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'Friday the 13th' Game Review

Survival Horror Games Reviews by Sebastian Howard

By Sebastian HowardPublished 7 years ago 10 min read
My favorite Jason skin.

Friday the 13th and Jason Vorhees, probably the second biggest horror franchise right behind Nightmare on Elm Street. The films, while some are better than others (I'd say the best ones are Part 2", Part 4: Jason Dies and Part 7 ala Jason vs Carrie) all (well except for part 9 and part 10) all have a certain atmosphere to them that makes even the worst of the series, that makes them just work. Camp Crystal Lake is extremely eerie at night, imagine being in that situation, imagine being in one of the camps from the films and trying to survive Jason. That's such a good, simple premise that's it amazing that it hasn't been done before as a video game. Or imagine BEING Jason and just straight up gutting counselors. That's the experience this game tries to duplicate and it does a fairly good job.

Looking at the character of Jason Vorhees, it's kind of bizarre to think how popular he really is. His origin is that of a small retarded boy, drowning to death in a lake, due to being picked on by a bunch of other kids who don't like Jason's deformities or his retardation. The counselors are of course, too busy fucking to care. What's interesting about this set up is that it wasn't originally meant to be really about Jason, it was supposed to be about Jason's Mother, Pamela Vorhees. It preyed on the fear of having a son killed and was meant to give a somewhat sympathetic backstory to Pamela. I mean who wouldn't go crazy if they had their only son killed?

Pamela ended up getting her head chopped off though and everything seemed right with the world... until Friday the 13th Part 2 where Jason came back from the dead and stuck a knife into the one remaining counselor from the first movie. Jason, originally, and you can tell this from playing the game, there wasn't really anything extraordinary or supernatural about him. He was a pretty straight forward 70s/80s slasher, he could run, he could hurt, hell in the second movie he just kills people with weapons, no punches through the chest or crushing someone's head. Slowly Jason started transforming into something else, he became superhero strong, became pretty much invincible and could catch people without running.

Anyway, this game came about due to Sean Cummingham, who had heard that Illfonic wanted to use Camp Forest Green in Slasher Vol. 1: Summer Camp. After talking, they decided to agree to do the game but hey, games don't come cheap. Executive director and producer Randy Greenback organized both a BackerKit and a Kickstarter campaign to fund the game's development. Overall, US $422,866 was raised by 18,068 backers in BackerKit and about US $823,704.20 from 12,128 backers in Kickstarter, collecting about US$1,246,570.20 from both platforms, becoming the 95th most crowdfunded project of all time. That's pretty impressive, and the game footage looked extremely exciting. People were pretty much salivating to play this game due to the trailers and the people who had dumped money into the Kickstarter and pre-ordered the game couldn't wait. The release date was set for October 2016... and then October 2016 came and went and nothing happened. After this, we were kept in a seemingly endless waiting game for the ACTUAL game to come out. Eventually, we got an update saying that we had to wait till Spring of 2017 because they wanted to update parts of the game and add a single player mode. Well April came and went and nothing happened, people were getting really, really restless.

Finally, the game came out on May 26, 2017. FINALLY, we could play this sweet game that we've been waiting forever to play. Except there was no single player mode like originally promised, so you HAD to play online. That means if you weren't hooked up with PS Plus or X-Box Live you were fucked. Then when you did go to play online the servers were completely fried. You could wait upwards of 15 minutes to get a match going and even then the game could just give up and put you in your own little room to start a game. There were also tons of glitches, hosts leaving in the middle of the games, not being able to mute people in the middle of games and other bullshit.

However, while the game's online features are still wonky at times (the wait time still takes too long sometimes) for the most part it runs decently online. However, does the game live up to the promise of the original premise? I think, for the most part, yes.

The game's basic concept is this, go online, get into a room and play as either one of the counselors (you can pick which counselor you want to be) or if you're REALLY REALLY lucky you can be Jason himself (you get multiple skins from various movies as evidenced by the photo in this review). As a counselor, you can team up with other counselors and try to work together to escape or take down Jason or you can go solo and try to survive by yourself. Both ways have their positives and negatives but it's not necessarily as simple as that. You might try to go solo but see someone with say, gasoline, and you'll want to protect that person as they go to put the gas in the car, giving you more of a chance to survive. Being with a bunch of people might make it a bit easier to fight Jason if he comes at you but it's also much easier for Jason to find you if you're in a group.

However, if you're completely alone, while harder to find you you've also got to try to fight and outrun Jason all by yourself. It's very strategic but also straight up scary and nail biting. You might find yourself making mistakes due to the music, whenever Jason's getting closer to you the music will get louder and louder (unless Jason's going Stalk Mode which allows him to come up to you without any music). You might have been safe staying under the bed and then you leave and Jason's standing right there, or you might stay under the bed and get killed when you should have left.

As a counselor, you have a lot of ways to escape but none of them are easy. One of the easier, but more boring, ways of surviving is to hide somewhere. Under a bed, in a closet, Jason has this Sense ability and can not see you when you're hidden, the only way he's going to get you like this is if he ends up near you and can hear you breathing. Each game is timed, around 15 minutes so if you want to just lay under a bed and hope Jason doesn't find you, you could live through the game like that. The other alternatives, then just running out of time, are escaping through car, which you have to repair, a boat, which you also have to repair (this is probably the riskiest as Jason can easily glide through the water and take you out of the boat), call the cops and get to a certain area so you can get picked up by them, which of course you have to repair a phone box to use and again you could just cat and mouse it with Jason until time runs out. You can also call Tommy Jarvis (though the time range makes NO GODDAMN SENSE, the three maps you can go to, depending on which you're on, you're either in 1980 or 1984, Tommy Jarvis was a KID who killed Jason in 1984, then somehow grew up to be an adult by 1986 and fought Jason again in part 6, but in 1980 and 1984 Tommy was DEFINITELY not an adult nor had he dealt with Jason) and one of the players, possibly you, after getting killed, will come back as Tommy who comes in there with a shotgun and really good stamina.

As a counselor, you can get weapons but you kind of have to live with whatever you can get your hands on. Sometimes you'll get real lucky and get a shotgun, other times you'll end up with a baseball bat and sometimes, if you're really lucky you'll get a branch! You can also set traps, lock doors and look through desk drawers trying to get items you need to escape. It definitely feels like an old school, kind of RE-like system, while also feeling like a modern video game AND feeling very 80s at the same time. Not an easy thing to pull off but this game does it very well. You can pick up some things that help you, like first aid spray, pocket knives which allow you to get out of Jason's grabs, firecrackers and some other things. You can also screw with the radio but if you turn it on make sure you're prepared as Jason can easily sense it.

As a counselor the game doesn't always work, sometimes you can get killed early, sometimes you can have some asshole from the same group of counselors kill you and sometimes you just get sick of it and want to be Jason. However, when it works, it WORKS. Sometimes you'll be in a deadly cat and game with Jason, you'll be the last one left, you're trying to lock the doors, stun him with a baseball bat, start the car, whatever. The game works because these parts are genuinely suspenseful and scary.

There are no rule, like you get kind of used to in most survival horror games, there's no real story either beyond survive and escape (well Jarvis has a bit of a story but it never goes beyond him coming back to finish off Jason and if you can accomplish a REALLY complicated set of objectives, you can kill Jason with Tommy which definitely does have story repercussions but the list of objectives are so damn long and you have to have your timing so right that I've never actually seen anyone kill Jason in any game I've been in). Anyone can be killed at any time and the only thing that's going to let you live longer is skill. You not only need to outrun and escape Jason, you've got to try and out think him too. I think this part of the game is probably as well done as possible and it has problems but can be really damn exciting and suspenseful when you're having a good game.

However, that's nothing compared to the other side of the coin, actually BEING Jason. That shit is SO damn fun. You start off in a cabin with your dead mom's head and her sweater just chilling on an alter and Jason hears Pamela telling him to kill them all. Those bastards, they need to get it! You have four abilities as Jason, Morph, which allows you to transport in Evil Dead cam, Teleport, which allows you to pick where on the map you want to go and teleport there, Sense, which allows you to see if there are any counselors around you as long as they're not hiding and Stalk, which allows you to get close to counselors without any music alerting them.

Again, playing as Jason is really fun. Catching someone who's been evading you for a long time feels so rewarding. Sometimes you'll play a cat and mouse game with someone just for the hell of it and other times you might just be genuinely annoyed with someone. The satisfaction of killing someone who is talking shit to you on a mic is so great. Morphing and off screen teleporting allows you to get someone who thinks they're getting away and stalk makes it so they never even have a chance to get started.

Different Jason's have different abilities, Jason in Part 2 and 3 can run but any Jason after that can't. However, the Jason's from Part 6 and upward are stronger. Each Jason has their own strengths and weaknesses. One of the things with Jason vs the counselors is that Jason doesn't run out of stamina where the counselors do. However, Jason does have to wait before reusing his abilities, after you use an ability you have to wait as it recharges so it kind of evens out but if you're using a Jason who can run you definitely have an advantage as you can morph, teleport and run which I think is why I see most people using Part 2 and Part 3 Jason's. You can also customize each Jason with weapon kills or physical contact kills. What I usually like to do is give the Jason's all the weapon kills they get with whatever weapon they're using (each Jason only gets three weapon kills) and then give them one kill from whatever movie they're from (Part 2 gets nothing but weapon kills, Part 3 gets the head crushing kill, Part 6 gets something similar to breaking the cops spine, Part 7 gets the punch through the chest, and Part 8 gets the punch that takes a dude's head off).

I think this game works really well as a straight up horror game, the level of utter violence is pretty nice considering that in the movies the MPAA started chopping scenes out around the sixth movie. The game, as a counselor or as Jason is pretty fun, but it's definitely MORE fun as Jason. The only problem I have with the game is that you simply need something else to do, some kind of story or single player mode because playing as counselors all the damn time gets kind of old. Still though, I'd say as a lifelong fan of Friday the 13th, this game definitely satisfies my expectations. I'd give it a 4.0/5.0.


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    Sebastian HowardWritten by Sebastian Howard

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