Friday the 13th has a lot in common with some of the sillier sequels in the film’s franchise: it’s great for a laugh, but not much else.
Friday The 13th is an online multiplayer game based on the long-running horror franchise about Jason Vorhees and the teenagers he murders. Up to seven players are counselors at a summer camp trying to hide from the 8th player, who plays as Jason. To escape, the counselors can repair phone lines to call the police, find fuel to start up a car or even repair a boat. They can also simply set up traps and hide in a closet while Jason stalks them. Jason, on the other hand, gains the supernatural powers he seems to have in the movies over the course of the match. As you play, you’ll unlock the ability to warp to any point in the map, or see other players through the walls.
For a time, the greatest challenge of Friday the 13th was connecting to the server. On Friday, while I could sometimes join matches, players would be regularly be kicked from the servers and matchmaking took ages. On Sunday, at least half the players I was attempting to start a private match with could not even log in to the game. “The main issue players are experience is the ‘Game Database Login Failure’. … We eventually had 75K concurrents the first day in and playing but the issue seemed to start spreading locking out users,” Chuck Brungardt from IllFonic said in a statement to Kotaku. “We are doing our best to identify and fix the problems and have brought in outside resources to help. ... We feel terrible for the issues as we know how long the backers and other fans have been waiting for this title.”
By Monday, this was resolved and I could finally join matches with ease. My boyfriend and I jumped in a party and were able to join games via quick play without any unreasonable delay.
Unfortunately, the game is very boring, but at least it’s boring in ways that made playing it with a friend very funny. As each minute of the match tediously ticked down, my boyfriend and I laughed with each other over Skype at just how inept the game makes you feel as either Jason or the counselors. This is all a matter of taste of course. Alex Bedder, Kotaku’s Social Media Editor, streamed this game last week and had a ton of fun with it.
In our first round, my boyfriend spawned as Jason and killed me almost immediately. I was in a cabin with another counselor and he let them get away. “How could you do that?” I asked him. “You only killed me, and the other counselor is right there.” Later, I found out why: Jason’s walk speed is unreasonably slow. If you aren’t pointing your melee attack in the correct direction, it takes forever for him to wind it up again.
Unfortunately, the combat is the only time it’s interesting to play as Jason. You’re large, you’re imposing, you have an axe and you’re here to kill teenagers—actually performing these murders is thrilling! But the space in between murders is just a slog. You’re pretty much just walking around the map, looking for counselors as you wait for your skills to unlock. Once they do, you’re nigh unstoppable. You’re able to see what buildings the counselors are in, invisibly sprint up to them, and even warp to literally any point on the map. It is possible to botch a kill, but in the scheme of things, you probably won’t. In the late game it is so easy to slaughter anyone that it becomes unfun. In the early game, saying you walk at a snail’s pace would be overly charitable.
Being a counselor is equally boring, but also just perplexing. There’s seven counselors, but it’s not clear if you’re supposed to be working together or not. Signs point to “no” because there’s no meaningful way to team up with each other or any goals that can be achieved as a team. The means of escape—boats, cars, and the police—can be done alone, and there’s no incentive to escape with other players. What you end up doing is going to every cabin in the map and opening drawers while ignoring other players, or getting killed by Jason.
And you will get killed if you meet Jason. It’s so disappointing how unbalanced these encounters are, because the rest of the game has really got nothing going on. None of the maps offer any variety in your goals as counselor, and if Jason knows where the car, boat or payphone is, you’re fucked. Counselors go down in three hits, and while they can run away, Jason’s invisible sprint and warping move has a very short cool down. He will catch up to you. It’s basically to your advantage to abandon the other counselors and just chill out on the far edges of the map while they all get killed. I watched a player hide under a bed for about seven minutes. They were the last counselor standing.
All this is good fodder for joking around with a buddy or even randos on voice chat, but not really what makes a good game. Sure, it was very enjoyable to spectate the last player standing completely fail to drive a car and crash on small rocks and tiny wooden fences, but it does not compel me to play again. At the end of the day, Friday the 13th is probably best enjoyed by watching someone else play, if enjoyed at all. If you watch one of the many streamers checking this game out, you’ll get the best of both worlds: you won’t have to play it, and you can get a good laugh at its corniness.