Following in the footsteps of Friday the 13th: The Game and other similar asymmetrical multiplayer releases, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a game full of great ideas and decent execution that will please horror fans, but some of its mechanics demand attention that potential players are likely not have.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is bar none the most important horror film to date. Without it, there wouldn’t be a slasher genre. For decades it’s been one of the most revered movies ever, and Hollywood has surely tried to capture its lightning in a bottle repeatedly with no success.
Now it’s the turn of a videogame to try and somehow adapt the events of the original film by the hands of studio Gun, whose previous work on Jason Vorhees escapades in game form has garnered some attention. Much like Friday the 13th, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre very faithfully recreates scenarios from the source material and offers a unique multiplayer experience, but it’s one that requires a lot more than most can stomach.
Playing as either a member of the Slaughter family or one of its victims, a match in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a tense game of cat and mouse as the maniacs attempt to recapture or kill the hapless people seemingly trapped in the out-of-the-way property somewhere in the Texan countryside.
For the lunatics that share the spotlight with horror movie icon Leatherface, there’s plenty of variety to throw around. Players can choose to play as either a deranged cook, an uncontrollable hitchhiker, a psychotic ladies’ man, and a girl who’s anything but a damsel in distress. Each provides a very different gameplay style with plenty of options to try and make sure no one escapes with their lives.
Also, obviously, the star of the show is also a playable character in the form of Leatherface. As expected, his is the most devastating of arsenals, but Gun has done a tremendous job of counter-balancing his strengths with plenty of weaknesses. For starters, his chainsaw, which gives the franchise its name, takes a while to rev up and requires careful timing in order to deal the most amount of damage. It’s also prone to locking up and taking a long time to recover.
Playing as Leatherface can also be surprisingly tactical since he can move silently when not revving up his saw, something that comes into play when trying to sneak onto victims that are not paying attention to their surroundings. It’s surprising to think that such a towering figure can be quiet when it wants to, but knowing of Leatherface’s suite of skills from watching the movie, it makes perfect sense that he can pounce on unsuspecting adversaries when needed.
As for the rest of the crew that compose the formidable opposition in his family, they can certainly be thorns in the opposition’s step thanks to their own singular suites of skills, my personal favorite being the hitchhiker, who can lay traps and is the fastests moving out of the bunch. Regardless of your choice, keep in mind the main mechanic at play for the lunatic family: feeding grandpa blood.
The former leader of the group is perhaps the most dangerous of all, a former serial killer who’s thirst for blood isn’t just a mere eccentricity, but a core aspect of playing as the opposition. By doing just that, you’ll help locate your victims much easier since the old man has acute awareness of his surroundings even though he can’t move. The more hemoglobin you give him, the better his senses become; you gain blood by either attacking victims or finding buckets littered throughout the property.
Also, keep in mind that when in this team, it’s not just a matter of finding and executing the opposition. You have to try and make their escape more difficult by keeping locks in check, as well as the generator that powers the electrified fences and other nicknacks all around your property. They work to keep you busy and not just going up against victims and are very much worth engaging with, since they help keep the other team’s options limited which in term corners them, making them much easier to catch.
By now you’re probably asking what it’s like playing as the victims since the killers do sound like a blast, am I right? Well, by joining the victimcs’ team, your mission is simple: to escape with your life. As mentioned before, there are a number of obstacles in your way that don’t just amount to the other players, but plenty of booby traps and elements that require standing around in one spot for a few tense seconds.
While you’re not completely helpless as a victim since you can try and fight back, engaging in a quick minigame with whoever is attacking you – which doesn’t work when a full blown chainsaw is coming at you, mind – it’s advisable to try and not engage with them, instead opting to avoid them at whatever the cost. For that, you’re able to hide and stealth around, but be mindful that some family members can track you.
Teaming up and trying to lure the fanatics away is the best course of action, but for that you’ll be required to be in constant communication with your team, which is probably the game’s most pressing issue: it’s a fun engagement when everyone is buying the concept and play their separate roles, but it just as easily falls apart when there’s none of that.
For your usual shooter, even when not talking to anyone, you can still get around to playing and succeeding, but for a game such as this, it’s imperative that players are on the same wavelength, a problem that also stems from previous attempts at bringing popular movie franchises to game form.
Previously, I talked about Sony’s attempt at doing just that with Predator: Hunting Grounds, and it’s where I’m drawing the most comparisons in regards to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre since I haven’t really played much of the other games in this sub-genre. Knowing people that have and listening in to their comments, however, it’s pretty much the same problem all throughout.
Then again, those games do still have their dedicated fanbases. Dead by Daylight has been around for years and is getting constant content updates to this day, so there’s hope for this one, even more so considering the level of quality and care that’s gone in making it as faithful as possible to the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre movie from the 1970s.
On the other hand, if you’re coming to this by your lonesome and haven’t got a dedicated group to play it with, be mindful of its limitations when it comes to your engagement with the base game. As for its value as a game, it’s hard to find its faults in terms of gameplay as it’s very enjoyable when a match is fired up and in full steam. Each of the stereotypes to choose from are fun and have their quirks that make mastering them a fair and worthy challenge.
What developer Gun has managed to deliver with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is an accomplishment, same as they previously have dealing with Friday the 13th. Then again, the game’s high level of commitment can be a drag, but if don’t mind suffering through the headaches of playing with randoms, or have a dedicated group to play with, it can be an enjoyable time. And for fans of the source material, it’s got lots of little details to notice and appreciate.