The lights are on
Let’s pretend the awful Friday the 13th game for the NES never happened. Let’s also clarify that while Splatterhouse’s Rick looks a lot like Jason Voorhees, it’s nowhere close to a slasher game. Horror games have been running rampant in the indie development scene, but we still don't have a stellar Friday the 13th game. In celebration of today’s date, here’s what we’d want from a next-gen game starring the eternal terror that is Jason Voorhees.
Set the mood for this article by listening to the funky title theme to Friday the 13th Part 3.
Not everyone's outfit is as timeless as Voorhee's rags
Set The Era
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon did an incredible job evoking the spirit of ‘80s action and sci-fi movies with its synth soundtrack, cheapo enemy get-ups, and foggy atmosphere. A Friday the 13th game should attempt the same decade-specific design, except with a flair for the ‘80s and early '90s. Wood paneling, mustard-colored furniture, and victims wearing acid washed jeans are a must. The would-be developers could also tap into the classic “cheh, cheh, cheh, ahh, ahh, ahh…” musical cue to indicate when Jason is nearby. Sort of like the static effect in the Slender series. We also expect the victims to toss around dated slang like “radical” or “cassette tape.”
Stay away from the windows
A Sadistic Single-Player Mode
Jason could wipe out a high school prom dance floor in about 15 seconds, but he’s more methodical than that. The sadistic killer revels in splitting up groups, setting up elaborate kills, and using the environment to rattle his victims into a hysterical frenzy. Creating diversions, like knocking over trashcans or nailing woodland creatures to trees would force victims to investigate and split up from the group. Players could set up over-the-top death traps like an electrified Jacuzzi or impaling someone on a mounted deer head. The best traps would take a modicum of resource preparation and planning.
Players could also get a feel for the characters by eavesdropping on conversations from the shadows. This would not only add some color to the story, but help you deduce the best order to take out the victims. Want to fray the nerves of the tough, brazen jock so he doesn’t try to fight back? Better make sure he finds his cheerleader girlfriend’s head in the punchbowl. Want to scatter a group? Toss the stoner’s body through a plate glass window. Expertly rattling the victims could cause them to think irrationally in classic horror film fashion, like running upstairs instead of bolting out the front door or overlooking the loaded shotgun above the fireplace. An option for punishing sloppy killers would be for the police to show up with itchy trigger fingers and high-powered flashlights. Quickly hiding the evidence and laying low could cause the cops to leave, reducing the risk of getting gunned down. But taking out the cops and displaying their corpses to the victims might cause their anxiety to shoot through the roof. The AI would have to be finely tuned to create the illusion of being a stealthy, methodical killer.
Jason quietly hopes she doesn't realize he borrowed her nice shampoo
The single-player Friday the 13th game we’ve suggested would be great, but there’s also potential for some suspenseful multiplayer. Imagine a mixture of Splinter Cell’s Spies vs. Mercs multiplayer and Left 4 Dead. Jason stalks around the map, setting traps and false trails while three or four hapless victims party in their safe room, waiting for the match to start. The action begins when the player controlling Jason either launches a full-on assault or tries to split them up with traps and fake-out noises. A first-person perspective for all players would restrict peripheral vision for maximum paranoia. Limiting Jason’s view with the eye slits of his goalie mask would give the powerful killer a slight disadvantage. The victims might have an advantage in numbers to begin with, but the tides slowly turn as Jason cleverly takes them out by splitting them and using bear traps or spike pits to trip them up. Similar to Left 4 Dead, surviving alone isn’t impossible but highly unlikely. Coordination and planning are required if you want to take out Jason. Someone has to toss the chain noose around his neck while the other chucks the attached cement block off the dock into the lake. Ideally, each map would include a selection of possible ways to take out Jason.
A map set in Manhattan would have to end with Jason being dissolved by New York's infamous sewer acid
Camp Crystal Lake is the perfect location to balance a Friday the 13th map around. Wooded wilderness, a smattering of cabins, camp grounds, and the lake docks offer a variety of open and claustrophobic areas. We’d like to see other maps highlight movies in the iconic horror series. The huge boat from Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan, with a dramatic conclusion ending in New York itself. The huge safe house used for mental patients in Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning. Even the space station from the hilariously god awful Jason X would be great, with its vats of liquid nitrogen, narrow corridors, and the potential of launching people into the depths of space. Friday the 13th has a rich history to mine for potential map locations, and hopping between eras would be fun.
Fence posts make handy iron spears in a pinch
Everything Is A Weapon
Jason has murdered his victims in almost every conceivable way. He’s beaten a sleeping bag filled with campers against a tree and punched a man’s head clean off his shoulders. Like the Dead Rising series, everything in the environment should be usable as a weapon no matter how wacky. Televisions, rakes, harpoons, rusty bicycle frames – you name it. A selection of more conventional weapons like guns and baseball bats could be picked up by clever victims. Greater variety in death implementations leads to more improvisation options when that paranoid camper unexpectedly looks over their shoulder and spots Jason.
Cardio isn't really Jason's strong suit
Gameplay That Remains True
Classic slasher monsters like Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers aren’t known for their sprinting abilities. What these boogeymen lack in agility they make up for in strength and planning. Jason’s default speed should be a lumbering, brisk walk, with a limited meter that lets him hustle to break line of sight or close the gap on a fleeing victim. The restrictive view of his hockey mask and limited mobility means players have to be observant in order to remain undetected. In multiplayer mode the victims could be speedier, but with the tradeoff of stumbling on tree branches and other objects when at full sprint.
Whichever blessed developer is stupid or brave enough to tackle the controversial premise of becoming a notorious serial killer has a tough road ahead of them. Flipping the script and becoming the monster is enticing to any longtime horror fan, and the potential for tense multiplayer matches is exciting to imagine. Getting such a blatantly violent and sadistic title might be difficult, but the right amount of ‘80s-themed tongue-in-cheek humor could soften the grim premise of systematically killing hapless horror film archetypes.
These ideas only reflect our ideas for a modern Friday the 13th game. What would you like to see? Oh, and Happy Friday the 13th!
Email the author Tim Turi, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.