Axe to the balls.

I’m going to be as up front as I possibly can: Friday the 13th is an atrocious, repulsively bad game. I haven’t played anything this gen that comes close to matching it’s pure, almost comic awfulness.

What’s the point, Jason? Look at her eyes. SHE’S ALREADY DEAD!

Developed by lllFonic and funded through Kickstarter, I had high hopes for Friday the 13th. I was a fan of the core concept behind Evolve, and the idea of taking those gameplay elements and reversing them (you are the hunted, not the hunter) in a campy horror scenario sounded like pure genius. But after spending 15 hours with this atrocity, I’m dumbfounded as to how anyone could have fucked it up this badly.

As of now, there’s no offline campaign (that is apparently hitting sometime this summer), so at the time of this review, this is a multiplayer-focused experience. If, of course, you can actually get in. The game was absolutely pummeled by awful server issues on launch day; two of my fifteen hours played were spent trying to get in. Some people couldn’t access the game for DAYS. Once fate decides your time has come, a group of players assume the role of camp counselors, and one player takes control of Jason. The counselors run, hide, and try (but almost never manage) to escape, and Jason tries to kill them.

That’s it. That’s the game.

And Jason WILL kill them, almost every single time. You see, these counselors are SUPPOSED to have different attributes to set them apart (strength, stealth, stamina etc) but the six or seven different counselors I played didn’t do anything to distinguish themselves. I couldn’t tell if Popular Girl was any less or more stealthy than Ascot Boy, or whether Nerdy Recluse didn’t have as much stamina as Douchey Jock. To me, they all played the same. Jason, however, is a different story. Jason gets more powerful the longer the match lasts, and can eventually tell what buildings the kids are in and warp instantly to any point on the map. You can attack him if you have a weapon, but it’s akin to attacking an armored knight with a kosher hot dog. This means being spotted by Jason at any time a few minutes after the match starts is tantamount to a death sentence, unless you find a decent hiding spot and hope he doesn’t stumble upon you.

I remain convinced every single playable counselor is actually a reanimated corpse. It would explain a LOT.

Case in point: after three matches of immediately getting killed, I hid in a closet at the edge of the map for an entire eight minutes as I flitted through Twitter, only to have Jason apparate out of nowhere, run a machete through the door, and vanish back into the night. An amazing gameplay experience. If Jason grabs you, it’s possible to button mash until you escape, but he’ll just pick you right back up and start the whole process over again. Playing as Jason is slightly better for a quick power fantasy, but everything is random, so your chances of actually playing as him aren’t good. In 15 hours I can count on one hand the amount of times I played as Voorhees.

Oh, and if you die early? Guess what: in one of the most baffling design choices ever, you have to sit around and watch. The. Entire. Rest. Of. The. Match. Play. Out. Unless you’re revived as Tommy Jarvis (who hilariously spawns with only ONE bullet for his rifle), which happened once in 15 hours. Aside from that, there’s no way to come back, no way to be placed back in matchmaking, and some of these matches go LONG. And if you leave early? You don’t get ANY of the experience you gained, which means no new abilities. Therefore, you’re stuck watching gripping and pulse-pounding scenes of players sloooooooooowly wandering aimlessly around the map, opening drawers, or hiding under a bed or in a tent while AFK. I can’t say I unlocked a single ability, because I’ll be damned if I’m sitting through twenty minutes of watching that.

Every character in this game is a doll come to horrifying life, with the eyes of a salmon in the seafood section at Kroger.

I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: visuals mean little next to great, compelling gameplay. Battlegrounds proves you don’t need cutting-edge visuals in order to make a game worthwhile and fun. But oh my God, guys. Friday the 13th is GALACTICALLY fugly and so glitchy that Bethesda can look at it and say “hey, at least Fallout 4 runs great!”. Muddy textures, characters made of wax and animated by the scarabs living inside them, Jason moonwalking towards you, it’s all here. I once hid in a closet only to have my face, hands, feet, and gut clipping out. Tried another closet. Same thing. Another closet. Over and over, until I decided to stay put. Jason of course found me, and after what I assume had to be a whole lot of blinking in disbelief, killed me. Thanks for that.

Characters run like they’re holding in massive turds. They move like animatronics at a Chuck-E Cheese. They will frequently ignore what you demand they do. And sometimes the game’s script itself will completely bug out and render the round even more unwinnable than before. One possible escape route is finding a fuse to fix a phone to call the police. And I did it! I found the fuse! I fixed the phone! I called the police! And I survived the five minutes it took them to arrive! I knew they were here because I heard the police siren right outside the building. So I ran out and…..nothing. Nada. The police just didn’t spawn. So myself and two other counselors just ran in slow, mournful circles until Jason found us and slaughtered us a moment later.

Young Eddie Vedder prepares to die.

After 15 hours of waiting, pleading, and begging for the game to be good, I gave up. No amount of patching will make this the Friday the 13th experience you want or we deserve. It is, hands-down, the absolute worst gaming experience I’ve had this entire generation AND last. At least Ride to Hell: Retribution was hilarious to watch and play. This is just awful on a level I cannot comprehend. Take your money and spend it on Rime, What Remains of Edith Finch, Horizon, Persona 5, Nier, Halo Wars 2, or any other deserving game made with a single modicum of care and pride.

Side effects of playing Friday the 13th include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Gum Disease
  • Herpes
  • Anal sores
  • Self-loathing
  • Giving up
  • Genital warts
  • Projectile diarrhea

You’ve been warned.