It’s Finally Time to Talk About Friday the 13th: The Game!

Jason Lives Game Art

Since I first posted an update with the amazing news that the game had been funded nearly 2 years ago, I’ve been completely radio silent on the subject, including the 3 months now that the game has actually been released!

This is particularly strange considering the following:

  • Horror is my favorite movie and game genre
  • Friday the 13th is hands-down, my favorite horror movie franchise
  • Since the days of Super Mario on NES, I’ve been an obsessive gamer
  • I’ve been specifically waiting, wanting, talking about a new Friday the 13th game, probably since the original NES game
  • Of course, I feverishly bought the damn thing on day 1
  • In my opinion, this game becoming a reality is probably the coolest thing that’s happened in horror since I first started HL

Simply put, it’s a melding of a lot of my favorite things.

So, what the hell took me so long to write about it? Well, as most of you know, the game was essentially unplayable for the first few weeks after release (not something I ever had any complaints about mind you). Then after that, it was a bit difficult to get enough people together and hold a game all the way through without an error or people dropping out. And finally, when the game was good and patched and people were around and enthusiastic to play, I just wanted to play, not write about it. The time to share my thoughts on the game kept getting postponed until the point where that time just sort of passed.

Going back to how much anticipation I had for the game, it’s hard to describe just how surreal it is that it even exists. It’s almost like it’s my own personal dream come true. I’ve literally, for decades, every time a new gaming system would come out, feverishly rambled on to deaf ears about “Wouldn’t it be cool if someone made a modern Jason game?” or “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could see Jason in current-gen graphics?” and other geek-outs of likely very annoying levels of specificity for those around me.

See, until I became part of the online horror community (which was relatively recent in my life), I’d pretty much been alone in my interests and thoughts of such things. Hence thinking something like the chances of a new and shiny Friday the 13th game was so completely esoteric, that it was just something contained in my own little world. When it really happened, it was like those childhood Christmasy feelings I hadn’t felt in so many years.

The Bugs and Server Issues at Release

Let’s get it out of the way. Honestly, I didn’t care. Because I half-expected there might be issues anyway. Not because of anything to do with the development of the game, but because with today’s online multiplayer games, that’s the expectation. That once the game is released into the wild, the real beta testing actually begins, and there are going to be inevitable bugs and server problems and other kinks to be worked out. This is true even of AAA titles like Halo and Call of Duty. Games are incredibly complex; there’s no way to test all the millions of variables before-hand and I empathize with that.

So, sometimes, when it’s a multiplayer-only or mainly multiplayer game, I’ll hold off on buying it, or buy it and then stick a pin in it for a week or so until the first major patch. On the other side though, I’m not surprised that people wouldn’t be knowledgeable or patient enough to control their urge to go straight to DEFCON 1 and just let the vitriol fly at developer IllFonic.

Also, while it was completely unfair for content sites to review the game until it had resolved these issues, they went ahead and did so. To be fair though, most of those sites have deadlines and the reviewers (who are employees on assignment) might not have had any choice, but to review something that was essentially broken, which would of course result in bad reviews.

How is the Game Now that it’s Playing as Intended?

It’s fucking amazing! It’s really really good. I have a friend that’s not even very much of a horror fan, but he enjoys the gameplay so much, he’s the one bugging me to play most times. First of all, they really did a good job with the Jason models. They got it right. I mean, objectively, whether you like the game or not, they nailed the graphics, no question. We’re talking screen-accurate detail from the movies. Have a look at the mask detail on the Jason Takes Manhattan model for example:

From the game:

Mask Detail

From the movie:

Mask Detail

They also got the music and sound effects (some original, but mostly official score and licensed songs from the movies), outfits, faces (for when you see Jason without his mask on), and walk (motion capture by Kane Hodder [the man who played Jason in more sequels than anyone else] himself) right.

The game also includes plenty of quality and authenticity enrichment from participation of Friday the 13th franchise alumni: Thom Mathews (played Tommy Jarvis in Jason Lives), Tom McLoughlin (wrote and directed Jason Lives), Sean S. Cunningham (director of the original and co-creator), Tom Savini (special effects on several of the movies), and Harry Manfredini (composer on several of the movies).

Outside of all the entitled little shits and other complainers that couldn’t see past their own “instant gratification or fail” attitudes, I hope people who enjoy this game appreciate just how much work went into getting those details right. This was a real Horror, Inc. production.

The game itself is so fun because it’s so simple. It’s basically hide and seek for adults. In fact, I unwittingly, before I ever even knew how the game’s rules and mechanics even worked, created my own, very similar style of play game that’s a party game you play with your friends in real life. The new Friday the 13th game is just really fun. For the whole family. πŸ‘ͺ

IllFonic did an excellent job incorporating themes from the films into game mechanics. From Jason’s abilities like morphing, to dumb teens tripping as they run from Jason, to the specific weapons and kills, including environmental kills. Most of it actually ties into moments and reoccurring plot devices from the movies.

Most importantly, it’s nearly impossible to kill Jason, which is the least likely way to survive the night. In fact, I’ve never seen it done. I’m sure I could look up YouTube videos of people accomplishing it or offering up tips on how to do it, but I don’t want to spoil the experience. I want to experience whatever the game has to offer for myself first-hand, which will include…

A Story Mode at Some Point

Funny thing is I never even bothered to read or look at too much before the game was released, because I try hard to avoid spoilers for things that I’m really excited about that are coming soon. So, I actually had assumed that it was mainly going to be some sort of single-player experience with multiplayer on the side. But, I didn’t really have any expectations, which is how I like it.

Admittedly, I was a little disappointed when I discovered it was multiplayer only, but after experiencing how fun it was, I managed to survive. πŸ”ͺ Soon though, the developers announced that a story mode would be coming as a DLC at some point. If it releases for free when it gets here, awesome. If it’s like $20, that’ll be okay too (since the game was only $40 already). Also because I want to support these guys and want them to continue adding new maps, clothing, kills, etc. Plus…

I’m Hoping IllFonic Replicates this Recipe for Other Franchises

The asymmetric model they’ve created is so awesome and fun, I’d love to see them replicate it with any number of other horror franchises: A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Scream, Saw, Child’s Play, Alien, Predator, and hell, even Jaws. That really only scratches the surface. There are so many creative ways to bring it all together. Imagine Poltergeist or House where the house is the enemy that players must escape from.

Even Children of the Corn could work because all the players could be children, except for one whose chosen as an adult. The adult would obviously be much faster and stronger, mostly trying to escape, but kill if necessary. It could be balanced in the sense that if you try to kill one of the children, the others are alerted to your exact location, and if they gang up on you, you haven’t a chance.

A Nightmare on Elm Street would be the most obvious choice for the next game though of course. Just imagine how imaginative the gameplay could get considering the setting for the maps would essentially be inside nightmares where anything can happen. The Escher stairs from part 5 for example would make for a great map.

Escher Stairs

I could yammer on all day about all the amazing what-ifs, but there’s no denying, this game has certainly opened a new door for horror franchises. There are many amazing horror games, and even a few good ones adapted from horror movies, and we’ve even been seeing a lot of horror icons showing up in glorious HD in the past few years, but nothing like this has ever been done so well. If the trademark and copyright holders of other franchises smell the opportunity, we might see a very interesting and cool new trend for them.

Some Snaps of Me Playing the Game

Jason Lives is my favorite movie from the franchise and also my favorite Jason look, so of course, I always play as that version of Jason.

The best snap I ever captured:

Jason vs Tommy

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