Friday the 13th: The Game has enjoyed a great deal of success since its launch last August. Not only has it proved a hit with longtime Friday fans, but it has also introduced a new generation to the unstoppable fury of Crystal Lake’s favourite son. Why has this game worked so well? One reason is the passion behind it, which becomes obvious from the moment you boot it up and find yourself in an all too familiar deserted grounds of Camp Crystal Lake.
Movie license games often struggle to capture at least some screen accuracy. Fortunately, Friday the 13th: The Game has it lock, stock and barrel. This first becomes clear in the Jasons you can play, each lovingly re-created from the films, from before he got his iconic mask in Part 2, to the copycat killer in Part 5. Masks and clothing are re-created with pinpoint accuracy, and that’s not all. Each Jason is also accompanied by their own theme music, lifted right from the soundtracks of their respective movies. No matter what iteration it is, it’s always unsettling to hear Harry Manfredini’s iconic score rising from the bush.
As if the Jasons themselves weren’t impressive enough, the developers also looked to the movies themselves to create the maps. Each map is based on a film location, from the iconic Camp Crystal Lake from Friday the 13th to the Higgins Haven barn and farmhouse from Friday the 13th Part 3. Each map evokes the mood of their respective films, effectively putting the players in each movie. Whether you’re a counsellor trying to escape, or Jason seeking fresh victims, romping through these screen accurate settings isn’t any less fun.
One of the most enjoyable and unusual additions to the game was the Virtual Cabin. The Virtual Cabin is quite possibly the most comprehensive and detailed museum to Friday the 13th ever created. The cabin is filled with 3D renditions of props from the films. Once the player picks them up, they’re treated to exciting trivia on the movies. If the player collects the right props, they’ll be able to unlock new areas of the cabin to explore and new pieces of trivia to learn. If you play for long enough, the Virtual Cabin can get dangerous.
Once certain props are collected, Jason himself proceeds to stalk the player, punishing them if they fail at one of the Virtual Cabin’s many puzzles, so watch your step! If the player survives until the end of this three-part challenge, they’re given a special glimpse of some upcoming additions to the game. Virtual Cabin can be re-set, allowing the player to experience this fun museum and puzzle game as many times as they like.
Every franchise has its fair share of memorable characters, and Friday the 13th: The Game brings many of Jason’s hapless victims back from the grave. Not only that, the game also gets the original actors to boot!
Gloria Charles and Larry Zerner return to portray Fox and Shelly from Friday the 13th Part 3 respectively. Even more welcome was the return of Thom Matthews as Tommy Jarvis, a fan favourite and Jason’s longtime nemesis as he appeared in Friday the 13th Part 6.
One of the biggest stars of any Friday property is the gore, and the makers of this game brought in an expert to make it extra messy. Special effects artist Tom Savini, who designed the Jason make-up and gruesome death scenes in the original Friday the 13th as well as Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, also came on board. Savini came up with the kill concepts for the game, bringing his familiar sadistic streak to the game’s violent death animations. Not only that, he also designed an all-new exclusive Jason available for a few lucky players.
But counsellors weren’t the only ones who were played by their original actors. So was the game’s star. Motion capture for the villainous slasher was done by none other than Kane Hodder, who played Jason for a record four movies from 1988 to 2001. Iconic for his imposing body language, Hodder has always been a fan favourite, and his return to the character made Jason all the more fun to play.
An oft-neglected aspect of the Jason character is his motivations, something Friday the 13th: The Game thankfully doesn’t skimp on. Pamela Voorhees, Jason’s mother and killer from the original Friday the 13th, is featured prominently. Jason begins each match in front of his crude shrine to the late Lady Voorhees, with her mummified head commanding him to do what he’s always done for her. Kill. This gives players the opportunity not only to walk around in Jason’s skin but inside his head as well.
Whenever Jason claims a victim, Pamela’s voice praises his actions and demands more teen blood. Players can also use this to their advantage. Female counsellors can locate Jason’s cabin and steal Pamela’s sweater, using it to confuse him as Ginny did in Friday the 13th Part 2. By the end of the match, Jason returns home where his mother rewards him with points, allowing the player to level up and unlock more features in the game. Small touches like this highlight the tragic core of the Jason character, one of the reasons for his lasting appeal.
Of course, none of these things would matter if the game wasn’t fun, and Friday the 13th: The Game is very fun. The game features two drastically different play styles to chose from. One is, of course, playing Jason himself. His goal is to kill all the counsellors before they escape or the timer runs out. This is accomplished via various supernatural abilities, which give Jason the power to teleport around the map and detect where counsellors are hiding. After catching a counsellor, the player has a wide variety of gruesome options to dispatch them, courtesy of gore maestro Tom Savini. With Jason, the fun comes from gory creativity.
Perhaps even more fun is playing the counsellor, who must either escape or survive until the end of the match. Counsellors partake in a tense game of hide and seek, moving through cabins, collecting weapons and gear, all while avoiding the receiving end of whatever sharp implement Jason happens to be carrying. This mode puts the player in the climax of any Friday movie where the plucky protagonist must avoid Jason and perhaps defeat him once and for all. Is the player capable of escaping Jason, or killing him? With him forever on your tail, these twenty-minute matches never get boring.
It’s rare to see a movie based game that captures the feel of its source material so well, but Friday the 13th: The Game succeeds on every level. Not only does it capture the look and feel of the films, but it also captures their spirit of outrageous violence mixed with lighthearted fun. Most film tie-in games are soulless cash grabs done by people with no love for the property they’re based on. The exact opposite is true of Friday the 13th: The Game. While playing it, it’s hard to imagine how the makers could have possibly loved it more.
I hope you liked this post and be sure to check out more of our content at ScreenHub as well as my posts on 2001: A Space Odessey and why Alien Isolation is one of the best Alien sequels.