The survival horror game was one of the most anticipated games of the year, starring the masked killer Jason from a beloved franchise; Friday the 13th, even though it wasn’t originally planned to be so. But once publisher Gun Media acquired the license after a series of meetings, the game went on to become the 124th most crowd funded project. So how does it hold up? If I could sum up the title in one word, it would be “beta”. That doesn’t mean the game isn’t enjoyable, because it totally is! But it’s plagued with issues.
Graphically the game is fine, for an indie game you might even say it looks great. The models for all of the different Jason’s look very good and are well detailed, but the other models in the game; not so much, which is a little disappointing when you’ll spend most of your time within the game using those characters. One thing I will give credit for is the facial animations; they aren’t extremely detailed but you can see it when a counselor witnesses something frightening, like a dead body or Jason himself, and while it isn’t game changing, it’s fun to see.
The maps look pretty decent as well. They remain true to the films and they’re quite large which makes them much more tolerable, when you consider how few of them there are. But overall, I can’t help but feel that the game lacks polish and everything looks very dated. I couldn’t go without mentioning the graphical bugs I’ve encountered, which isn’t many; but the biggest ones being kill animations messing up. Whether it’s a woman’s hair spinning around in a circle with her body disappearing or a body jumping high in the air after Jason rips the head off, it’s annoying and sucks to see what may be the best part of the game, getting ruined. (Though the latter of the examples I listed can be quite funny)
The game-play in Friday the 13th can be quite enjoyable with a group of people using their headsets. Without that, it’s more often a mess. As a counselor, you’ll be spending your time avoiding and hiding from Jason while preparing for your escape; whether by boat, car or calling the police, none of which are easy and require multiple parts to repair whatever route you decide to take. For me, this was a let-down. I feel the game would be a little more fun if you could kill Jason in a more reasonable way than what’s available. (You can do so, but it’ll be very hard to pull off) you’ll find plenty of items and weapons, even guns but the most you can do with them is distract or knockdown Jason, to give you a little more time to get away. But honestly; an experienced Jason will usually always catch you again after that and doesn’t really make the weapons feel useful with exception to the flare or shotguns.
Friday the 13th is a little unbalanced and I won’t say that it shouldn’t be. But counselors are relying on luck and hoping that they’ll find the items they need to escape while Jason always has a ‘sense’ ability that allows him to see anyone within the abilities (long) reach, who is making noise, along with another ability allowing him to teleport anywhere on the map, regardless of distance and a second ability allows him to travel at very fast speed for a few seconds. Pair those up with his sprint and it usually comes down to Jason winning and killing almost, if not everyone. One saving grace is that boarding up doors greatly slows down Jason, forcing him to take a handful of swings at the door before breaking it down, leaving plenty of time for one to get away and hide.
Players who aren’t using Jason also come equipped with their own stealth ability and will need to use that as much as possible if they want to live; otherwise they’ll probably fall victim to Jason’s Sense talent. A big problem I have with the game-play actually stems from that, as the maps are far too large to stealth around, and can sometimes go minutes without finding a cabin in their direction, if they don’t have a map. Even with a map however, they may find themselves far from somewhere they haven’t explored and will pretty much put a target on their back if they step out of stealth within Jason’s general area. I find myself questioning at times, do I want to bore myself and those spectating or die?
The game does do a lot right, however. Each character, including the different versions of Jason all offer strengths and weaknesses. Maybe the Jason you liked the most can’t run, he will however have something like a shortened cool down on his Morph ability. Friday the 13th tries hard to keep things balanced in that regard. Different counselors will be better at stealth, or have more strength. A good mix of these will keep it interesting and will help someone do better if they play a certain way. I prefer a stealth based style, myself and stick with one of the girls who excel at that. Certain characters thrive with repairs, which is very handy with getting the boat ready and things like that.
I’ve heard the complaint “The game isn’t fun unless you’re Jason” more than one time and that’s something I disagree with. Playing as a counselor can still be very fun and it’s usually more intense when you’re being hunted, rather than the hunter himself. The game nails that feeling quite well, and as long as you and your teammates know what you’re doing, it can still offer a great time. I don’t think I’ve had a moment playing as Jason that got my heart going as much as when I thought I was safe, driving away in a car only to have Jason suddenly appear in front of us, and stop our car dead in its tracks.
Friday the 13th does a really good job with what it tries to be; as many problems as I have with it, that much is undeniable. Even the soundtrack or the screams from a few cabins down when Jason finally catches someone, really adds to the atmosphere and offers a great deal of entertainment. It’s held back by its price tag, and feels like a beta more than a full release with only 3 maps, tons of glitches, lack of polish and for many; unplayable servers. But it has kept me playing, every day since its release though I question how long it will manage to do so, as it offers very little content and truly needs the single player mode that we know is coming because playing as Jason is why most players are here, and a 1 in 8 chance just isn’t good enough for most. Calling Friday the 13th a “good game” would be an insult to truly good games while in its current state, but it’s enjoyable and shows a ton of potential.