Friday the 13th: The Game seeks to revitalize the classic horror franchise from the 80s by putting players right into the middle of the Camp Crystal Lake with the legendary serious killer, Jason Vorhees. Featuring an asymmetrical multiplayer set up, the likes of which we’ve seen in previous games such as Evolve, Friday the 13th: The Game allows for up to seven players to take on the roles of camp counselors, while one player takes the position of becoming Jason, himself in each match.
Before addressing how the game plays, though, we must acknowledge the elephant in the room. Friday the 13th: The Game is entirely online only in its current state. Ideally, players would be able to search for a quick play session with random players, or arrange a private match with their friends. It doesn’t work, unfortunately. At the time of writing this (and I even delayed writing this until a patch was released and I had investigated it further) the Quick Play feature is completely broken. At one point early in my experience with the game, I had 6 hours of play time and had only successfully played two matches. Both of those were private matches I had been invited into, as well. I’ve still yet to be able to successfully find and connect to a Quick Play match, despite several instances of server maintenance by the developers. I’ve gone as far as to sit on the title menu for 20 minute sessions doing a search for a Quick Play match, only to sit in an empty lobby solo for an additional 20 minutes. It just doesn’t work, and I’ve adjusted the Value for Money and Replay Value aspects of this review to reflect that. Should that change with a future update, I’ll happily revisit this review and adjust it accordingly. But if this past week has been any indicator of Friday the 13th’s future, well, I’m not optimistic.
With that out of the way, how does Friday the 13th: The Game actually play? Once you successfully start a match, you’ve got it made. The developers, IllFonic, have done an exceptional job of bringing in all the aspects of the Friday the 13th franchise that fans know and love. Even the the game’s title cards are reminiscent of the 80s era horror classics, complete with the static lines typical of VHS tapes. This attention to detail carries on throughout every aspect of the game, as even the music changes in a match to indicate when Jason is nearby. There are three available maps, each based on the setting of one of the Friday the 13th movies, including Camp Crystal Lake. For the lucky player that spawns as Jason, there are a variety of character models, also based on the various Jason characters from the movies. Additionally, there are a variety of camp counselors. Each character model has its own strengths and weaknesses, varying from “luck” and “stealth” for counselors to decreased top run speed and improved skill cool downs for Jason. Some of these alternative character models are locked behind level caps, though. Completing a match awards players Customization Points that can be used to purchase special perks that can help or hinder your counselor, or unlock special kill animations for Jason.
During a match, players take control of the counselors who must find ways to survive until the end. Survival can come in many forms, as the counselors are able to arm themselves with a variety of weapons ranging from monkey wrenches to machetes. Some weapons do a better job at stunning Jason should he happen to catch a counselor, where others cause actual damage to him. In addition to arming themselves, counselors can locate other items in the environment to aide them in their escape such as maps and car keys. Each map has two cars and a boat that can be used by the counselors for escape, but only if they successfully find a battery, fuel, and keys. There is also a phone that can be used to call for police, providing the counselors can find a fuse and repair it. Should the counselors decide to team up and truly work together, they can even take Jason down cooperatively to win the match.
The lucky player that spawns into the game as Jason Vorhees has only one goal. Murder. Everyone. Taking over Jason gives the player a variety of special abilities to help him track down and eliminate those pesky teenage counselors, but not all abilities are available immediately. The longer the match draws on, the more of his skills Jason has access to. Initially Jason is able to teleport around the map, but using this skill does trigger a cool down, so plan your location wisely. As time goes on, skills like Sense – which light up cabins that may contain a frightened counselor in a bright red – and Shift – which allows Jason to disappear and rapidly travel short distances – become available. Once Jason successfully captures a counselor, players can quickly choose a violent death of their liking, be it the dreaded neck snap, or an axe to the crotch, to just straight up decapitation. There are even environmental deaths such as throwing a counselor into a fireplace, but planning things out to make use of these kill methods can be a bit tricky. That does, however, make them all the more morbidly satisfying if you can accomplish it.
Playing a full match of Friday the 13th: The Game is an extremely gory, satisfying experience that is legitimately fun. Its a back and forth cat and mouse game that requires cooperative play and strategy. Its just, sadly, completely inaccessible. Unless you’re already prepared with a group of friends who own the game and are ready to play when you are, you’re going to spend a lot of time staring down the title menu.