Considering the iconic status of Leatherface and the Swayer family in horror, it’s quite a surprise that prior to this game’s release, there has only ever been one game based on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and that was released in 1982.
Now, happily, fans of blood, guts, and chainsaws have a new game to sink their teeth into.
From Sumo Digital and Gun Interactive, the latter of which created 2017’s Friday the 13th: The Game, comes the asymmetrical survival horror game, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. A classy love-letter to the original movie, with high tension gameplay, and plenty of bloody mayhem.
Let’s get this out of the way right from the start, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a flawed game. One that can be downright brilliant but can be equally frustrating to play. Attempting to replicate the excellence of Friday the 13th: The Game hasn’t quite worked, but The Texas Chain Saw Massacre certainly has plenty of its own charm.
Players are split into teams. On one side, three members of the family and on the other, four victims. Which immediately creates a problem as the 4 versus 3 setup limits some groups in matchmaking. For now, the game is still being played by plenty of people, so finding a game is not an issue, but as the base drops, this is going to be bigger problem unless Gun Interactive change it up with a patch.
Should you end up on the side of the villains, featuring the iconic Leatherface, and the likes of the Hitchhiker, the Cook, and new characters, Sissy and Johnny, your job is to hunt and kill the victims. Each character comes with their own abilities, weapons, and skills, and all are finely balanced so that it’s a fair fight for the victims and no one character is better than the other.
For example, Leatherface might have a chainsaw and be able to cut through obstacles, but he is slow and unable to follow victims through small gaps and holes. The Hitchhiker is nippier, able to set traps, and chase down victims, but lacks strength. The Cook is slow, but has the ability to hear victims making noise, alerting both himself and other killers to their location.
In addition, members of the family can make use of Granddad, who, when fed blood, can periodically detect and reveal the location of victims. The more blood that is fed to him, the stronger he gets, and the more powerful his abilities become.
A good team of killers can make short work of their victims, provided they can find them across the sprawling map.
Being a victim, of course, brings its own challenges with the only goal being to survive and escape. Of course, with three members of the family roaming about that isn’t such an easy task so players will need to move quietly, hide a lot, and use their character’s abilities to aid the entire team.
Whereas teamwork isn’t the ‘be all and end all’ of playing as the family, teamwork is key to escaping the nightmarish situation if you’re a victim. To escape, players will need to complete mini tasks that, bit by bit, create a route away from the family. Each victim has their own skills and abilities with one being able to instantly pick locks, another able to stun members of the family temporarily, and another being able to detect the movements of the killers. Together, and using all the skills and abilities available, victims have a stronger chance of escaping with their life.
Although that aspect seems to be lost on many online players, as there is nothing more disheartening than seeing members of your team dash off in different directions, making as much noise as possible.
It’s fine balancing act that makes The Texas Chain Saw Massacre a fun and tense experience, and it is often that. Yet, new players will certainly find themselves overwhelmed at first. The game throws a ton of information at you, in an attempt to bring players up to speed, but it will take a few games before players start to fully get to grips with the experience.
An experience that is delightfully true to the horror of the original 1974 movie. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre nails the look, the sound, and the atmosphere. As a victim, there is nothing more terrifying than realising that you’ve startled a hen, stepped into one of the Hitchhiker’s traps, or you can hear the distant revving of a chainsaw. Likewise, there is nothing more exhilarating than chasing down a victim and delivering the final killing blow.
Regardless of the results of a match, all players will earn XP and be able to use this to improve the abilities of different characters, as well as change the cosmetic look of each one. Nothing ground-breaking here, but nothing that ruins the game experience either.
Unlike Friday the 13th: the Game though, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre lacks that ‘one more go’ feel. Partially because of the 4 versus 3 matchmaking, partially because each game can go on for quite a while, and partially because the ‘cat and mouse’ gameplay can get tiresome after a while.
The game is also prone to server crashes, at least on Xbox Series X and with a solid internet connection. It is incredibly frustrating to be fifteen-minutes into a match, only to realise the game is about to boot you out when you suddenly can’t interact with anything.
This, like other complaints can be improved upon with support from the developer further down the line. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is already a hell of a game, but it could be so much better, in time. Although that will massively depend on how long the player base stays with it.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Xbox Series X)
The Final Score - 7/10