Given that we’re smack in the middle of the spooky season- and yes, for many of us, Halloween is a month-long celebration- I find that this is one of the easiest times to marry two of my pop culture passions: video games and horror movies. I’ve made it a mission to play through a few of the horror games I’ve been stowing in my backlog, hence my last review of Layers of Fear and hopefully at least one or two more before the pumpkins and sheets with holes in them are tucked away until next year.
Something keeps bringing me back to GunMedia’s Friday the 13th, though. I’m not big on multiplayer that involves matching up with random people and trying to play a game as I’ve had one too many toxic encounters and, to be honest, it makes me a little anxious to think about despite having had plenty of pleasant rounds of this one. Oddly enough, though, I’m enamored with the single-player offerings that the game has on display. For those of you who are hesitant to grab the game but are fans of the series, allow me to expound on why I still love this game despite not jumping into the real heart of its contents as a stellar-but-still-flawed asymmetrical horror romp. If you’re not a fan- well, obviously I still hope you enjoy this little off-the-cuff spurt of excitement.
Also, just as a precaution, there are some minor spoilers involved below, just in case anyone wants to go in completely blind to either of the single-player parts of the game.
Give Me Something To Scream About
It’s easier to pinpoint exactly what I love about the single-player Challenges. With a total of ten ‘vignettes’, Friday the 13th puts you in the grimy boots of the infamous Jason Voorhees as is in the middle of trying to murder a number of teenagers. While this is exactly what one might expect, there’s a degree of difficulty in opening the next Challenge from the one you are attempting, as you have to put to use keeping track of where your targets are, who might be in their line of sight, and what tools are at your disposal. I’m told this is a lot like the Hitman games, but I honestly haven’t tried those yet so I have to take other gamers’ words for that.
The beauty of these Challenges is all of them are slight variations on scenes from the films. The first finds you just off of a clearing where two young men are having car trouble and while one attempts to fix the car, the other goes off into the woods to relieve himself. Fans of the series will almost instantly recognize this from Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning. Another has you causing a power outage, resulting in a stoner couple who have to fix the problem among other people on the grounds. This echoes back to my favorite entry, Friday the 13th Part 3, and winds up playing out much like the climax of that movie does.
The developers were smart about this, however, and they vary up the scenarios so that they feel fresh and a little unfamiliar, partially due to the plugging of the game’s counselors into the roles fans already know and also due to the aspects that sometimes, characters will do something completely different than their analog in the film does. They really do become challenging after the first few, given that I still haven’t actually “completed” the final scenario. Challenges are good fun snippets that play out like a highlight reel for the Friday the 13th series and if like me, you aren’t fantastic at stealth style games, you’ll get some hours worth trying to perfect each mission.
“Paul, There’s Someone In This Room…”
Where I really spent a lot of time, however, was in the game’s Virtual Cabin. When you first ‘boot up’ the cabin, you find yourself in a nice cozy space that has been frozen in time. Teenagers lean against the railing of the second-floor overhang, the room is in just enough disarray to show it’s been lived in, and the only way anything moves is if you pick it up or manipulate it. After inputting some information on a nearby computer, you can move about and hover over nearly every item that stands out during which you are given the option to interact with it. Most of these items will result in a pop-up with some snippet of information about the game, the film series, or something about the actors and development involving both. At its core, the Virtual Cabin is an interactive encyclopedia of knowledge on Friday the 13th that even I, as a pretty stalwart fan, found some new bits of information from. That in and of itself was pretty worthwhile to me.
Then I noticed the puzzles. Small items that were out of place made their way into my ‘inventory’. The first time this happened, I stopped and my heart got a little fluttery- I wasn’t just looking up facts. There was a game to be played here and I would be damned if I wouldn’t solve these puzzles. Some of them involved putting figurines into a diorama of a scene from one of the movies in their correct positions. Another involved putting the different masks that Jason has worn in order on hooks against the wall. Every piece brought me closer to- something. I wasn’t really sure what. Eventually, I found my way into a part of the cabin I couldn’t get into before and with one interaction, it was over.
That didn’t seem right.
I jumped back in and after some struggles (and I’ll admit, a quick glance at a walkthrough), I found myself in a very different Virtual Cabin. To be clear, it was the same but after a few actions, the lights were out. The power box now had a large axe jutting from it. The frozen teenagers weren’t in their spots anymore in the main lobby of the cabin. There was a sense that someone was definitely in the cabin with me and that I was no longer safely doing puzzles and learning about my favorite film series. It felt like I was plunged into a survival horror situation. Hovering over things now gave different information which was still interesting trivia but stressed that I was now in a very unfamiliar setting. Once again, there were puzzles to be solved- but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little tense and dangerous to be walking around at that point.
All of that was before the third run through.
Some Folks Sure Got a Strange Idea of Entertainment
I won’t go any further with describing the Virtual Cabin experience since hopefully, you’ll get the chance to check it out yourself some time if it interests you. Are the Challenges and the Virtual Cabin worth the price of the whole game? Not really, though you can definitely get your hours worth out of them if you’re a big fan of the film series. While the multiplayer aspect of the game is pretty fun, I’ve honestly gotten a lot of mileage out of the single-player that I didn’t expect. I also think that this aspect gets swept into the shadow of the online aspects of Friday the 13th unfairly. If you’ve bought the game as an enthusiast and you haven’t spent time in the single-player modes, you really should. A lot of love for the source material and quality work went into both aspects and neither aspect really seem to get the recognition they deserve.
On that, happy haunting and have a great time until we meet again!
– Matt (a.k.a. The3rdPlayer)