Friday the 13th: The Game was the little title that almost could. Despite the mess of licensing that held it back, it managed to find an audience during Dead By Daylight‘s massive dominance over the asymmetrical multiplayer horror boom.
What made Friday the 13th: The Game compelling to fans was its dedication to the source material and its accurate depiction of scenarios from the films. In the game, one player portrayed Jason, while the other players took on the roles of counselors attempting to survive. This led to thrilling chases and escapes, punctuated by brutal fatalities.
It was fun while it lasted, but it was also infamous for its lack of polish. Gun Interactive was not deterred; however, they had no choice but to move on from Camp Crystal Lake and set their sights on Texas. Gamers could not have expected, nor would they have wished to see, as much of the mad and macabre as they were about to experience in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review or read the full review of the below:
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Developer: Sumo Digital
Publisher: Gun Interactive
Platforms: Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (reviewed)
Release Date: August 18, 2023
Price: $39.99 USD
Texas Chain Saw Massacre follows a group of youths who encounter a family of deranged cannibals while traveling through Texas. They get kidnapped and taken to the family’s decrepit dungeons and try to avoid Leatherface, a chainsaw-wielding maniac, and his psychotic relatives.
The 1974 film portrays their desperate attempts to escape the clutches of the sadistic family and their horrifying encounters with violence and terror. The movie is known for its intense atmosphere and gritty visuals, and Gun Interactive’s game aspires to emulate the visceral tension of these climactic sequences.
The concept of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as an asymmetrical horror multiplayer game makes logical sense. In this setup, the murderous Slaughter family (formerly known as Sawyer/Hewitt) constitutes a team of three players, pitted against four players assuming the roles of victims. Each side has its unique goals to pursue and its own distinct gameplay dynamics.
As the family, players are tasked with feeding blood to Grandpa, which can be found in collection buckets around the environment or extracted from the victims. Where Gun Interactive’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre takes a bizarre departure from the grounded film by giving Grandpa a sonar ability and establishing a hivemind psychic connection with the rest of the family.
This mechanic makes no sense in the logic of the setting and characters. It suggests that perhaps The Texas Chain Saw Massacre film is too constrained in its scope to be effectively translated into a video game. Those who can accept this unconventional choice will discover that, despite its absurdity, it is ultimately pivotal in making the gameplay as the family function.
Most victims start wounded in the basement and will gradually bleed out over time. Using scattered health potions will restore a portion of the lost health, but this parameter is separate from the life bar. Emerging from the depths, victims must find their way out of one of the three maze-like levels, relying on stealth, teamwork, and the unique starsign ability of each victim.
Victims only need to find a way to escape to the main road, which is blocked by a gate. They don’t have to escape as a team; each victim effectively plays for themselves. The gate can be opened by locating a missing valve or deactivating a generator. Regardless of the method, victims must remain quiet, or they will alert players controlling the family.
Family players cannot be killed and must prevent victims from escaping. Only Leatherface can spawn in the dungeons alongside victims, and other family characters must wake up Grandpa to gain access to the area where the victims are located.
When Grandpa is awake, he will require blood. He levels up as he is fed enough blood, and with each level gained, he acquires new powers. Once activated, Grandpa’s abilities can reveal any moving player. This dynamic interaction between victims and the family is compelling, and the variety of bouts is further enhanced by the abilities that both sides can unlock from their skill trees.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre manages to be exciting whether playing as the family or victims. The skill tree is built in a way that requires commitment because there are many forks in the paths that close when an ability is acquired. Gamers can always respec any time, but no matter what, it is impossible to make a broad jack of all stats.
The gameplay is finely balanced across all characters. Despite Leatherface being the character most players will likely want to play as – the developers have managed to create a sense of uniqueness and utility for the rest of the family members.
Nubbins the hitchhiker can squeeze through narrow passages where Leatherface can’t, while Sissy is adept at harvesting blood to power up Grandpa and can also poison health kits.
Drayton the cook possesses an uncanny hearing ability, and Johnny can track victims’ blood. Many other abilities, such as the hitchhiker’s traps or Leatherface’s skill at disrupting escape routes, can be unlocked to maintain a diverse and engaging experience over time.
The incredible range of abilities extends to the victims too and while they lack personality, playing as them is very tense. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is successful at being the ultimate hide-and-seek online game.
While The Texas Chain Saw Massacre might excite fans initially, it noticeably lacks long-term value in its current state. This issue is reminiscent of Evil Dead: The Game, where the premise is too thin to sustain itself. However, in that game, there was at least some attempt at a single-player experience—albeit it was an afterthought.
Dead by Daylight holds the advantage of time. As the pioneer in its genre, it had no direct comparisons upon its initial release. Since its debut in 2016, the game has seen years of content additions and has cultivated a dedicated following.
Releasing The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in a completely barren state might not draw in new users, particularly when Dead by Daylight already features Leatherface, as well as the legally-distinct Hillbilly among its roster of killers.
Perhaps in the future, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre will receive updates similar to the offline missions found in Evil Dead: The Game, or like how Friday the 13th: The Game eventually did. An offline mode with bots is truly necessary—allowing players to practice, grasp the gameplay mechanics, and become familiar with the layouts of the three paltry stages.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre does dress to impress and manages to accurately depict the aesthetics of the first film. Sadly, only the rights to the original movie could be represented and this sorely limits the game. Sissy and Johnny are the only new family members and they have boring designs compared to Drayton, Nubbins, and Leatherface.
Leatherface is the only family member with alternate skins: butcher, old lady, and dinner jacket. The victims get boring color pallet swaps for their skins. Sadly, there are no skins based on Sally, sexy backless Pam, or even Stretch or Lefty from the sequel.
The family is in dire need of skins representing other family members. A skin based on Vilmers could be fitting for the cook, while Tinker’s gadget expertise would suit a hitchhiker skin well. What about Chop Top and Tex?
It’s unfortunate that Gun Interactive can’t utilize these characters, but they could have at least attempted to design Johnny and Sissy to be less boring.
Compared to Friday the 13th: The Game, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a dramatic improvement in its polish. Some minor things don’t make sense like Grandpa’s powers, but the core experience is thrilling and distinct from the other asymmetrical multiplayer horror games.
When The Texas Chain Saw Massacre receives a few substantial updates, similar to what happened with Evil Dead: The Game, it will realize its full potential. Going into it now is still a blast, but lacks enough meat on its bones to make a suit that would make Grandpa proud.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a code provided by Gun Interactive. Additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy can be found here. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.