Rain hammered on our heads at Camp Crystal Lake. Taking the lead as Tommy Jarvis, I and four other players made the daring decision to find Jason’s shack and locate his mother’s sweater. We stuck together, despite a few nail-biting moments when we feared Jason had us for good. After one player donned the sweater, we waited for him to come to us. Upon arrival, he became awe-struck at what he thought was the sight of the long-dead Pamela Voorhees. In a rare moment, Jason was powerless. Another player took advantage of the moment and swung their ax. The iconic hockey mask came off his head.
The killer was now on his knees. Music began to swell. It was my time. Machete in hand, I raced toward my enemy and buried the blade deep in his skull. In a moment straight out of The Final Chapter, Jason was defeated in gruesome fashion. For this match at least, we were victorious.
Ever since a rocky digital launch on May 26th, IllFonic and Gun Media’s Friday the 13th: The Game has come under a slew of criticism regarding a stream of bugs and instability, especially on consoles. To those unaware, it can seem like yet another passion project that ultimately promised more than it could deliver.
To this player, the story is quite different. My time with Friday the 13th began over winter break of my sophomore year of college. The project had moved to Backerkit from Kickstarter, and from the game’s social media I saw that in order to play the beta, I had to pre-order the game.
Given that such a well-known property was in hands I had unfortunately never heard of before the game was announced, it seemed like I was taking a plunge. The media the team put out looked promising, and I had read many articles on the status and development of the game. With a deep breath, I dove wholeheartedly, going so far as to pre-order a physical copy of the game for extra money (more on that later).
Before the beta began, I purchased the virtual cabin the team put out. It’s essentially a dev closet full of character models and props, as well as secrets that have been updated since it was released. From this, I garnered a deeper appreciation for the art style, something I had long admired from screenshots. The cabin plays in the first person, which lets you examine its contents in a more intimate way than the main game allows. The entire experience definitely boosted my excitement.
Then, the beta arrived. I had very few issues, none of which broke the game. Some proved to be funny, though I am well aware that I was among the fortunate whose experience wasn’t made unplayable. Naturally, many compare Friday to Dead By Daylight, and besides premise alone — asymmetric multiplayer slasher — the games do not really have so much in common. I have played both, and enjoy both, but even with just the beta, I knew that Friday was the ultimate experience.
Each match feels as though you are starring in one of the films, a feeling made more real by Kane Hodder’s motion-capture performance and the gorgeous graphics. Hodder has played Jason more times than any other actor, and the game would not be the same without his demeanor and performance. The developers also managed to get original composer Harry Manfredini to do the music for the game, which still blows my mind. When you combine all of these elements, you have the most faithful game based off of a film series that we’ll see for some time. Time spent as a counselor is tense for the whole match, and when you’re chosen at random to play as Jason, it’s as intense and powerful as you would expect.
For those who have played it that I have talked to, or have convinced to get it — they were surprised by the depth of the indie horror game that could. Naturally, many fans were frustrated by delays the game experienced, including the physical copies. However, the teams went above and beyond, providing digital Steam keys to those who pre-ordered physical copies, which would work on the day of the digital launch. When the BackerKit physical copies were delayed despite brick-and-mortar stores receiving copies, the team sent them along with an added magnet, sticker, and poster to thank us for our patience.
So why still the backlash? Is it coming from an impatient gaming community, one who has waited for things that seemed too good to be true, and ended up being so? While that may be the case, these developers are certainly here for the long haul.
If you have read my previous work or that of the other Indie Ranger writers, you know how important developer dedication is to us. Many members of Friday’s team are active on Twitter, and tweet on the status of updates. Alternatively, the website and forums are consistently updated with information on what the team is working on. One recent example is the Paranoia game mode, which was teased in October but has since been pushed back. The team does not feel like it is up to their standards after internal playtesting. They have added patches that fixed match balancing, as well as adding the option to take away the much-maligned team killing option.
Other updates, however, have been completely free. They’ve included everything from counselor clothing to new Jasons (which are more than just a re-skin), new counselors, and entire maps, with more planned for the future, like Uber Jason and a Jason X map. This past December also saw the launch of Virtual Cabin 2.0, again for free, which included a bevy of clever Easter eggs and will be updated as more content is added. Soon, single player challenges will arrive so players can hone their skills as Jason, and offline bots were added in a previous update for the same reason.
The only paid DLC that currently exists consists of cosmetic items: kill packs, an emote pack and some additional outfits for counselors. How Illfonic and Gun Media are able to continue providing so much free content is beyond me. Even so, I for one am eternally grateful for their dedication and for said content. I wonder what plans they have for the future of the game. Do they plan to take on another beloved horror IP? Add additional modes, maps, and characters? Perhaps we will one day see Pamela Voorhees herself in game as more than just a voice. One thing is for sure . . .
Much like Jason, I’ll keep coming back for more.
Do you have any questions for the developers of Friday the 13th: The Game? Let us know in the comments!