Slasher fans have eagerly waited for the game based on one of the most iconic film franchises: Friday the 13th. Produced by the original director of the first film, and with a soundtrack from the original composer, as well as crowdfunding money from fans around the globe, this is indeed a project fuelled by love. Is it also a game that deserves the massive cult-like attention it has received?
In its own way, this is an incredibly simple game that has converted what we love about Friday the 13th into a morbidly fun multiplayer game, since it revolves around Jason Vorhees trying to slaughter as many frightened camp counsellors as possible at Crystal Lake. One player goes on a killing spree as the ultimate sadist, while the other 1-7 players occupy more masochistic roles as helpless teenagers. There's a planned single-player mode scheduled for this summer too, but at the moment we only have this asymmetrical multiplayer mode, but it is quite captivating.
But wait a second, wasn't Jason always completely overpowered? Yes, and here is no exception, as he's nearly impossible to kill. The game is, therefore, more about surviving the night, either by fleeing or living long enough for the (roughly) 20 minutes to run out. There's no victory screen here, and instead you're rewarded for surviving, and get experience points based on a variety of factors. As Jason, you generally get more XP, and naturally the game counts the number of kills and how creatively you murder your victims. This approach makes the game feel more like a playground than actual competitive gaming.
Jason, as mentioned, is ridiculously powerful, and it's a bad idea to attempt to kill him, since it requires a complicated tactic. This includes a female counsellor wearing his mother's old sweater, which makes Jason emotional. You also need Tommy Jarvis, a more powerful counsellor, and if you call him, he will arrive and one of the dead or escaped players will control him. Even then, it's still very difficult to kill Jason.
What would then be the smartest tactic, if you intend to survive a night with Jason Vorhees hot on your heels? Perhaps the most obvious plan is to look for gas, keys, and a battery for one of the two cars which are on every map. One car has room for two and the other for four passengers, thus this approach also requires some coordination if you don't want to be abandoned by your friends.
Even when you get the car started and everyone is in place, Jason can still stop you. If he is in front of the car, for example, he can hit the front and stop it momentarily until you get it running again, meaning he'll probably pull you out of the car. This is why starting the car is so exhilarating, because you're close to escaping, but he can still get to you and win the game. For these reasons, leaving by boat can be a better idea, as Jason will have a harder time reaching you, and navigating to the end of the map is also easier.
There is much more to the game's mechanics than cat and mouse. As a counsellor, you have to consider your level of stamina, fear, noise, and so on, and for this reason there are ten of them, all of which have different stats. Some have improved fighting skills, for example, while others are fast at repairing, or perhaps more stealthy. You can unlock different variations of counsellors or Jasons as you reach higher levels, just as you receive points that can be spent on perks, and these grant you advantages, but sometimes at a cost. Becoming better at avoiding traps, for instance, might mean that you're slower as a result.
As a counselor, you'll never be very powerful, and this supports the creepy atmosphere. When little Jenny Myers locks the door, and Jason's characteristic "chi-chi-chi-ha-ha-ha" sound discretely hits the eardrum, it's not only the character's fear level that increases, as the game is very good at making you feel vulnerable and afraid; you can run and hide, but it's often never enough to escape death.
Perhaps the most annoying part of Friday the 13th: The Game is dying early. If you're not one of the last ones alive in the match, you can either leave the server and miss around 800 XP, or switch between viewing the different players left alive, while also partaking in the chat. If one of the others call Tommy Jarvis, you can be lucky and return in his shoes, but it's far from certain. Although it's quite a fun game to watch, we often chose to sacrifice the XP just to move along to the next game.