type mode and are able to see sounds in the distance in the form of pulsating circles. An invisibility ability, meaning you can chase down counsellors super quick without them knowing. And finally a stalk ability, where you’ll avoid appearing as a red icon on counsellor mini-maps when you attack.
You also have the ability to grab and perform executions, strike with your weapon (which varies depending which Jason you are) and breakdown doors. Stalking the councillors is extremely fun and because when using a mic the game basis what you can hear on proximity to other players. This can make for some really funny times, especially when playing with friends. It’s always good when you identify a target and chase them down and here the raw panic in their voice as they tell their friends “He’s here, oh God he’s after me”, to which some Jasons react spot on and start making extremely weird sounds down the mic to creep you out more.
Jason’s killed animations are ridiculous. Just like the films, they play homage to his epic and violent kill scenes and unlocking and equipping more as you level up in the game is a lot of fun. You can also interact with environmental kills which are equally as disturbing yet fun!
One thing I picked up on when playing the game was the mist ability, which lets you creep up and appear next to somebody quickly. I think personally this is a nod to horror films in general. You know the scenes where the girl is running full speed for 5 minutes, whilst to killer lethargically stalks her doing his nails and having a cup of tea. Yet when she stops for a breath, BANG, there he is. I guess what I’m saying is, try to think of Jason’s abilities as a nod to old skool slasher films, as opposed to abilities, this made it a lot more interesting a fun for me anyway.
Should you be skilled enough to kill all 7 councillors within the allotted 20 minute timeframe, you win the game! However, it’s not that simple… let’s move onto being a councillor.
Being a councillor for me is ALL about communication. If you don’t have it and you’re trying to solo through, then chances are you may well survive or escape, but not with all your team mates and stopping Jason from killing as many as your allies as possible is key.
When the game starts you’ll start off as counsellor you picked in the customisation area we spoke about, with the perks you’ve given to that specific councillor. You’re dropped into a random area of the map with nothing but the clothes on your back and tasked with simply surviving for 20 minutes or escaping. It feels extremely eerie and lonely at first, as you cannot hear anybody on microphone. Remember because it’s done by proximity, unless you’re physically near another play, you cannot speak to them and when you do meet up and start talking, remember Jason can here you too if he’s close enough!
So you start scavenging for weapons and items. If you’re lucky enough to come by a map, you can view the whole area (there’s also a perk allowing you to start with a map which is cool, but remember this is rolled at random) and if you find a walkie-talkie, as long as one of your allies has also found one, you can start to communicate through that. This is where it becomes interesting.
There are multiple ways to escape and win the match as a councillor. I won’t list them all due to spoilers, however for example you may find a gas can and a propeller for a boat dotted randomly around the map and then when you find the boat and add your items, you can escape by water. However, as items are randomly generated around the map itself when the game starts, it’s always different in each game as to where they might appear, so not as easy as one may think. To make things worse, to install the propeller or fill the gas tank you’ll need to interact with a little mini game where you’ll have to press one of the bumper buttons (on Xbox) whenever you’re told to, which is where the repair stats we mentioned earlier come good. Calling the police is another way to escape, but again to do this you’ll need to find a fuse randomly generated on the map, a phone randomly generated on the map and then allow 5 minutes before the police actually arrive. And to make it worse they will appear on one highway entrance on one of two different sides of the map. Again this is all randomly generated so no one game is the same, which works fantastically. Remember you’re doing all this whilst Jason is watching your every move. If you run to fast it’ll appear on this map, if your character sees a dead body and screams, it’ll appear on his map. If you mess up whilst interacting with a repair mini game, it’ll appear on his map and he’ll be after you in seconds.
One thing I’ve not mentioned when playing as a councillor is the music. My God the music. When Jason is near you the classic horror style music kicks in and it is frightening as hell. It also gives you a clear idea that he’s near you and probably after you personally, which is a terrifying thought!
Watch Peter (Hear Pete Roar) and JohnnyTrickshot take on Jason!
Houses and shacks are helpfully dotted around the map and inside there will be cupboards to hide in, beds to hide under and more importantly drawers to check for key items that may help you survive longer. One of my favourite items to find is the pen knife, giving you what is essentially a get out of jail free if Jason grabs you. You’ll automatically stab him in the neck and stun him for a few moments whilst you make a run for it.
Each house or shack also has the ability to lock the door (don’t forget some have a backdoor!). Jason will need to breakdown the door to get to you and whilst you can escape and enter through windows, he cannot, which can sometimes lead to a tense game of chicken between you and him and remember he may use his mist ability to speed towards you invisible.
All in all I so think the game is very balanced. These sort of games often spawn exploits which can ruin it for everybody, but Friday the 13th balances well, giving the counsellors the ability run, hide, get through windows and the opportunity to heal wounds, stun Jason and of course escape unharmed (good luck with that!). On the flip side, Jason is hard to outrun due to his abilities, and what he lacks in speed he makes up in brute force. If Jason is to grab one of the councillors, it’s essentially game over for them, he can use one of his tonnes of finishing moves to kill them in the most brutal way possible.
In terms of actual gameplay, sometimes it can be a bit clunky. Running into a rock and being caught, lazy animations which glitch out and can often look a bit silly. Or simply not getting into the exact position the game wants you to interact with an object and therefore wasting valuable seconds adjusting your feet. There’s also the facial animations of the councillors which are a bit cartoony or non-existent at times, which again I feel these of gripes can be fixed as the game gets bigger and better.
I don’t see this as a gamechanger though, especially when games like DayZ have thrived in the past with the exact same issues. If it’s fun and unique, people will enjoy it.
My biggest gripe is the price. Considering the issues I’ve mentioned above, it’s still a whopping £31.99 on console digital download, which seems very high considering it’s only got 3 maps and clear limited budget itself. I think £20 would have been much fairer, but it won’t stop people buying it and enjoying it.
My theory is the pound an hour theory. However many pounds you spend on a game, you expect that back in hourly gameplay and I can definitely see myself plunging more than 32 hours into it, especially if the rumoured bug fixes, extra animations, cut scenes and additional maps end up being included free. Bring that on!
Whether your play style is cat, or whether it’s mouse, it’s an extremely fun game but not without some minor flaws. What I will say is try to get a friend or 2 to buy it, I simply can’t see this game being as fun without creating awesome memories with friends, whether you’re the one chasing them down or working together to escape. I’ve already had an amazing moment hunting down my friend John as Jason and the fear in his voice down the mic when I appeared out of nowhere chasing him as he pleads for his life! Muahahaha.
Alternatively though, if you are a bit of a loner (and there’s nothing wrong with that), playing as Jason is brilliant on your own, listening to them conspire down their mics about how they plan to escape whilst you wait outside their shack waiting to pounce!
I’ve not experienced co-op horror like this since the first Left 4 Dead came out and whilst eventually you desensitise yourself to it, the initial set of matches are truly brilliant and bring another level of gaming you don’t often get these days. Minus the occasional crashing on Xbox One and infuriating wait for quick-play matches, which a patch is rumoured to fix this week; I take my hat off to the developers and congratulate them in creating a game on a genre they are clearly extremely passionate about. Bravo guys.
I give this a solid 3 robots out of 5!