Friday the 13th: The Game Review

Friday The 13th is an asymmetrical online survival-horror experience from developers IllFonic. One player controls Jason Voorhees, the iconic slasher villain from the titular movie series, while up to seven others play as the camp counselors. The counselors need to escape with their lives by either finding a way out of the camp, or surviving until the timer runs out. Jason has to hunt them down. Think of it like playing hide and seek. If you were playing hide and seek with an invincible lunatic that wanted to kill you.

My very first match, I was lucky enough to play as Jason. My objectives were made clear by the voice of my dead mother. Unsurprisingly, she wanted me to kill them. Kill them all. So I set to it, stalking around camp Crystal Lake, busting open cabin doors and murdering the terrified teens inside. They tried to run, but thanks to Jason’s ‘shift’ ability, I was able to close the gaps with ease. They tried to hide, but with Jason’s ‘sense’ ability they stood out like sore thumbs. Jason can teleport, so I was everywhere at once. One by one they were hunted down and brutally murdered. I slammed a guys head in a door. One woman went headfirst into the fireplace. I choked someone to death. Nobody survived. It was macabre fun for a fan of the slasher genre.

Playing as the teenage victims is also a blast, but in a completely different way. Jason is hilariously overpowered, so death is pretty much around every corner. You’ll duck from cabin to cabin, searching for items needed to aid your escape from the masked maniac. If you find enough items, maybe you can fix the car and get out of dodge. Just hope Jason doesn’t teleport in front of it at the last second and pull you out through the window. You could call the cops, but how do you know he won’t be waiting patiently near the exit, ready to chop you to pieces? Maybe just hide under a bed? It’s these little moments of knowing that Jason can pop out of nowhere and eviscerate you that really allow Friday The 13th to recreate the feeling of the movies. It’s just a shame the whole thing feels so unfinished.

The game manages to craft some incredibly atmospheric moments; Camp Crystal Lake has been accurately recreated, and having Jason on your tail is genuinely terrifying. It’s just let down by a lot of little things. The controls can feel a little clunky at times, which wouldn’t be the worst thing on its own, but the character animations are also pretty substandard. Running, turning, interacting with objects; a lot of the time it will look just glitchy enough to ruin the immersion, with characters sliding magically into place to close windows or open drawers. There are also a ton of clipping issues, and actions such as climbing through a window with an object in hand could have been given that tiny bit of care to make them smoother.

So it doesn’t look the best, which is a shame. The sound design is much better, but could also do with a little polish. Playing as Jason and hearing mother gently telling you to ‘make them suffer’ as you hunt your victims is a really nice touch, as is the classic horror-movie music that plays when Jason is in the vicinity of a counselor. The camp is full of the sounds of leaves rustling, branches snapping, and general nocturnal animal noises. For the most part, it’s great. There’s just a few places at the start and end of a match with an annoying ticking noise. I can’t put my finger on what it is, but I’m certain it’s not supposed to be there. The whole thing feels like it’s still in beta, and ultimately ruins what could have been an amazing game.

I was so hyped for this game. I’ve been a fan of the series since forever and Jason Voorhees is one of the classics of the genre. Stomping around gutting the poor teens is a violent rampage of hilarity. Scurrying around to call the cops or fix the car with Jason on your ass is an intense game of cat and mouse. It’s a lot of fun when it works right. In it’s current form though, I’d be hard pressed to recommend you pay thirty pounds for it. I’m not unhappy with the game by any means, but I’m not blown away. It’s a cool concept and it has a ton of potential. Most of the connectivity issues that were present at launch seem to have been ironed out, and there are also plans to add a single player campaign in the coming months, which could mean that Illfonic and Gun Media will address some of the other issues that are bothering me and the rest of the community. I just feel like this should have been done earlier instead of rushing out what ultimately feel like an unfinished game.

However I haven’t stopped playing it and that was before the patch went live on 20th June which has improved some of the issues I had with the game. Sure, the animations are still clunky at times and the controls are still dog-shit, but it is SO MUCH FUN TO PLAY. I cannot stress that enough. It has an abundance of glorious moments. Working together as a team to fix one of the cars, or whacking Jason with an axe to free a fellow counsellor only to get murdered yourself as everyone else escapes just doesn’t seem to get old. Screaming ‘LITTLE PIGS’ down the mic as you smash cabin doors to splinters as Jason while everyone scurries out like the rats that they are is pure gaming gold.

And let’s not forget, this isn’t a game made by a AAA studio. It was painstakingly crafted by a new team, and if this is their starting point, we can probably expect bigger, better titles from them in the future. But I digress. The fun factor of this game FAR outweighs any problems I have encountered while playing this, and for that I am publicly announcing my mistake. This game deserves your time.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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