If you’re into horror video games, classic slasher classics, or just things that rule, I’m sure you’ve already seen the just-released gameplay video from FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE GAME. If not, check it out below:
Cool, right? But there’s only so much you can tell from a short video, so I caught up with FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE GAME’s creator, Wes Keltner, at E3 to go more in-depth about the game’s controls, features, and more.
Deep Inside The Hockey Mask: The Powers of Jason Voorhees
FRIDAY THE 13TH is an asymmetrical competitive game, meaning whomever plays as Jason can use a collection of powers that are way more deadly than a mere camp counselor’s.
First the passive power: Jason has fantastic ears. If someone is running through the woods, trying to fix a vehicle, or otherwise attempting to not die, Jason has a good chance of hearing him or her, especially if they’re scared (more on the fear mechanic later). Counselors do not get the same jump on Jason, of course. Just like in the movies, Jason can sneak up on you, and you won’t know it until you hear that “Ch-ch-ch-ha-ha-HA!” and a rusty machete splits your wig.
Jason is more than just a good listener, though. He has a suite of active powers too, including two different types of teleportation. Long-distance teleporting lets the serial killer warp from one far-away location to another instantly from the map screen.
The second kind of teleportation is for shorter distances, and is designed to make it easier for Jason to catch up to counselors or surprise them. If you’re stalking a counselor, you can warp in front of them, materializing just in time for a classic FRIDAY THE 13TH style jump scare, or, as you see in the video, plant yourself right in front of the door as the poor counselors opens it.
Teleportation isn’t exactly canon from the films of course, but it’s needed in the game, and it actually does explain how movie-Jason can catch up to people who are running while he’s moving at his steady, leisurely pace.
Like a wild animal, Jason can smell fear. Well, he can sense it, anyway. One of Jason’s most useful powers lets you feel the fear of nearby counselors, so if “The Virgin” is cowering under a bed in a nearby cabin, Jason can tell because the whole building lights up red. But Jason can’t tell where, specifically, someone is hiding. So as you’re cowering in a closet, just keep telling yourself that maybe he won’t check there. “Ch-ch-ch-ha-ha-HA…”
The last active Jason ability is the ability to smash through doors instantly. Ordinarily, locked doors take awhile to break down, allowing you victims a chance to escape, but with this power charged, you can just burst through doors instantly.
It wouldn’t be a Jason game without some brutal kills. As you can see from the video, Jason’s kills are context-sensitive, so if you capture someone near a tree, you can splatter their face into the trunk, for instance. Great kills earn you more than just style points, though; they refill your special abilities faster, and with all your powers on timers, you’ll definitely want to make the murders as brutal as possible. They also give players experience points that transfer from game to game and will eventually affect gameplay. Gun media is still working on the specifics.
Counselors can escape from your grasp, so Jason will have to weigh whether he can make it to the special kill spot before his prey wriggles free, or whether it makes sense to just run them through with a machete.
Game director Wes Keltner says that individual players can play Jason in different ways. It’s possible to play as straight-up, murder-everyone-quick Jason, but it’s also possible to play as a more calculated, sadistic Jason. You can toy with other players, letting them run free with just an injury so you can catch up to them later or letting them think they’ve escaped, only to materialize in front of them.
The Counselors: Managing Your Fear
The counselors have two main variables to keep an eye on: Stamina and Fear. As in most games, sprinting wears out your stamina, and if it gets low, you might trip while running, or have to stop to catch your breath.
The second variable in FRIDAY THE 13th is the counselors’ fear level. Just like in the movies, scared counselors make mistakes and are easier for Jason to track, so if you hope to survive the night, you have to manage your terror. Everyone has a flashlight, and turning it on makes you less scared, but it also makes you more visible. Being around other counselors lowers your fear too. An encounter with Jason or the discovery of a dead body, on the other hand, spikes your fear, and makes you easier prey.
While Jason’s goal is obviously to kill everyone, his potential victims have a variety of ways they can win/survive. They can fix a car to drive out of the Crystal Lake, repair the motorboat and motor to safety, fix the telephones and call the authorities, or even kill Jason with weapons strewn about the maps. But you’ll need engineering skills if you want to fix the boat quickly, and you’d better be plenty strong and well-armed if you’re going to go toe-to-toe with Jason. The locations of key objects are randomized with each game, so no one will be able to memorize locations for easy wins.
You can see how a lot of these mechanics work in the final scene in the video. The Preppy runs into the cabin and quickly turns on the radio to try and confuse Jason’s hearing. He opens the back window, trying to trick Jason into thinking he’s left. Then he hides under the bed.
Jason lurks outside the window, in The Preppy’s line of sight. It’s more than just an awesomely cinematic moment though. By standing in view, Jason is spiking the fear levels of anyone under the bed. Later, when he smashes through the door, Jason can tell that a very scared counselor is under the bed, leading to another bloody murder scene. Had Jason just rushed in, perhaps the counselor’s plan would have worked.
While every counselor in FRIDAY THE 13th can do every task, some classes are better or faster at some things. For instance, The Nerd is good at engineering, but he can’t fight nearly as well as The Jock. The Virgin is naturally less fearful than some other characters, but not as strong.
There is no specific reward for counselors working together, and it’s possible for some counselors to escape and some to be killed, so players can form temporary alliances only to stab each other in the back later on. For instance, there are only two seats on the boat, so you might have an engineer character fix it, and then leave him on shore to keep Jason occupied while you sail away.
It Feels Like A Friday The 13th Movie
Obviously the game’s setting, music, motion capture, and characters are designed to mimic a FRIDAY THE 13th movie, but in a more subtle way, the gameplay does the same thing. According to Keltner, lots of play testers have found themselves behaving exactly how “dumb” characters in the movies do, whether it’s running blindly through the woods in fear, splitting up instead of sticking together, or trying to fight Jason when he’s obviously much stronger than they are. When it’s finally released, you’ll have the chance to see if you could do better than those dimwits who keep getting their heads chopped off in the movies.
According to Keltner, the simplicity of the game’s hide-n’-seek (n’ murder) mechanic will make it enjoyable even for people who kind of suck at games, but the endless strategic possibilities will keep the hardcore onboard too. And who wouldn’t want to play as Jason Voorhees?
FRIDAY THE 13th: THE GAME will be released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC this year, for the low price of $29.99.