Lately, it’s been a bit of a rough time being a Friday the 13th fan. The Blu-ray set is out of print and goes for way too much money online. The new movie was cancelled within weeks of shooting and it doesn’t look like there’s any attempt to create something new in its wake. There is no new Friday the 13th on the horizon, which is a little terrifying because we’ve had nearly a decade of at least new writers and directors being attached. Friday fans had virtually nothing to look forward to, and then there was this game.
Or rather, they had nothing to look forward to but this game because it was announced around three years ago. That’s where I think a lot of the disappointment stems from. But it’s certainly not disappointment I share. I get that it had serious launch issues, the way any online game tends to have. It crashed immediately on release because ten times more people wanted to play the game than their servers had prepared for.
To me, that just sounds like a success story. That sounds like Gun Media is the little game studio that could. They’re just a handful of people working with a major license, one that even its own fans didn’t think had mainstream potential anymore, and even if they’re still ironing out the kinks, they’ve made something truly special.
This game is the biggest, best thing to happen to this franchise in years, maybe since the release of Freddy vs. Jason. This is a game that’s showing mainstream potential, yet it’s totally, completely, ridiculously catered to the fans. I can’t believe how much attention to detail there is, between the maps and the Jason designs and the kills and the return of Tommy Jarvis and so on and so forth. It still glitches now and then, but there is so much going for it.
But there’s so much thought put into the game in general. Each version of Jason looks almost identical to their on-screen counterpart, and each has their own strengths and weaknesses that make sense with their given movies. Part 3’s Jason can run, but isn’t quite as powerful as Part 7. While Part 7’s Jason is strong, he’s also slow and exhausts his abilities quickly. You unlock various incarnations of Jason as you go, which is great to ensure that players don’t get bored and keep having something to strive toward.
Playing as a counselor, though, can be just as fun as playing as Jason. Like the various Jasons, each counselor has their own strengths and weaknesses. Some are very stealthy, but are terrible at fixing things, which can be a pretty big problem. Winning a match really comes down to a matter of survival, and there are a few different ways you can do it.
First, you can fix the car, which requires finding a battery, finding gas, and finding the keys. It definitely works better with a little teamwork. You can also try to escape via the boat, which only requires gas and a propeller to get going. Or you can repair the phone and call the police. If you want to be bold, killing Jason is a possibility, but requires some intricate steps, which should also fill fans of the franchise with glee.
To kill Jason, one person has to find his shack, which is not on the map, and steal the sweater just like Ginny does in Part 2. They have to use the sweater to trick Jason, and then someone has to knock Jason’s mask off, because that’s also an iconic part of the early movies. That mask almost always flew off in the third act. Finally, someone playing as Tommy Jarvis has to swoop in while Jason is stunned and swing a machete—can’t be another weapon—into the side of Jason’s head, just like he did as a boy.
There is so much fan service in that and I absolutely love it. This game has brought fans of the series together in such a cool way. The multiplayer aspect is a great way to share in the pure joy of this game with people who love the series just as much as you do.
Another thing I love about it is that Friday the 13th has always been a franchise you shout back at as a non-participant. The game allows you to put your money where your mouth is and actually see how well you would survive in that situation. There’s something inherently fun about that. The tropes of the series are also worked in kind of brilliantly as well. If you exhaust yourself running, you’re going to start tripping over nothing. When Jason’s close enough and your fear level rises, you start panicking and being unable to see where you’re going.
As great as it is to see fans come together over this game, it’s almost more exciting to see that it has already created so many new fans. Every now and then, you’ll get a toxic public match full of twelve-year-olds who’d just rather call everyone names, but sometimes you’ll be playing with people who are seeing all of this for the first time, and it’s usually pretty civil. I’ve had a lot of fun telling people “Oh, if you want to see more about the shack and the sweater, you should watch Part 2.” Or “Hey, that Jason and that kill are from Part 7, you should check that one out.”
Some people are still very angry, and I get that. They wanted the game to work perfectly right off the bat and it didn’t. in some ways it still doesn’t, though it’s gotten a whole lot better since it launched. But I don’t agree at all that the game wasn’t worth the $40 it cost, especially in a world where people are paying way more than $40 for the Jason X novels online.
This is one of the best things that’s happened to Friday the 13th and its fans in a long, long time. Even if it needs a few more maps, needs a few kinks worked out still, it’s so much more than I ever believed a Friday the 13th game could be, and that’s what really matters at the end of the day.