Friday the 13th: The Game looks like dumb fun, just like the films

Last Updated July 13th, 2021

The Friday the 13th film franchise has long been known for its high levels of campiness and cartoonish deaths. It’s not a particularly good series in terms of actual quality, but most of the films make for pretty fun viewing. Looking at trailers and gameplay footage of Friday the 13th: The Game, which comes out today, I don’t think anyone should expect an instant classic. What we can probably look forward to, though, is a ridiculous slasher-fest that lives up to the not-great-but-still-fun standard that the films set forth.

As a Friday the 13th film fan, I’d have to say that’s in a no way a bad thing.

Jason Lives

When it was first announced, fans were quick to praise the idea of a Friday the 13th game. After all, this is a horror series that has been around since the ’80s and strikes a very strong nostalgic chord with many. But if you think about it, that series was never really all that good to begin with, outside of a couple of films. Even then, it was more about shock factor and gore rather than any sort of coherent plot or meaningful storytelling. And that’s fine, because we have other great film franchises for that.

Friday the 13th is the horror equivalent of a popcorn flick. It isn’t exactly memorable, but it also isn’t trying to be. Judging from what we’ve seen of Friday the 13th: The Game pre-launch, I think fans are in store for a similar experience, albeit in video game form. The Jason-versus-teenagers theme of the game definitely seems fun, especially if it’s all contained within a Left 4 Dead-esque multiplayer package, but I really don’t think it has the legs to keep people interested long-term.

A New Beginning

Remember Friday the 13th on the NES, the 1989 LJN-published abomination? I played that game at a time when I didn’t know just how awful it was. As a kid, it was terrifying because it was based on a horror movie franchise I was too scared to watch. Looking back, that game was pretty awful — perhaps too awful, even, to bear the Friday the 13th name.

This new game, however, doesn’t look that bad. It just doesn’t look all that incredible, either. The animations are pretty stiff, the characters’ faces are ugly, and the graphics in general look dated. Now, not-so-great visuals don’t always keep a game from being good, but those janky character movements are reminiscent of a PlayStation 2 era game, and those facial models are, well, they’re just bad.

That said, ugly character designs shouldn’t keep Friday the 13th: The Game from being any fun. But if the footage that’s been shown is any indication, the project is definitely lacking in terms of polish. Even if what we’ve seen isn’t the final product, the fact that the beta gameplay isn’t a bit better looking is certainly concerning. If I had to play devil’s advocate, I’d wager that Friday the 13th: The Game will suffer from some bugs, environmental glitches, and other minor issues.

More severely, it could possibly fall victim to server issues. After all, if something like For Honor, which is an Ubisoft product, doesn’t have the most stable servers, it’s impossible to rule out that a smaller project like Friday the 13th: The Game may have some connectivity issues. I really hope that’s not the case, but it could happen. And if it does, that could be disastrous.

The New Blood

I’m looking at Friday the 13th: The Game from multiple angles. The critic in me just wants to play and dissect everything I like and dislike about it while simultaneously urging other potential players to either snag the title or stay away. The consumer in me wants to wait and see if I should even bother spending my money on something that could potentially end up being a bad game or, at the very least, in need of some serious patches at launch.

But the horror fan – no, the Friday the 13th fan in me just wants to play this game because it’s a movie franchise I grew up with and this is something I would’ve been totally stoked about years ago. And if I’m being 100 percent honest, I’m actually kind of excited about it now — I just have my expectations set appropriately, because Friday the 13th: The Game doesn’t look great, but it looks okay. And really, okay may be good enough for this product given its history.

That’s not to say that consumers should just accept some games as less than stellar and give their hard-earned money to developers. No, that’s not good business, and it doesn’t push the game makers to raise the bar. But in terms of this series — and because I seriously doubt we’ll see another Friday the 13th or Halloween or Texas Chainsaw Massacre video game anytime soon — if we get something that’s at least fun to play for a couple of months, I’ll be satisfied.

Perhaps if this was something like The Evil Dead, we could talk about the awesome game that great movie deserves. But this is Friday the 13th. If all we get is a crass, ludicrous, bloody mess that’s at least still fun to play for a bit, well, then we’ll have gotten a video game that pays perfect tribute to the film franchise it’s based on.

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