Well, that week has come and gone and despite the Day One patch being delivered on Day Eight, Friday the 13th still instills terror and horror but in the form of connection issues, broken matchmaking and more bugs than you can swing a machete at. Welcome to your nightmare.
A Kickstarter-funded homage to the vintage slasher films, Friday the 13th is meant to be everything the horrible 1989 NES game of the same name wasn’t: a next-gen multiplayer experience full of gruesome kills, nods to the franchise and a chance to don the mask of Jason yourself and stalk counselors controlled by other people.
Instead what is delivered is a thoroughly broken mess of a video game. And I’m not talking rough around the edges; I’m talking broken to the point of being unplayable.
Quick Match barely works, meaning you most likely won’t be able to get into a game unless you fire up a Private Match and beg people to join you.
You can skirt this via the Looking for Group function on Xbox Live, but it takes forever to find a proper group to play with and even then you have no idea who you’re teaming up with (hello screaming 12-year-olds and homophobes blaring rap music).
If you can somehow get into a match though, there’s actually some promise.
A group of camp counselors scrambles at the approach of Jason and they have to stay alive long enough to escape, either by repairing a car or boat or by fixing up the phones and contacting the police.
Scavenging cabins yields items to help in this task: maps to find your way around, first aid gear, small weapons for defense and so forth.
Barricading doors, turning on radios to distract Jason and fixing power supplies to keep places well-lit are but a few of the things frantic counsellors can do to try and stave off You Know Who, who roams the woods looking to satisfy his lust for blood.
Jason, played by another real-life player, has special skills with which to track down his quarry.
Shift lets Jason turn into a black mist and quickly transport himself across distances to harry his prey, Stalk lets him get close to counsellors without the spooky music kicking in and Morph lets Jason teleport across the map instantly.
Sense is his most important tool, as it helps Jason detect noise from fleeing players and isolates the cabins they might be hiding in.
Noise levels are important as a result, as is the built-in Fear level in counsellors.
Seeing dead bodies, staying the dark too long or laying in on Mr. Voorhees himself raises fear in counsellors, making them louder and easier to hunt.
Once Jason gets close to his intended victims, there’s a few things counsellors can do to escape, but most of the time it ends with Jason murdering them instantly or firing up one of the many cool environmental executions.
Dead or escaped players can come back into the fray as hunter Tommy Jarvis, who has buffed stats and a powerful shotgun to help even the odds, but the game is definitely tilted in Jason’s favour so escaping is a real feat.
Increasing the difficulty is the lack of a tutorial or walk-through.
You’re basically tossed into the woods and left to try and figure out via trial and error how to play and survive, or in Jason’s case, how to stumble around the campground in pursuit of counselors.
On-screen icons do little to tell you what things you pick up are good for or how they are used, or even what the net goal of your session is other than to avoid a certain axe-wielding murderer/slay all you find.
Gun Media corrected this a little in the tardy patch but in the worst way possible, via a text-only guidebook that roughly describes gameplay, accessible only outside of the main game mode. OK then.
There’s lots of cool mechanics at work here, but the fact is that it’s next to impossible to experience them in any cohesive fashion, even weeks after release.
Matchmaking is barely functional, every game features disconnections or network issues and scores of bugs and glitches permeate every match.
Frankly, this is not a ready-for-release title, it feels and plays like a beta.
I want to like this game, it’s creative and intriguing in terms of subject matter and mechanics, but it’s so thoroughly busted it’s impossible to recommend to anyone, even at a bargain $40 price point.
I’m hoping future patches will add content and fix the horrendous, game-ruining technical problems at work in Friday the 13th: The Game, but until that time I can’t picture myself enjoying too many evenings at Crystal Lake.
Friday the 13th: The Game:
Upside: Cool Jason vibe, interesting game mechanics. Lots of nods to the films, can be genuinely scary at times.
Downside: Utterly rife with glitches and bugs, matchmaking borderline non-functional. Not enough maps, no real reason to work together to survive. Game is essentially unplayable in its current state.
Bottom Line: Friday the 13th: The Game is horrific and terrifying but in all the wrong ways.
Neil MacFarlane is a freelance Halifax-based video game enthusiast. firstname.lastname@example.org