Coming to us from Gun Interactive (developer of the Friday the 13th game) and Sumo Digital - Nottingham, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre game manages to appeal to so many, with very little variety. Oddly, the lack of variation is okay. At least for now, I can’t stop playing it. Playing this game is like playing a very dangerous version of Manhunt or Hide and Seek with your neighbors when you were a kid - just add in a few deranged psychopaths and a chainsaw.
Before you even jump into a match, you are graced with an eerie narration of a bit of history regarding the horrors that are to come. That, paired with the music and art of the homescreen, impeccably prepares you for the type of game you are about to load into. Playing as either the Victims or the Family, you are given the task of hunting and killing the Victims, or fleeing the scene before the Family can finish you off.
Three Family members and four Victims start at the beginning of each match with no timer - simply escape or die. For some reason, not to my disapproval, Leatherface always has to be one of the villains in the field, but apart from that, you can choose whoever you’d like. It won’t take long to find the one or two you prefer as you try them out. It’s certainly wise to stick to a couple, as you will have plenty to unlock and apply perks exclusively to each character. Once everyone has their character, it will load you into one of the three maps; Family House, Gas Station, and Slaughterhouse.
Victims are, of course, the poor young characters that stumbled across the Family and now need to escape. Currently this list consists of Leland, Connie, Ana, Sonny, and Julie, each packed with their own set of abilities including unique ways of escaping the psychotic Familie’s grasp. Similar to Friday the 13th, every character is judged on meters such as Toughness, Endurance, Strength, Proficiency, and Stealth. Both Victims and Family can be further particularized by the abilities you choose to assign them from the surprisingly extensive skill tree and then allocated to your loadout.
As the match begins, you find yourself tied up somewhere around the map, usually paired with a partner. One of the best Victim features is the way they communicate extensively with one another. After breaking free, I found myself sticking close to an ally just to hear their interactions. The responsive dialogue between the Victims is a pleasant surprise that I didn’t know I wanted until I heard it for the first time. There are multiple ways to escape not only entirely, but even for a brief moment. Unlike Friday The 13th: The Game, where you really only had cabins to hide, in this game there are plenty of breaks in the walls and animal doors to slide through. This feature is almost too helpful for the Victims, but it's needed due to the amount of villains on the map at once. As a Family member, I encountered many moments where I’d slash a Victim once or twice, get them to where I was positive they were nearly dead, and then poof, they’d disappear through a crack in the wall.
The Family is the element of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre that screams the loudest, and consists of Cook, Hitchhiker, Johnny, Sissy, and of course, Leatherface. Each member has a unique ability to help aid them in their search. Whether it be Sissy’s propensity to squeeze through any crack that a Victim can, or Johnny’s tracking capabilities, the Family comes packed with useful and idiosyncratic features that make them all enjoyable to play as.
When the game was first announced, I thought the idea of having three villains on the map at once would be unfair. Somehow, Gun Interactive managed to perfectly balance the teams in an effortless fashion. There is something so addicting to playing as the Family. The teamwork of sprinting through the map singing songs or revving my chainsaw as we hunt our helpless prey gives me a type of pure joy that I haven't felt in a video game before. There's a sense of relief knowing you have a few partners to help you lock the house down and slowly pick apart the Victims as a unit.
The kills are a portion of the game that fans of the film series will certainly want to be done right, and for the sake of the fans, they are more than acceptable. Each family member has their own type of execution, all just as brutal as the next. Being on the sharp side of a chainsaw, or gutted with a blade is haunting every time it happens to you as a Victim. As some Family members are stronger than others, Leatherface’s kills are much quicker from start to finish. Someone like
Sissy or Johnny though, they will slash at you multiple times before you croak. This is a design choice that places you in the middle of your favorite horror film. Attempting to flee as you are quickly losing more and more blood per gash while simultaneously being chased by a crazy person singing love songs is everyone's favorite scene from Pearl or A Clockwork Orange, and now you can relive it over and over inside The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
For me, the single cat and mouse mode is working, but my biggest fear while playing isn’t Leatherface chasing after me, but rather how long will I want to be a part of this game? Is there enough currently inside this game to keep me here for months to come? I don’t know. I hope the answer is yes, but there are a few things missing that if they do not add soon, I worry for the longevity of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre game. DLC is surely on the way, and cosmetics will come with that, but what we were given at launch seems to have a few holes in its content.
I feel if you are a fan of horror games and/or movies, you will have no problem finding enjoyment in this game for hours at a time. What it does, it does well. Sadly, the game is strictly online multiplayer with no offline game modes, or split-screen abilities. I could be alone, but the idea of knowing that no matter what happens to the servers of a game years from now, I can always return to it offline and have a good time is immensely comforting to me. It also lacks a variety of outfits you can unlock. A character like Leatherface has three options - the standard look, and two more to unlock through progression. Sissy, on the other hand, has no other outfits to equip. Sissy will undeniably be a player favorite and it seems like a no-brainer to have more options for appearances for her and other characters. Moreover, it is clear they chose favorites when it comes to the character customization portion of this online slasher.
Maybe the harshest offence is the lack of maps. Three may sound like a decent amount for a game like this. You may also think that Friday the 13th didn’t have many maps either. The difference, though, is scale. Where Friday the 13th had a few sizable campgrounds to hide within, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre only has three medium to small maps with very similar conceptual designs – A dark, scary basement that leads up to a decrepit shelter of sorts, and the field of grass just outside or in between structures. I found myself getting the same map two or three times in a row which becomes tiresome for a map like Slaughterhouse that simply isn’t as well designed or memorable as the Family House map. With the maps being rather small, the matches seem to go by quite fast. I managed to take out two Victims in the matter of the first minute or two of the game by simply stumbling across them. It would be interesting to see how the 3V4 method works with a couple maps with more space to explore, flee, and hunt in a longer style match.
With the only real complaints being lack of content, it's fair to imagine a world where Gun Interactive and Sumo Digital - Nottingham are pumping content into this game for months and years to come. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre gives me a truly peculiar feeling that few games have this generation. With only one game mode, three maps, limited character customization, and no offline features, another game with the same offerings might be dead on arrival. But for some odd reason, I can’t stop playing it. I find myself saying, “just one more” for hours. Perhaps it's the colossal skill trees to build towards, the fact that the game runs well and is fun to play, or the well-balanced nature of the game that keeps me coming back. Regardless, I feel with more maps, maybe a few DLC characters, and few more game modes, I could see this game being around for a very long time. Who knows? Maybe we could even get Matthew McConaughey from The Next Generations.
Game Score: 4/5
(Trailer via IGN)