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Friday the 13th: The Game (PlayStation 4) artwork

Friday the 13th: The Game (PlayStation 4) review

"You're doomed! You're all doomed!"

You and your friends just witnessed someone take an axe to their back by a hulking, homicidal maniac in a mask, scattered away like crazy, and now you're all separated on a camp site. Find the closest car and drive away? There's no fuel, battery, or keys. The boat? Missing a propeller. Call the cops? The fuse for the phone box is nowhere to be seen. Well, I guess it's obvious what needs to be done: hide in a closet for 20 minutes and hope the killer doesn't find you. That, or venture throughout the camp site, desperately searching for items to aid in survival, whether it be baseball bats and pans, or the final piece needed to get a vehicle started. It won't be easy, as the elusive murderer has several abilities that can and will help slaughter you and your fellow camp counselors, and there's only so many locked doors, windows, or pocket knives that can stifle his progress.

Notice how not once I mentioned Friday the 13th? Even if this third-person, online multiplayer product didn't have the movie license and was its own IP, the game still sounds like an interesting title to play. Seven human players have to avoid being killed by a randomly-selected, super-powered entity player? Sounds cool. However, I'd be a lying fool if I said it would feel the same without the rights and the iconic killer, Jason Voorhees, especially since the devs succeeded at replicating the movie franchise's style and vibe, amalgamating and translating its many aspects and moments into actual game mechanics.

Fans of the franchise will notice stuff immediately upon starting a match. The three maps that were available at launch, for example, are actual locations from the first three films; you'll see such things as cabins with the glaring EXIT signs above doors, the Packanack Lodge, a two-floor building from the second film that seems much thicker in the game, and even the archery range. The atmospheric, orchestrated soundtrack, with its high notes, often lend to very intense situations when a counselor is in close proximity to Jason, not to mention the memorable ki-ki-ki ma-ma-ma noises. Tommy Jarvis Ver. 3.0 even appears as an "extra life," given someone finds the radio in one of the cabins. And since the game takes place mostly in the 1980s, you'll see some "interesting" 80s attire, including a rocker chick with thick make-up and a guy with a black leather jacket plastered with pins.

Since there's so many agile counselors dashing around for the lumbering brute to keep up with, killing them with over-the-top death animations won't be instantaneous, and this is with his feat of detecting everyone's noise with a sonar-esque power. But, along with some bear traps and throwing knives, Jason is graciously given a warp ability at the very start as a nice guessing tool. Also, as the 20 minute match progresses, the game slowly lends Jason three additional abilities, such as "dashing," seeing counselor auras through objects, and a stalk feature that turns off the music whenever Mr. Voorhees is near someone. Of course, each use has a cool-down period, since they would be too damn strong without the delay. And depending on what Jason is used, from Part II's sack head to Part IX's rotting, undead beast, each ability wavers in their strengths and weaknesses.

All this while mother utters sweet, sweet "vengeance" in his head.

The devs should be praised for nailing the ambience of the movies, doing the franchise justice with the first Friday the 13th game to be released in decades... if you don't count the 2007 mobile phone game. And when a full match gets underway without any complications, it can be pretty entertaining being in your own, playable Friday the 13th experience. I remember laughing and chuckling quite a bit during my first dozen or so matches, outrunning Jason and eventually being killed by him in absurd manners, from getting a fist thrust through my chest, to having my skull crushed repeatedly by door slams. Unfortunately, the more I played, the more I noticed that, despite some strong points, Friday the 13th: The Game has a surprising number of shortcomings that constantly get in the way of sincere fun.

The biggest, most glaring issue that's been around since launch, an issue that's a bizarre oversight on the developers' behalf, is the issue of matches abruptly ending. This problem stems from the fact that... you can't really chose who the host is, since it's given to the first person to enter a lobby. Simply put, the game kicks everyone back to the main menu if the host rage quits... You can have situations where counselors spent an entire match finding items for a car, sacrificing themselves so that others can escape, and when they're about to make it, the match suddenly ends; the host got caught and quickly left mid-death animation. Or, the host decided to end a session because they were irritated that the last two counselors were not being found for long periods of time. Skilled Jason players usually get it the worst, because they're getting punished the most for being good at the game.

Basically, everyone's a hostage to the host's temperament.

"Do private matches, then." Look: if your online multiplayer game isn't optimized for the masses and is only really considered to be enjoyable in private sessions, then that's a huge fail. Thankfully, though, the devs have decided to implement dedicated servers for the game, which is, of the time of this writing, coming soon. Now, if you've been following this game's development history, that could mean anything. The Game had an estimated launch date of October 2016 on their Kickstarter page. Then it was moved to early 2017. Then it finally came out on May 26, 2017. The single-player component was estimated to come out during Summer 2017. Summer's over. Have some swimsuit DLC and emotes in the meantime! So, yeah, dedicated servers are "coming soon."

But let's pretend for a moment that dedicated servers are up and running. Would The Game be a highly-recommended purchase? Not really. At least not in its current state. It has a foundation that functions, but its biggest problem is the lack of any true variety incorporated for it to have any genuine, long lasting replay value, which is a big no-no for multiplayer titles. Yes, there's different counselors, costumes, Jasons, and kill animations to choose from. Yes, each character comes with varying stats that make some better at running or hiding, along with abilities that can be bought for further enhancement of said stats. These cause changes to the matches, but they only slightly increase your chances of surviving or killing, they don't drastically alter the core game in any significant manner.

So, if you want to play the same type of match, with the same three forest/cabin maps and their smaller counterparts, all which look exactly the same since they all nearly use the same assets, then go ahead. Yeah, they finally released a fourth map that's based on Part IV... five months later... where you get to see young Tommy's bedroom filled with masks, but it's yet another forest setting with the same cabin assets. And sure, they finally released another Jason and another camp counselor with slightly differing stats from the others. That's the problem. None of this stuff necessarily adds any depth to the game, because they're still being performed on the same, vanilla hide-and-seek template. They're just additional things to stare at.

Why not add different modes? Such as having to find a traitor among the counselors who's "working with" Jason, like that bastard from Part VII? You're basically turning the trolling that so many players normally do into an actual mode. How about creating maps that can potentially modify the way everyone plays a match, like a boat and docking bay combo, or a police station and cafe fusion? Or include killers and support characters that actually change the mechanics in some way? Mrs. Voorhees with amazing stealth powers that fall apart when only one person is left alive. Hell, have her dead, floating head attack players like in the NES game. Tina Shephard and her telekinetic powers as an alternative to Tommy Jarvis. Actually have one of the deceased players be a police officer, with multiple bullets, who shows up on site like in Part VI.

The game hasn't had a very good showing for the first five months following its launch, with constant problems and promises that keep getting pushed back every few weeks. I get it, they're a small development team, but still, it's gonna be an uphill battle trying to convince players to buy their future games knowing what happened with this one. In terms of quality, who knows where Friday the 13th: The Game will be a few months or a year from now? The devs will likely, possibly have the single-player mode up by then, but it would have to be the universe's gift to the human race for it to improve the overall product in any way. At the very least, the mode should try to be above decent to avoid having an overwhelming negative reaction, considering how long some people have been waiting. And with the dedicated servers resolving one issue, maybe they can put a tighter lid on exploiters and glitchers that ruin matches by standing in spots unreachable to Jason?

Yeah, there's always some issue going on with Friday the 13th: The Game...

Note: this review is based on version 1.14 of the game and everything going up to it.


pickhut's avatar
Featured community review by pickhut (October 12, 2017)

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