Let’s face it- when it comes to horror games from popular film franchises, fans typically get the shaft. There have been a few exceptions (ahem, Alien Isolation), but not many. As horror fanatics, we set our expectations pretty high and notice when even the smallest details are right or wrong. Luckily for those of us who love Friday the 13th, game companies IllFonic and Gun Media were listening.
Earlier this year, I interviewed Friday the 13th: The Game’s Executive Director, Randy Greenback, and we talked about the pressure to get a Friday the 13th game right for fans. We’re talking about a franchise that has spanned three decades and is still going strong. As you can read here, he was well aware of how important this was and discussed how IllFonic and Gun Media were making that their top priority. After playing the beta, I can honestly say that he wasn’t kidding.
The hype is real, folks. We have a legit Friday the 13th game!
With up to eight people in a session, one person will be Jason and the others will be counselors. You enter a lobby to choose and customize the Jason and counselor you’d like to play as. The Jasons have different abilities based on their films, such as Part 3 running while Part 7 walks and Part 7 moving quickly in water. The counselors have different abilities based on their stereotypes as well, so don’t expect a lot of intelligence from the preppy guy or strength from the punk rocker.
For your counselors, you can choose perks that may help you survive. These tools, such as firecrackers, longer lasting flares and less damage from weapons, are bought with points that you earn during gameplay. You’re automatically equipped with a flashlight, but since light can blow your stealth, use wisely. For Jason, you can choose specific grab kills that you want to utilize. These are unlocked the same way as counselor perks.
Playing as Jason and Counselors
When the game starts, there’s an intro of Jason busting up a party by hacking up a counselor, forcing the others to flee into the woods. We flash forward to five minutes later and Jason starts hunting. The counselors are scattered, but can search for things like flare guns, knives, machetes and walkie-talkies. It could be useful to call other counselors to you since there is power in numbers, but, like the flashlight, using a bright red flare gun could give away your location.
There are cars scattered around the map, but they will require gas and/or tools to get it started. Counselors have a smaller map that only shows your immediate area, making it more difficult to know which direction to head in if you’re looking for a specific place. In contrast, Jason’s map shows the entire area, which allows him to teleport around. Counselors also run out of stamina while running and swimming, which doesn’t affect Jason.
Since Jason does have such an advantage over counselors, his full abilities are delayed a bit, giving them more of a head start. Counselors are alerted through the franchise’s signature music that Jason has gained another one of his abilities. In addition to teleportation, he can also move at a very high rate of speed for a few seconds and heighten his senses for a few moments. These do require a small recharging time after using. A lot of people were turned off by the idea of teleportation, but it is extremely smooth and extremely needed when hunting people down across a large map.
If someone finds, and uses, the radio, they are alerted that help is on the way. Help shows up in the form of Tommy Jarvis. The first counselor to die comes back as Jarvis, who is loaded with a shotgun. This is very helpful as a deterrent, but it doesn’t kill Jason. If someone is able to use a phone to call the police, you have a certain amount of time to stay alive and make it out of the camp before they show up and save the day.
Just like with his abilities unlocking, music will let you know when Jason gets too close. In addition, a red marker will appear on the map if he’s within your vicinity. There are tons of hiding places everywhere you look- outhouses, tents, cabinets and under beds. Since Jason can sense fear, however, your cover will be blown when he gets too close. Counselors can hold their breath, which helps, but only for a short amount of time.
If you’re playing as a counselor and Jason grabs you, this doesn’t mean you’re a goner. Weapons and struggling to get loose can get break his grip, allowing you to run. You can go through windows if you’re inside a cabin, but, on the other hand, if Jason is outside of a window and sees you, he can smash through. It also takes more than just one weapon hit to kill you, even better if you have handy dandy med spray. There are traps you can set around the map as well, just watch out because you aren’t immune.
When you’re playing as Jason and get a counselor in your sight, you have the option of grabbing them or hitting with a weapon. Grabbing them allows for you to choose one of the grab kills you selected. That is when the brutal, gory fun comes. Eye gouging, head smashing, choking…you get the idea.
That about sums up the gameplay. While all of that sounds, and actually is, absolutely amazing, it wouldn’t be a true Friday the 13th game without the details. As we saw in the “Virtual Cabin” that was released on Steam, this game pays huge fan service from every angle. When I spoke with the game’s co-creator Ronnie Hobbs, in September, we talked about how crucial Jason’s details are. Part 3 has to move like Richard Brooker while Part 7 has to move like the beast that is Kane Hodder. Each mask has to show the specific designs and damage. Well, they nailed all of this.
Beyond Jason, there are a ton of details in the cabins and around the map pulled straight from the films. Some are small things that only die-hard fans would notice – lamps, wall decor, furniture. You can see all of the wonderful details they created in my walkthrough video of the cabin.
The Friday the 13th game beta is very bittersweet for me. I am grateful to have the opportunity to play and see that this is going to be an extremely tight, brutal and addictive game. But, I’m already dreading it ending because I want more. If you haven’t pre-ordered, I’m not sure what you’re waiting for because this is going to be epic.