Friday The 13th: The Game takes the classic horror film series and gives gamers the opportunity to play around in its world. Gameplay is experienced through the iconic slasher Jason Voorhees or those screaming camp counsellors that he loves to chase around so much.
The format of the game is quite simple: each round is an asymmetrical multiplayer matchup where one player is randomly selected to play as Jason before the match game starts; that person roams around the map against a team of seven other people. Jason’s task is to stop all of the other players from escaping the map – basically, murdering them one by one. Similarly, the counsellors are given a list of objectives that they can complete in order to assist in their escape. This can include collecting parts to repair a car or boat to escape in, fixing a phone line to call police to your rescue, or radio in a shotgun wielding Tommy Jarvis to aid the rest of the team. The counsellors can also pick up various items spread throughout the environment that will help them survive. There are hidden maps that show the layout of the area, walkie talkies to voice chat with other players that have also discovered them and a number of weapons that can be used against Jason to help defend yourselves.
Jason also has a few tricks of his own. He has four abilities that unlock over the course of the match to help him find and kill the counsellors. The first ability is Morph, which allows Jason to teleport to anywhere on the map. The second ability is Sense, which turns everything in your vision grey but highlights nearby counsellors a glowing red when they are outside, or highlights an entire building red if they are hiding inside it. Sense is also tied to a counsellors fear level, but this mechanic is poorly explained and represented within the game – so much so that the online community has been trying to figure out exactly what can raise and lower your fear levels by testing different circumstances and reporting their findings with detailed guides. The third ability is Shift, which essentially makes Jason invisible and allows him to manoeuvre around the environment quickly and then reappear instantly. The fourth ability is Stalk, generally when Jason is near a counsellor they are alerted to his presence by an audible tune that plays as he gets closer and closer – this ability stops that music from playing for a short amount of time.
The introduction of some of these abilities is where the game starts to fall apart. Counsellors are advised to try and be stealthy by limiting the amount of noise they generate, as circle indicators show up on Jason’s screen when counsellors make too much sound. But at the same time Jason can easily just activate his Sense ability, clearly outlining anyone nearby. If Jason manages to lock someone down into a cabin, a counsellor has the option to hide underneath one of the beds or inside of a wardrobe. But again flicking on Jason’s Sense ability can show if someone is still in the cabin, allowing him to go through each hiding spot until the person is found. Similarly, the ability will just as easily let you if someone has managed to escape out a back window. By quickly switching Sense on and off you’ll get a clear understanding of what’s going on in your surroundings.
The Sense ability can also be combined with Shift. You can rapidly close the distance between you and your prey when activating Shift, reappearing directly on top of another player and allowing Jason to grab them by the throat. If the counsellor hasn’t managed to find a pocket knife – which would abruptly counter the grab and set the player free – Jason can swiftly kill the player using a finishing move that can be a triggered almost instantly. These kills using Shift just don’t feel earned, neither when you’re executing them as Jason nor when you’re a victim of them; it just feels cheap. Yes, Jason should be an overpowering force, but the ways some of these abilities have been implemented don’t add any amount of fun to the game.
When you complete tasks you’re awarded experience points that can be used to purchase either additional killing moves for Jason or perks for the camp counsellors. What is ridiculous is the counsellors need to stay and watch the rest of the match if they are eliminated by Jason early. Staying as a spectator will secure the maximum amount of experience at the end of the game. The way the perks are handled and generated is a neat system that works quite well. Because the game offers a number of different iterations of Jason from the movies to play as, as well as a range of counsellors that all have their own unique stats, you can do quite a bit of tinkering around to suit your own style of play.
With the multiplayer being a seven versus one scenario, teamwork doesn’t feel justified in Friday The 13th: The Game. Although there is a list of different objectives you can complete, which I think is a great idea, completing these objectives as a team doesn’t earn you any extra experience points, so there is really no incentive to work together. If you’re the person to find the last part needed to start the four seater car, you will be looking to just chuck that part in and get the hell out of there – why wait for anyone else? In the game Dead By Daylight, another asymmetrical survival horror game, players are rewarded for working together as a team. Their chance of getting out is greatly increased the more they help out each other, complete the objectives and save one another from the killer’s grasps. For Friday The 13th: The Game, that kind of teamwork is nearly non-existent in quick match games.
While there are plenty of design choices that I don’t agree with, there are also technical issues which have been plaguing the game since launch. There have been reported problems online with players not being able to get into matches, or needing to wait quite a long time for games to start. My biggest problems have come in the form of latency. I’m either being put into a multiplayer lobby that appears to be local, with a very low ping, or into a lobby on the other side of the world and getting an unplayable ping of around 400. But even when I’ve managed to secure a spot in a locally hosted lobby, the majority of the other players joining the same room are from other regions of the world, with latencies from 150 to above 400 ping.
Friday The 13th: The Game has some interesting mechanics, like Jason’s abilities and the list of objectives that counsellors need to complete, but these aren’t implemented in a satisfying way. Combining the unsatisfying gameplay and technical issues, it’s hard to recommend this game for purchase right now, even more so considering it’s priced close to the cost of a AAA title. While I think there is the opportunity for fun to be had in this game, it would mostly be generated by the players making their own fun and not the game supplying it. Friday The 13th: The Game has the potential to be a great game but sadly it’s not right now.
Friday The 13th: The Game was reviewed using a retail code on PC, as purchased by the reviewer. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.