Review is for the Xbox One version of the game.
Friday The 13th: The Game is a video-game addition to the excellent slasher series, Friday The 13th. The game is developed by illFonic and Gun Media and is a third-person survival horror game where players are thrust into the shoes of some counselors trying to survive the night against Jason himself. To survive, you must complete a series of objectives to escape the map, all while the player controlling Jason roams the map and sends you home in body bags.
The game has three maps (as of right now) with each of them based on locations from the films. You’ve got the iconic Crystal Lake, Packanack Lodge and Higgins Haven. Each of these maps has their own buildings and strategies tied to them. That said, most of the games I played were on Higgins Haven and Crystal Lake and not many people were showing an interest in Packanack, but that could have just been the people I was grouped up with during my game time. These maps are still fun 15 hours in and I’m still enjoying them, but I can tell that if new content doesn’t get dropped regularly I feel that the game could stagnate for some players, which is one of the only major complaints I have with the game as of right now.
Each map has various objectives scattered around them to aid the counselors in escaping the map and surviving their night with Jason. These mostly include finding parts to repair one of two cars, or both and even a boat. The repairing mechanic is a neat mechanic because each playable counselor can either be great at repairing or absolutely terrible based on their stats, mainly effecting how long it takes for you to refill the fuel and slot the battery in. It also introduces some tense moments when the music announcing Jason is nearby builds up while you’re trying to refuel and get the hell out of dodge, and teamwork is generally a necessity to do these objectives, but sometimes you’re forced to do it solo because Jason either split everyone up or well…murdered everyone else.
Luckily, you’re not restricted to vehicles as your only means of escaping. Calling the police by repairing a fuse box and using the phone gives a five minute or so timer before the police arrive at one of the level’s exits and will escort players away on foot, no vehicles required. This method seems to be the rarest as I’ve only escaped via the police once or twice. I’m usually in a car or dead in the woods somewhere.
That said, death doesn’t have to be permanent the first time around in the game. If players have used a radio on one of the maps, a deceased or escaped player can return as Tommy Jarvis and aid the survivors in escaping the map. Unfortunately, Tommy doesn’t really have much use unless you’ve gone through the long process of gathering items required to kill Jason (since he’s really the only one who can end him) and just feels like another counselor and doesn’t really add anything to the core game. I hope the developers re-work him a bit and maybe not have him get spooked every time he sees a corpse. He’s seen this shit before, it’s not new ground for him. The ‘spooked’ mechanic is a really neat concept too, but sort of teeters on the realm of annoying when sometimes you get scared by a dead body while running away from Jason, which as of my writing this has apparently been fixed somewhat in the Steam version of the game.
As mentioned above each counselor has their owns strengths and weaknesses, just like how each Jason has their own strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, due to the state of the game’s servers and crashing issues I haven’t leveled up much due to this and haven’t had the chance to play every Jason or every counselor as it does require leveling up in the game’s progression system. That said, I do enjoy the idea to lock out certain Jasons and counselors behind these levels as it gives people a reason and reward for leveling up and the progression system doesn’t feel tacked on, it feels comfortable and suits the game. Now if these were just skins and didn’t have their own advantages and abilities I’d feel a little let-down, but here’s hoping that if and when we get future Jason variants they’re not given ridiculous requirements to acquire.
Another fun note about the progression system is the perks which you can roll and unlock for 500cp which is in the game monetary system. Each perk aids but also can have a negative effect on your counselor. For example, one of the better perks is allowing a counselor to start with a walkie talkie so you can talk to others out of range. Very useful.
The game is fun as a counselor, but stepping into the shoes of Jason himself is when things take on a whole new style of play and this is where the game shines and becomes fun as all hell. Jason has a handful of abilities that allow him to traverse the maps and dispatch the counselors. He may seem overpowered to play as and ultimately impossible to survive against, but that’s what makes it a game set in this universe. If Jason was some pushover the game wouldn’t be tense, scary and it just wouldn’t be fun trying to survive against him. I enjoy the fact that most times all of the counselors get killed as it resembles the films more closely than not, and he’s totally impossible to stop. Firecrackers and some well placed melee attacks can stun him, and you can even set up traps to halt him for a few moments to make your escape. Your chances of survival are raised slightly if you play smart and work together, and it just feels natural to the films the game is based on where you really don’t stand a chance. Plus, seeing all of those beautifully gory kill animations is worth the price of death too. My favourite so far is being drowned in a toilet, or having my face shoved into the burning coals of a fireplace.
The most stand out way to play Jason for me was using his ‘Stalk’ ability which disables his musical cues when he’s close to counselors and hiding nearby and telling the counselor players with the in-game proximity voice chat (seriously, only play in game chat. It makes the experience ten times better) that I have the keys to the car, or some other sort of important tool. They would then meet me where I said I was and well…machete to the face. Just being tricky like that and hearing player’s reactions has been a highlight of the game so far.
While the game has been incredibly fun, it still has its fair share of issues. Most notably are the server issues that have been plaguing the game since release. Players were greeted with insane amounts of disconnects and random game crashes which put a halt on progress, hence of only being Level 9 in the progression system after 15 hours. These are still happening as of right now on the Xbox version, but patches have been deployed on the other systems.
I’ve had my fair share of these issues, but surprisingly it hasn’t taken away my enjoyment. Quick Play has also been wonky on the console side of things, but thankfully the Looking For Group feature has been a saving grace on the Xbox One and I’ve met some great people who have become my regulars to play this with, so atleast there’s a bright side to the negative.
There is also an extreme amount of bugs and glitches with some breaking the game and others just producing moments of hilarity. The game breaking includes unkillable counselors, to the more hilarious glitches of bodies of the deceased floating up into the skies. The facial animations are awful too, especially the character Chad who constantly looks like his face has been mashed by a truck.
The lack of maps can be seen as a negative as well, and here’s hoping that in the future once these servers have been fixed which should be the priority we’ll get some new locations to roam and killed by Jason in. Anyone for the boat in Jason Takes Manhattan, to the Grendell in Jason X?
Be sure to have friends to play with, this game highly benefits from that. If you’re constantly playing solo without a mic your experience won’t nearly be as good.
I found my time with the game to be an absolute blast minus the game breaking and server destroying bugs and issues. The $30 price-point at this time is a bit steep for the broken Xbox version and if you don’t have anyone to play with then it might be best to avoid it or look into the Looking For Group feature if you’re still curious because honestly, that Xbox One feature saved it for me while the Quick Play and server issues get sorted.
Fans of the films should enjoy the game and if you’re still interested at the end of this, I’d point you over to the Steam version as it seems to be the most stable version of the game.
In the end, Friday The 13th: The Game is a blast with a group and while the server issues are the only major issue with the game at this point, it should satisfy every new and old Friday fan out there and hopefully pave way for more games like it. I definitely feel like I’ve got my money’s worth so far.