A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Friday the 13th: The Game, is a downloadable multiplayer based action game. Like the similarly named movies it's based on, it's definitely not intended for younger audiences. Rooted deeply in the general mythology and lore of those old slasher flicks, the survival-action game pits one person (who plays as Jason) against seven hopeful survivors (who play as camp counselors). There's very little story or nuance to the action here, as the game hinges and is centered on providing a cat-and-mouse, hunt-or-be-he-hunted dynamic in an online multiplayer game. The game's best aspects come to life largely by virtue of the spirit of collaboration and communication it indirectly encourages, which isn't to be discounted, but is clouded by the extreme amounts of violence and gore seen when characters are killed in grisly ways.
What's it about?
Although FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE GAME is loosely inspired by a number of films in the series, the basic premise remains the same: Teenagers preparing Camp Crystal Lake for re-opening try to survive and escape Jason, who drowned in the lake due to negligence of two staff members long ago. The game never directly tells you any of this, but heavily implies and assumes some level of familiarity with the series and basic plot. Instead, the focus is squarely on getting you into the action as fast as possible either to survive the killer or hunt the counselors round after round after round.
Is it any good?
While still plagued with early technical flaws, this violent multiplayer game is a fun, though shallow and very primal experience. It's heavily reminiscent of a playground game of Tag, where the player who is "it" (Jason), has to find the other players. Players who aren't Jason are expected to communicate with one another via voice chat, as forming loose alliances and collaborating on tactics is the only way to assure getting out alive. Each game begins the same way: Seven non-Jason players spot him coming over the horizon and promptly run away. Players split up with a goal of either repairing a car or boat or calling the police. If they're extremely lucky and tactical, they can also try to kill Jason before he successfully stalks and kills all of them. There are only three maps, which can make this repetitious act of survival and escape seem overly familiar and occasionally lacking in suspense, but most of the fun truly comes from frantically escaping tense interactions with Jason that occur at the most inopportune times. It's entertaining, horrifying, and incredibly exciting, and the only way to get out is to work together.
But as an online multiplayer game, it's not without some of the predictable hitches that occur in games like these. Even beyond the occasional server hiccups (on console and PC) are a lot of bugs: controls can be unresponsive, which is hard to forgive in such a strategic and twitchy game. There are also weird glitches like counselors randomly floating high above Jason into the ceilings, and a few other basic issues. It would be stretching it to say these bugs pop up frequently, but like Jason, again, they seem to occur at the absolute worst times. Still, by and large, the game is a tad basic but still able to provide plenty of fun for hours on end -- a lot of it banks on who you're playing with, because otherwise there isn't much variety on offer. But if you can gather together a group of friends that enjoy a scare, it could be worth taking a trip to Crystal Lake.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in games. While the game tries to recreate the nature of violent slasher films, is there any way the game could've been made without the same amount of gore? Does the violence have less of an impact because there's no storyline, so you don't have a connection with the characters you're playing?
Talk about survival against all odds. Have you ever been afraid for your life? Why did things work out okay in the end? What did you learn from the experience?
Why is empathy for others important? How do you define how and where to set limits for being kind to others, when it may also exhaust or harm you in some way in the process?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Gun Media
- Release date: May 26, 2017
- Genre: Survival Horror
- Topics: Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Suggestive Themes, Strong Language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.