The Tragedy of Friday the 13th: The Game

If you’re reading this, I have to assume you’re a horror fan. Whether you’re just into horror, horror movies, or horror games, you probably remember what sparked your fascination with the genre.

For me, it was Friday the 13th: The Game. Before that, I was scared of the very thought of horror. The idea of ​​sitting down to watch a scary movie was not a pleasant prospect, in fact it felt more like punishment. Well, that’s what I thought at first anyway. In the end, my love of video games ended up overpowering my embarrassment at the idea of ​​unsavory media.

Friday the 13th: The Game began life as a Kickstarter that raised almost a million dollars. There were many reasons this project caught the attention of the horror community, including the inclusion of some true horror legends. There was Sean S. Cunningham, who directed Friday the 13th, and the wizard of make-up and prosthetics Tom Savini, and Kane Hodder, who is famous for the role of the legendary killer, Jason Voorhees. The idea was to make a game that did justice to the movies, in which a man in a hockey mask kills people at Camp Crystal Lake. And sometimes in New York. And space. It gets complicated.

Here’s a trailer for the Switch version. Watch on YouTube

As a horror novice, none of this meant much to me at the time. But the finished game worked its magic pretty quickly when I played it. As soon as I entered the lobby on my first move, I was mesmerized by the atmospheric music that created a sense of dread. Right from the start, the game beautifully introduces you to a night of riotous carnage.

In game form, Friday the 13th is an asymmetrical horror like Dead by Daylight. You can play as Jason or one of a series of camp counselors who are trying to save him and the map itself before the unthinkable happens.

I don’t need to tell you how to play as Jason, do I? You hunt them all down and kill them. However, as a counselor, there are different paths to success. You can find a fuse and turn on the camp’s electricity, which means you can call the cops. You still have to evade Jason long enough to run to one of the two exits on the map where the police will be waiting for you. Harder than it sounds.

Jason storms into a dark cabin on Friday the 13th

Jason appears in a cabin door on Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th: The Game. | Image credit: Gun Media/Illfonic

Moreover, you can use vehicles to escape, namely a car and a boat. Jason HATED when using the car in particular. Maybe because you fixed it right under his nose, or because you can take other advisors with you and run away together. Whatever the reason, this big guy will teleport in front of you as you’re running away to force you to crash. This is fair. This man is not afraid of cars, he is afraid of cars to him.

You can also just wait the hour and that will count as a win for the advisors. Beyond that there is one more way to win the game which I will talk about later. It’s complicated, but boy is it satisfactory.

New to the series as I was, I loved this game so much almost immediately. I loved the semi-real world setting, which added more tension to the experience for me than fantasy would have. This wasn’t like Dead by Daylight where you’re taken by an otherworldly entity and thrust into horrific hellscapes in order to repeatedly sacrifice yourself. Instead, I was somewhere familiar and relatable, and that familiarity made players realize that Jason wasn’t just a nightmare lord, but could lead you to where you felt safest.

That sense of familiarity also worked beautifully with the music, which would often be low on the soundtrack as you ran around gathering supplies, but would pick up and squirm, like an old TV looking for a signal when Jason appeared, and he would get louder the closer he got.

Jason swings an ax at a cabin door on Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th: The Game. | Image credit: Gun Media/Illfonic

Then there’s just attention to detail. This includes the fact that some advisors are better at certain things. Some have extra stamina, some are less likely to panic and are better at skill checks and sneaking around the map. I myself favored the meanest and cleverest characters. I’d love the main goth girl AJ Mason, whose stats relied on that playstyle. (She was also played by Critical Role’s Marisha Ray, and it took me a long time to figure that out.)

The various abilities and stats also relate to the tactical thinking and risk-taking that the game has always required. Sometimes you have to choose between damaging your health by crawling through broken windows or facing Jason. Or maybe you set traps. Or maybe…?

The result of all this was a multiplayer game that created real stories. In other words, let me get overly dramatic for a second.

Imagine: I was the last counselor left on the map, things looked dire, but I was CURRENT Final Girl damn it, and I would make it out alive. I had squirreled away a cabin, barricaded the only door to the place, and strategically placed a hatch on my side of the door.

I had the windows open to prevent Jason from breaking them and costing me my health if I had to jump out and escape. I was crouched in stealth mode. I had a baseball bat in my hand.

i was ready

Finally, Jason approached the cabin. I ran between rooms so he wouldn’t hit me with his knives. He decided enough was enough and so he broke down the door and walked into my trap. I think he knew it was there, but he also knew it wasn’t going to slow him down much.

I hit him with the stick and he fell. I didn’t see that coming! Then I made a break for it, maintaining my stability by jumping into the nearest closed cabin through an open window.

Of course, this is Jason Voorhees we’re talking about, I couldn’t pass it up forever. He caught me in the trees and must have thought it was game over.

Little did he know… I had three pocket knives ready.

He got mad, he cried, he went on voice chat and asked me to stop ‘teasing’ him (true story).

I was ready to make that leap until dawn.

But then he broke off, which was FAR less grip.

As you might expect, the game had its flaws and had servers that were like the Wild West, and wildly buggy. But glitches, like many others in this game, can be beautiful. You could end up on rooftops, defect to places Jason just couldn’t reach, and sometimes fly up and out of the map to meet Jason X in space. Sometimes the map spawned with a bunch of trees inside buildings. It was surreal and kind of wonderful.

And it was funny too. The glitches can be annoying for players and Jason’s advisors alike, but, for me, it was hard to be too afraid of Jason when he’s riding on the hood of your car and can’t get off. These are the kinds of memories that only video games can create. Film and novels cannot take you there.

Still, as silly and broken as it could ever be, Friday the 13th stayed true to its source material, and that’s never more evident than in that complex final victory method I teased earlier. If you work really well together as a team, you can do one better thing than run away from Jason – you can finish him off.

It’s complicated. To do this, you need to unmask him, have a female counselor act as Jason’s mother, and then push him into a vulnerable state. If Tommy then hits him, it’s all over. You win. Horror stories are weird.

Things like this are a reminder of how much love went into making this game and how much room there was to grow. But fate had other plans. Just as Jason likes to screw up a summer vacation, a rights argument and lawsuits lead to the DLC being canceled and development halted. Friday the 13th is ready to play today, but it’s slick and broken and I wouldn’t recommend it.

But listen, isn’t that classic Jason too? Just when you think he’s dead, he comes back to life. And maybe this series, which opened up the whole world of horror to me, will get another chance to make it as a game. If so, I’ll be there waiting. And I’ll make sure to stock up on pocket knives, because you never know.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top