Friday the 13th: The Game…the retrospective

I’ll be honest, Friday the 13th: The Game has been my favorite game of this console generation so far.

Seriously.

While a simple online multiplayer game based on a fan-favorite slasher film franchise might sound ridiculous when compared to games like Resident Evil 7, Tomb Raider or Final Fantasy 15 (trust me it does), I can tell you right now that it doesn’t matter how good a game looks, what the framerate is or whether or not is a Rockstar game, if your game is fun, then nothing else matters. While playing Friday the 13th, you the player are transported to the world of a beloved film franchise that delivers on the scary, fun and hilarious appeal of being a camp counselor at Crystal Lake or being the hockey masked, machete-wielding powerhouse, Jason Voorhees. So let’s take a look at what makes Friday the 13th the best game of this generation.

Disclaimer: This is just my opinion. If you disagree, that’s fine.

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Gameplay

Friday the 13th is an on online, one v seven survival horror experience that thrust you in the role of a hapless camp counselor just trying to survive the night with your six friends. During your twenty minute round, you’re tasked with finding a way to escape the camp grounds by either repairing a broken down car (there are two cars) or repairing a broken fuse box that can allow you to call the police…if you can survive a five minute waiting period. You can also just run out the clock by hiding under a bed or in a closet, but don’t be punk, try to escape.

One lucky player will be chosen at random to wield the machete and play as Jason. As Jason you can teleport around the map and see where counselors are hiding to take them out in ever-increasingly gory kills. A word of warning though, Jason sets the tempo for the entire match, so if you’re playing as Jason, it would be a good idea to try and play smart and get a little better every time you play. If you’re a terrible Jason, you’re not going to have much fun and neither is anyone else.

While playing as Jason is random, you can stack the deck in your favor by toggling the settings to increase your chance as playing as Jason or a counselor. Honestly though, I don’t think selecting to be Jason more often actually affects anything, gameplay wise. I have my settings to play as Jason and it doesn’t seem like I play as him more often than if I had my preference set to counselor.

Also, before we move on, there is a way to kill Jason while playing as fan-favorite character Tommy Jarvis. It’s not an easy feat to accomplish and even though this game is over a year old, I’d rather not spoil how to kill Jason here, go figure it out on your own (or look it up on youtube, I don’t care). But if you’re a fan of the film series, it’s a great nod to one of the better films in the franchise.

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Setting

Friday the 13th: The Game was developed by illFonic and published by Gun Media and they deserve all the props in the world for staying incredibly true to the source material with this game. While it would have been much easier just making a generic camp for Jason to tool around in, IllFonic went the extra mile and crafted three maps that were painstakingly recreated from the films. Maps include Cap Crystal Lake (Part one), Packanack Lodge (Part Two, and Higgins Haven (Part Three). Black Tower Studios also pitched in for development of two additional maps, the Jarvis House (Part Four) and Pinehurst Youth Development Center (Part Five).

While many of the cabins and structures found within the maps can be viewed as generic (there is very little visual distinction between most cabins), it should be know that while the maps are all similar, they are also procedurally generated, thus ensuring that you’ll almost never find the resources necessary for escaping in the same place during a given playthrough. While this isn’t always the case, more often than not, you’re basically depending on luck to survive the night seeing as how you can’t straight up overpower Jason. On top of the various settings from the films, there is also the addition of rain, which can be toggled by the host of a given multiplayer match, which adds a lot of suspense to a given twenty minute match due to low visibility.

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Visibility also will play into the games fear mechanic. Depending on which counselor you play as, you will become more and more afraid as your friends are picked off. While this would be enough to scare off most people, your fear is also manipulated by being outside alone, whether or not the electricity has been cut off, seeing dead bodies, taking damage or seeing Jason himself. This is amplified by the fact that the screen will actually start to cloud over and display a tunnel vision-like effect representing the ever-increasing hysteria of your counselor, making traveling around the map more of a chore than it usually is.

 

Fun

While it is a little difficult to fully express why I like this game so much, I’m going to do my best to break this down, so if it sounds dumb…well, that’s on me. Here we go.

Friday the 13th: The Game plays like the ultimate version of hide and seek. It taps into this weird part of my brain that really finds enjoyment in the fight or flight response when there is no real risk to either life or limb. Running throughout the campgrounds, trying to find resources or weapons while avoiding Jason is just pure fun and it takes me back to being a kid playing tag at night and giggling hysterically while running around.

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There are plenty of games out there that make the promise of making the player feel like Batman or the Predator or just insert any popular character here. And to be honest, I never felt the immersion those games promised. While I understand that I am not a zombified mass murderer (notice I didn’t say “Deadite” because Jason is NOT a Deadite), being an mountainous, overpowered machine of hocky enthusiasm is both equal parts glorious and terrifying…you know, because you don’t want to suck as Jason. When you’re playing with a group of players that wants to have a great time, and enjoy the game for what it is, a good match really plays out like the last twenty minutes of any Friday the 13th film.

Not to kill the modd here, but it should be noted that there are a lot (A LOT) of toxic players out there that loving trolling and disconnecting as soon as you grab them. So, keep calm, be patient, and remember to mute verbally abusive players.

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the official Friday the 13th “I’m a troll” dlc skins

Comparisons

Almost a full year before Friday the 13th was released; a game called Dead by Daylight hit consoles. The game featured gameplay very, very similar to Friday the 13th’s. One could say that Friday the 13th simply aped the gameplay of Dead by Daylight, both games were in development at the same time, in different countries, so I doubt that anyone was actually copying anything.

Dead by Daylight’s gameplay is similar to Friday the 13’s, but the end result is very different, seemingly putting more focus on dread and impending doom, while Friday the 13th aims to let the player have more fun by reveling In the over-the-top gore and special effects. While I one is pure fun for me, Dead by Daylight, while fun, is so intense that I find myself holding my breath while playing sometimes. While this is a great affect put upon me by a great game doing its job, I find that Dead by Daylight is ultimately exhausting to play as either a survivor or a killer. One day I’ll go more in depth into Dead by Daylight, but I will say that I highly recommend it, but I just recommend Friday the 13th a bit more.

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the one that got away

While I think comparing the two games is unfair to the people that worked hard to make both games, they are strikingly similar, so, just know that both games are awesome and are very much deserving of your time.

Single player

While at first Friday the 13th was an online only experience, the developers were kind enough to give players two versions of a single player mode, one being a glorified training mode with Offline Bots, and a quasi-story mode with Single Player Challenges.

While Offline Bots sees you playing as Jason against computer controlled camp counselors in the map of your choice. While most of the A.I. controlled campers just jump through windows and hide under beds, they were also give a bit of artificial difficulty by arming counselors with multiple pocket knives that can be used against Jason and can be incredibly frustrating to players. It was a really cool mode that just became and okay way of playing the game. I would’ve recommended it earlier in the year, but, honestly, you can just skip this feature.

The Single Player Challenges however, are incredibly fun, reference filled homages to the film franchise that quickly lose their appeal after a few playthroughs.  While it is fun recreating some of the more iconic kills in the film franchise here, and while there isn’t anything technically wrong with this mode, it just has no lasting appeal to me, and I haven’t gone back to them since they mode debuted this past May.

 

My one big complaint

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is the fact that you can play as multiple Jason’s in this game. From Part Two Jason (complete with potato sack) to a spear-wielding Part Six Jason to Jason Goes to Hell (again, not a Deadite), you can choose to play as the Jason from your favorite film or set the selection to random and play as a different Jason every time you play. While each Jason is essentially the same, there are certain kills and abilities specific to each Jason, making them each different enough to where you feel different with every match as Jason.

But here’s the deal, the fans of Jason Voorhees all seem to consider Part Seven Jason as the best version of Jason when it comes to the films. Not only is it because it’s the Jason from arguably the best film in the series, but it is also when actor Kane Hodder made his debut as the rage-fueled killer of campers. Plus, he just looks badass. Part Seven Jason is proper Jason, and in the game, despite a few bug fixes to him, he’s just kind of a punk. When he takes a hit from the counselors, he folds faster than Superman on laundry day. Of all of the Jason’s in the game, Part Seven Jason seems the most easily exploitable. He seems the slowest with the weakest attack strength. All of this is a moot point with practice, but still, he should be the most OP of all the playable Jason’s purely because of his standing within the film franchise.

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Final thoughts

I love this game. As technology in gaming has become more and more sophisticated, I feel that gamers and developers have forgotten how important fun is when playing a game. Developers nowadays seem more interested in making more and more comprehensive open-worlds while giving a sense of immersion that is definitely admirable.  But immersion in games is a ridiculous selling point to me. I know I am not Chris Redfield. I will never be Johnny Cage, and thank god I’m not Joel from The Last of Us. While videos games are a great artistic medium that is capable of telling incredible stories that can make me love a world and the characters within, developers have seemingly forgotten about games being fun, as it seems secondary in many titles this console generation. Friday the 13th: The Game is just pure fun. It takes a simple, Hide-and-seek premise and adds a dash of psycho killer to the mix. The end result is just a roller coaster that eerily mirrors the same type of fun that is found in the films that inspired this game. And within that fun, you find yourself caring for these placeholder characters.

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You want to see A.J. and LaChappa survive the night. You want to see Tommy Jarvis take out Jason, and you want to see all of the counselors die, in game, at Jason’s hand. While it is easy to overlook an online-only, multiplayer game that is currently a part of a massive copyright lawsuit, you should consider giving this game a shot. Gun Media and IllFonic (and Black Tower Studios) took strides to give us a great multiplayer game that is both an incredibly faithful adaptation of the films world, and a truly fun game that makes no apologies about what it is. Not bad for a crowd-funded game that could.

 

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