Pre-order Friday the 13th: The Game
It's difficult to create a horror video game. After all, the biggest threat in a horror movie is death, and once you're dead in a video game, you just respawn. Maybe that is why we're seeing a trend toward multiplayer horror. You'd think it wouldn't be so scary if you had someone else at your side, but surprisingly, that makes it more tense. There's no reloading and no second chances. Friday the 13th isn't the first game to attempt this style of horror, but from the beta we played, it's a game with a laser focus on a very specific thing: re-creating the style and feel of the "Friday the 13th" movie franchise.
If you've never seen a Friday the 13th film, a bunch of stereotypical teens head to an out-of-the-way place, the most iconic of which is Camp Crystal Lake. These promiscuous youths are looking forward to a night of drugs, sex and shenanigans in spooky places. Of course, the result is that they attract the attraction of one of horror's most iconic evils: Jason Voorhees. If you've ever heard of a horror movie, you know Jason. He's big, he's brutish, and he's effectively unkillable. While he's appeared in multiple forms from bag-wearing brute to futuristic space man, he's always had the goal of killing any young adults who are in his way.
Friday the 13th sticks very close to the source material. At the start of a round, you'll see a brief cut scene of Jason slaying an unfortunate victim and sending the rest of the camp counselors into a panic. The gameplay picks up a few minutes later. Every player in the game except for one plays as a counselor. The last is Jason himself. The gameplay consists of basic third-person movement with a couple of twists. Rather than regular attacks, you enter a combat mode that gives you finer control over movements but also means you're a tad slower. Choosing to fight means you're sacrificing mobility. Every character has perks and specialized abilities, though they're still in development during the alpha, so we only saw a few. For example, one character can drop noisemakers to attract Jason's attention. Jason will have several variations that specialize in different things, such as sneaking or straight-up killing.
Your goal as a counselor is to escape, but it isn't as easy as it sounds. You need to have a safe place to escape to. Walking out of Jason's territory would be too easy, wouldn't it? You have a few options. The first, and perhaps the most amusingly genre-breaking, is calling the cops. As soon as you do, a timer starts. The police will arrive and escort you to safety if you can reach them before Jason gets to you. You can also repair one of the broken-down cars scattered throughout the levels. You'll need to find batteries, gas, and car keys before you can get the cars running, and you'll have to evade Jason.
Shockingly, fighting back is also an option, but Jason is tough. An individual player can't beat Jason in a fight, regardless of their skill level. It takes a concentrated effort — and some luck. Players who want to fight Jason can call Tommy Jarvis, who appears with his custom shotgun that does a ton of damage to the masked maniac. He isn't a sure win, but it can't hurt to have him on your side.
An interesting element of the game is that it's both cooperative and competitive. Your goal as a counselor is to survive, even it that comes at a cost to your fellow camp-goers. You can't survive entirely on your own. Collecting the parts to fix a car on your own is a lot harder than splitting up the task among three or four people. However, if you end up fixing the two-seater car, someone isn't getting a trip out. Small factions can grow among the survivors, with multiple people rushing for the easy escape. There are few things as demoralizing as realizing that your friends have escaped and you're the only fool left in Jason's killing range. You don't have to screw over your friends. You can work together to survive, but if you trust the wrong person, you might find yourself standing on the road as the final sacrifice to Jason while your former friends escape.
By comparison, Jason is a lot simpler and a lot more complex. His task is to kill the foolish victims who wandered into his killing grounds. Jason is brutal and relentless, if not very fast. Most counselors can take two or three blows from Jason, but he can shrug off most of their blows with ease. More importantly, he can cheat. Jason can teleport, which isn't technically how it works in the film canon, but it replicates his slow, lumbering movement while explaining how he catches up to fleeing targets. The long-range teleport is useful for simple movement while the short-range shift is better utilized to catch a fleeing target. As the game progresses, you'll unlock a Rage mode that allows Jason to bust down barricades and walls. The longer you go, the more dangerous you get. You can be trapped, tricked, and taken down if you're not careful, but it takes a lot to pull it off, and most of the time, you'll sit back up and return to murdering.
Jason's primary goal is to cause fear. A counselor's fear makes them easier to find and makes it tougher for them to hide from you. Jason doesn't have an instant lock-on, but the more fearful someone is, the easier it is to track their red glow. A counselor inside a house actually highlights the entire house in a red aura. On the one hand, it's easy to know when someone is inside. On the other hand, it's bad since you don't know where they are inside, so they can hide and evade you. However, fear is all-consuming, and beyond a certain point, your prey can't hide — only die. The game rewards you for being scary, so looming in an enemy's field of view or threatening them might not kill them, but it makes it harder for them to run and hide. You're also rewarded for specialized kills, which are worth more points than a regular murder. It isn't even a failure if one or two victims get away, as long as you get enough points beforehand.
The beta for Friday the 13th is still in development, but it shows a lot of promise. The gameplay is fun and intense, and it's filled with love for the franchise. Everything from the subtle background music to the subtle references and lore scattered around the environment speaks of a deep respect and care for the series. It isn't the first Friday the 13th game on the market, but from what we've seen so far, it's probably the most accurate you'll ever see. Friday the 13th will be released for PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2017.
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