If you were part of the NES era, you undoubtedly had rented Friday the 13th from LJN.
The game has become infamous online in the years since, for its backwards maps, confusing cabins, cheap and unavoidable hits, and a handful of useless counselors. While any game company thought this was prime gaming subject matter for the average 12 year old, the game’s iconic neon blue and purple rendition of Jason Voorhees still sticks in the gamer’s collective mind.
Jason hasn’t done much in video gaming since, save for a guest appearance in Mortal Kombat X. Considering how popular “Team Vs. Monster” multiplayer games have become, it makes sense to attempt the “slasher film” genre with one of the pioneers of body counts. A Kickstarter later (and I supported the game), Friday the 13th: The Game was released.
The concept is simple, and honestly the best way to present a Friday the 13th game: 8 players square up where seven players are camp counselors, and one gets to play as Jason. As you can imagine, if you’re not Jason, you are always on your guard.
The whole game is geared around fan service, and it shows. Right when you boot up the game, the audio/video quality has distortion effects of a VHS tape that has seen too many rentals. When things start going sour for a counselor, similar effects have been repeated as though fans rewound the tape for the “good parts”.
The game takes a variety of various camp locales such as Crystal Lake, though I haven’t seen some of the more exotic locales (such as The Grendel spaceship from Jason X) from the film series. Counselors are relatively weak, but can gather resources to survive the night, or materials to escape the campgrounds. You can even fight Jason, though don’t expect it to do very much, unless you proceed through a handful of very specific steps to not only unmask him, but “kill” him (for whatever that’s worth). Not only do counselors have to avoid Jason, but traps he lays out, and managing your own fear level. Get too scared, and vision limits to almost nothing, and you start stumbling around blindly.
As Jason, players kill. And kill with style with their favorite style of Jason from the various films. Fan favorite kills come into play, and they’re just as gory as you’d expect. While Jason is slow moving, he can sense fear like a magnet, and can fast travel and teleport to victim locations. Jason can also hinder rescue attempts, and just flat out ruin people’s day.
Still, you’ll know he’s coming when the “ki-ki-ki ma-ma-ma” music starts up.
The game is a love letter to Jason fans. Kane Hodder reprises his role as Jason. Thom Mathews, reprises Tommy Jarvis. Harry Manfredini continues his original film score, and Sean S. Cunningham gave his blessings on the rights to the whole thing. This is as “authentic” as it gets, right down to the end credit “He’s Back” song from Alice Cooper.
There are a few issues with the game at present. There is no single player campaign in the game as of this writing. And servers seem to take a while to get into. With any multiplayer game, either you get good players, or griefers that will turn on other players. And the “fear face” for counselors look more comical like their faces have been stretched for big teeth and bug eyes. Clipping through doors also seems to be a graphical error that stands out.
While both the counselors and Jason gain levels, they don’t improve based off who you play. You do, however, get new characters and abilities to unlock.
The game is clearly still a work in progress, reminding me of how Wii U’s Splatoon game grew with time. That said, developer IllFonic, and publisher Gun Media have taken to rewarding fans with their patience, having recently included extra stat bonuses for presently existing players and a skin that turns Jason… into his Retro NES neon blue and purple form.
If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.
The game’s concept is very promising, and should improve over the year. The game itself is exactly what you should expect from a title like this. Player chances as a counselor aren’t overly promising initially, but that’s also part of the fun, same as crushing heads with Jason.
There’s a lot of lore in the game if you are brave to venture deep enough….