By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)
A heavy sense of dread filled every inch of my body. As I stood still in the room, haunting and chilling sounds echoed around, the sheer darkness engulfing the screen making everything far more fearful than I had anticipated. With one foul swoop, my misery was brought to an end after minutes of excruciating waiting, Jason’s face adorned on the screen.
Sadly, this wasn’t genuine gameplay from IllFonic’s Friday The 13th Game, rather the main menu that anyone unfortunate enough to play a game at launch was forced to endure for hours on end. The Kickstarter-funded project is one that has been eagerly anticipated by many with the infamous horror icon Jason Voorhees being part of gaming since the old NES days. Now, with updated graphics and such, a passionate team could finally make a solid Crystal Lake simulator that would be fun for both the masked killer and the teens unlucky enough to come across him.
Unfortunately, the end product feels more like a half-baked game than one worth the £30 it’s asking for. The first thing players will notice, that is if they can still get past the server issues that plague the game more than a week after launch, is just how off the game looks. Obviously, no one is expecting a beautiful game considering the game’s budget, £1 million is nothing compared to most AAA games that cost 100 times that, but it’s no excuse for how awful some of the characters look.
A notable one has to be Chad Kensington, one of the few characters that you’ll remember due to how laughably bad his animation is during the intro, his jaw wide open like he’s just discovered the slam tent at T In The Park. When a game is trying its very best to be a scary experience, it seems detrimental for the plastic models to take you out of the moment.
Graphics don’t make a game, though, so it’s worth inspecting the gameplay of Friday The 13th, one area where both the game’s best and worst elements lie. As you may expect, you get to jump into the sludgy, swamp water filled boots of Jason and take on the role to kill all the counsellors in a set amount of time.
The asymmetrical nature is one that should offer a fair amount of challenge while also making things fair though this isn’t usually the result. More often than not, counsellors will find themselves glitching onto trees or other objects (God knows why they didn’t include a jump button to help with traversal) while running away from Jason who, without a moment’s notice, can zoom right next to you and choke you to death or some other visceral way. While these moves are just as cheesy as they are gruesome, finding yourself cheated by the game makes it more enraging than it does entertaining.
Speaking of Jason though, IllFonic have done a good job in making a simulator of sorts. Your abilities don’t feel slapped on for the game’s sake, rather tieing in well with the subject matter, much like the aforementioned zoom mechanic which explains why the horror villain so often pops up everywhere both in game and film.
The most fun moments occur when Jason and the counsellors meet, usually with the latter stuck in a cabin while Jason waits eagerly outside. With headphones on, the chilling music and wonderful sound design applied to Jason’s movement and actions do evoke a great sense of dread that leave you wishing the game would do this regularly.
Sadly, you’ll find yourself rummaging through drawers more than you will running for your life which becomes rather monetonous. On top of this is just how downright buggy the game is: doors sometimes don’t close, windows often dissapear and perks nine times out of ten don’t work, making all those CP (the game’s currency) you spent pretty much worthless. One glitch occured during a game between friends where one player, after exiting a tent, ended up floating in the air and onto the huge house beside before twerking on top of it, leaving the Jason in the game frustrated. While it was hilarious, being on the receiving end isn’t and with the price being rather steep, it’s no wonder many are angry that they’re getting a game that isn’t complete.
On top of that, many have complained of Jason being overpowered and with games lasting up to 20 minutes, having to watch other players hide for 10 minutes in a cupboard never gets any less dull, something that could be negated with games being shorter, forcing players to hurry up with their escape plan while encouraging Jason to do his job more efficiently.
It wouldn’t be fair to say there’s been no effort put into Friday The 13th, rather the team have tried various things with mixed results rather than focusing on a few and getting them bang on. While it’s more out of necessity than choice, a private game with you and seven of your friends is undeniably fun if you make sure to focus on having a laugh than genuine horror but that would only really pass if the game were free. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and as it stands, Friday The 13th is a confused mess that’s few glimmers of real, scary fun can’t help to iron out its flaws.