Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle Review

You can’t keep a good slasher villain down. When it comes to Jason Voorhees, arguably the most recognizable of all horror movie killers, the odds of coming back for one more gory spree are very high indeed. Despite it being nearly ten years since the last theatrically released entry in the Friday the 13th series–despite the old NES game being up there with ET in terms of terrible–Jason lives. And he’s found new life in video games.

Blue Wizard Digital’s offering to the world of slasher movie video games wisely sidesteps the Left 4 Dead style gameplay of GunMedia’s Friday the 13th game for an environmental puzzler. This time, instead of having to occupy the role of hapless campers, players fill the immense boots of everyone’s favourite revenant murderer. Guiding Jason around thirteen small maps and a large list of movie-like scenario’s, the object of the game is to pretty much hack and slash through a bunch of adorable little cartoon victims. Clearing each board results in a confrontation with a Final Person–not always a Girl, which is a very progressive touch as far as I’m concerned.

At first glance, this would seem easy as walking around a deserted lakeside in the middle of the night in a swimsuit. But Jason has weaknesses, something that was greatly missing from the PC and console multiplayer game. Environmental hazards from Jason’s least favourite element–water–pop up early on. There are holes in the ground and open firepits; police officers and heavily armed SWAT teams populate many of the maps, and don’t even start on the issue of cats. Apparently Jason has a soft spot for the furry little critters because accidentally adding them to the body count results in a game over and some very stern words from Pamela Voorhees…or rather, the severed head of Pamela Voorhees.

Yes, that’s right. Help comes in the form of Mommie Deadest. Pamela is there to offer hints, solutions and disturbingly cute little conversational quips to her very special boy. Players will find themselves needing Pamela’s advice more often than not because some of the maps are quite tricky. And, because Jason is always ridiculously overpowered, there aren’t even any penalties for asking advice of Mother. I personally would have preferred some backlash for relying too much on Pamela, just because it would prevent lazy gameplay, but I still had so much fun with the overall game that it didn’t bother me too much.

Or perhaps I’m just so bored of Jason Voorhees always emerging victorious that I want to see him punished at last, but I digress.

If it weren’t for the immense amount of fun offered by the game, giving up would seem to be the best option. But even I, sensitive snowflake as I am, couldn’t help but want to try, try again, if not to see just how the little chibi figures would bite the dust. Oh, and I suppose the level of challenge and reward offered by the more difficult maps was fun too.

And are there ever a number of maps to choose from! Sure, the typical stomping grounds of Camp Crystal Lake show up early. There’s even an entire map devoted to the ill-fated cruise ship from Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (which is filled with nods to the lukewarm reception and production issues of that particular movie.) However, the dev team also added a bunch of fun, new areas, including a ski lodge, an amusement park, a post-apocalyptic wasteland and a prison. Progressing to each different area also unlocks a new type of Jason, which is a nice reward for gameplay that, while engaging, can sometimes turn tedious.

What stands out among addictive gameplay is the game’s sense of humour. Grotesque as it has always been to say, the slasher movie is a form of mindless entertainment akin to the superhero movies of today. Out of every series to come crawling from the 1980’s, Friday the 13th has always balanced the chills with the ridiculous best of all. Blue Wizard Digital managed to capture this to a very fine point in this game. From the grisly yet strangely endearing conversations between Jason and his mother’s head to the more ridiculous kills, the game never borders on either too serious or too frivolous. I certainly felt a little sorry for the animated victims when I reached Hour Two of a marathon gameplay session.

Those familiar with the series will recognize some of the more infamous kills. Players unlock new weapons after Jason reaches a certain level of bloodlust following each successfully completed map; and if the idea of stalking inane camp counsellors with a toilet brush doesn’t polish your hockey mask, then there’s always the option to trade three weapons for something different. You could also pay to unlock weapons and new outfits for Jason, but that strikes me as kind of a rip-off.

A challenging but fairly laidback game, Friday the 13th Killer Puzzle isn’t necessarily going to be for everyone. While the option to turn down the gore level does exist, the charm of the game might be lost on people who don’t look back at the campy slasher movies of yore with a little bit of nostalgia. Although the difficulty curve between maps can vary widely, there’s still enough fun injected to keep determined players coming back for more…kind of like how that undead, hockey mask wearing, teenager hating, murderous Momma’s Boy doesn’t know when to stop.

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

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