Today is Friday the 13th. And on this day, Jason Voorhees, the hockey mask-wearing zombie from Camp Crystal Lake, rises from the grave and exacts his freaky revenge on those he feels are responsible for the beheading of his precious mummy. Over the years, Jason has murdered, mutilated and mulched hundreds of horny teens without a second thought. But on this Friday 13th, let’s remember Jason’s most heinous crime yet – convincing thousands of gamers to part with their hard-earned cash to buy a video game that couldn’t even be described as Beta ready.
Friday the 13th: The Game was released on May 26th, 2017 to much fanfare. Developed as a passion project by Randy Greenback and IllFonic, the game revisited the familiar setting of the numerous Friday the 13th movies, allowing players the chance to either take on the role of one of the franchises most popular ‘victims’ and escape the camp in one piece, or to take on the mantle of the man behind the mask and hunt those pesky campers down one by one, murdering them in the most unimaginable ways ever. Simply put, it was a brilliant idea.
Prior to the 2017 video game, there had only ever been one other Jason-centric offering on the home computer market, the so-bad-it-could-never-be-good 1989 NES game, also titled Friday the 13th. Technology had come incredibly far over the 28 years since then, so obviously, hopes were high for Greenback’s update. Expectations though seldom meet reality, and this was no exception.
Warning flags should have gone up when the game failed to appear in the Xbox Marketplace on release day. I don’t know how many different ways I tried to search for it, it simply wasn’t there. People I know had the same problem. We all wanted to hand IllFonic and Gun Media our money, but there just wasn’t any way of doing it.
Eventually, after firing up my laptop and finding it that way, the download process began. I have to admit, seeing the various pics of an HD Jason Voorhees, and the ultra-realistic Camp Crystal Lake flash across my screen while I waited for the game to load, just made me want to play even more. The attention to detail had clearly been second to none, and this was going to be well worth the £30.00 sale price.
Waiting would become the theme of the day. The week. The month. You see, once Friday the 13th: The Game had finally installed itself onto my Xbox, there was simply no way to play it. For whatever reason (server overload perhaps), it was nigh impossible to actually join a game. I could see people talking about it online, but for whatever reason, I just couldn’t join in the fun. Neither could my friends. Or their friends. Or half the people I spoke to online. In fact, it took around 10 days for me to actually get onto my first game, and even then the server connections were tenuous at best.
Visually, Friday the 13th: The Game is incredible. Jason Voorhees has never looked so good. You truly get a feel for what it’s like to be the character, starting out in his little shack, complete with a shrine to his dead mother Pamela, and then heading out into your old stomping grounds to spoil someone’s day. There’s a clever use of the paranormal aspects of Jason’s character too, meaning you don’t simply have to plod around while the camp councillors run away from you, although the mechanics of this take a while to get used to. From the councillors perspective, you have a number of missions to complete before you can escape the camp and survive the horror. Sadly, these are incredibly repetitive, and unless you’ve rocked up hours and hours of repeat gameplay, you’ll probably find yourself hiding under a bed, or in a cupboard, while Jason closes in on you once and for all.
Repetitiveness is probably the games biggest downfall. It’s like playing Call of Duty‘s Free-for-All mode over and over again and being the guy that gets shot and blown up every 5 seconds – it gets very old very quickly, and no amount of love and attention from the developers can make up for that. Eventually, you just stop playing.
Now, I’m not saying that everyone who bought Friday the 13th: The Game will feel the same way as me. In fact, there are probably people out there who still play it as much now as they did back in May of last year. But what I am saying is, Gun Media et al should probably have waited a little longer before releasing a game that was so flawed, so frustrating, and sometimes, so unplayable. But they didn’t, and as a result, a large percentage of backers love for the project was killed deader than Jason himself, and with the recent legal difficulties surrounding the game and the Friday the 13th franchise as a whole, it would seem it won’t be returning from the grave any time soon.