Review: Friday the 13th: The Game

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Friday the 13th: The Game is arguably one of the most highly anticipated titles for the first half of 2017. Featuring Jason Voorhees from the legendary franchise of the same name, along with the Us versus One dynamic that has become very popular in terms of competitive-and-cooperative hybrid gameplay, this Survival Horror/Multiplayer/Horror hybrid is a fast-paced, highly competitive 7v1 dose of mayhem. And while the game was plagued with some truly debilitating glitches at launch – at least, the PC version had a database sync error that locked players out of play entirely until it was fixed – so far, the majority of troubles Friday the 13th: The Game (F13) comes down to gameplay.

This title launches players into the world of the familiar Friday the 13th movie sagas, with players either playing Jason as the killer, or one of the counselors. One of the best features is the Perks you unlock at random, by spending in-game points you generate by playing games; this currency allows you to try to roll increasingly rare Perks for an even better chance of survival. On top of that, each counselor has different attribute levels; you can choose someone with high Speed, or Stamina, or someone excellent at Repair or Stealth modes. And trust me, if you have low Repair and you’re trying to fix a car battery or a fuse box the skill checks are much, much harder than if you are a high skill counselor. Jason also gains different abilities and minor cosmetic changes. Just like with the counselors, you level up, and the more Perks you roll for, the easier it is for you to customize your character for your particular play-style.

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The trouble is that Friday the 13th: The Game invites an awful lot of griefing and trolling by random players if you choose to enter a public lobby. The counselors have the ability to injure or even kill each other, and beyond that, a low-Stealth character can “sandbag” (sabotage) a high-Stealth character just by chasing after them and things like that. You can create a private match with your friends as long as you have 4+ players; unfortunately, if you don’t have that many people on your Steam list with this title you’re stuck playing with random people elsewhere in the world. The built-in, in-game chat is often rampant with insults and shenanigans, and since players can join a lobby as Jason and a Counselor choice, it’s easy for them to work together to the distinct disadvantage of other players.

However, the balance issues and anti-griefing measures are something that can be developed over time and implemented as the Developers receive community feedback. What F13 does have going for it is the variety of objectives and “ways to win” in place. There are cars to repair, phones to repair and use to call the police, and even the super-secret and highly complicated method of “killing” Jason once and for all. It means that there’s a wide variety of items in each of the maps, and although it gets a bit repetitious over time, the dynamic of random Jason selection in each party keeps things fresh. Additional maps down the road will help with this as well, but I love the fact that there are a multiple means of “Surviving” as a counselor, just like there is a multitude of methods for dispatching your victims as Jason. Also, supposedly “by design,” Jason is extremely over-powered. Given that it’s a 7v1 style of gameplay, it’s no wonder that Jason has obvious advantages; still, it does feel a bit excessive.

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Without a doubt, IllFonic has done a great job of addressing issues and community concerns. And while I disagree with their decision – or that of publisher Gun Media, perhaps – to give big streamers advance access to the title, for the most part, they seem more committed to delivering a quality experience than many similar video games have managed. With Steam achievements, controller support, and even Steam Leaderboards, Friday the 13th: The Game for PC is a nostalgic, fast-paced, chaotic experience full of horrific murders and gory deaths, and there’s a lot of fun to be had. Fans of the Horror genre and online Co-Op/Multiplayer titles especially should consider giving this one a try, even with the steep price tag.

For a title that got its start on Kickstarter, backed by an Indie team, with tremendous popularity and hype before it even went live, F13 stands to be one of the most successful Us vs. One team games currently available if the Devs continue to make the changes required to balance the title fairly. That being said, those imbalance issues, the bugs at launch, and even the dysfunction within the community does make this feel like an Early Access title, so it may be one better for a Wish List and watching rather than paying full price for anytime soon.

 

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