It was 1980 when Sean Sexton Cunningham took the world by storm by producing and directing a movie which would become a timeless classic, ‘Friday the 13th,’ a sixty million dollar success, the first installment of a franchise which would have eleven movies and one spin-off and while critics were not so kind to Jason Voorhees, fans loved him and went on to become a horror icon.
In 2009 the franchise got a reboot which failed to impress both critics and fans, mainly because it was a general opinion that the movie played it too safe and was predictable to the core, with little new to add in contrast with what we have already seen in previous movies of the franchise.
Later the fans were fueled by expectations again when information about a newer reboot started circulating the Internet. Sadly even though Jason seems to be unbeatable in the movies, he may not be immune to the trials and tribulations of corporate Hollywood. The movie was supposed to come out in 2015 then got pushed back again and again with the movie finally set to be out on October 13th, 2017. Sadly this may not be the case, as my colleague Daniel Fennell, reports, the release date has been removed from the schedule of Paramount Pictures. But while Jason Voorhees is having a tough time in “movie realm.” Gaming is another story.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we are due to enjoy a game that promises to give us a full ‘Friday the 13th’ experience, with the support of Sean Sexton Cunningham himself. But this project is more than your run of the mill movie-based game, this is a project which is regarded as one of the best success stories in the gaming industry, because two years ago, what would become ‘Friday the 13th: The Game,’ was just a generic horror game idea.
It started in 2014 with a not so well-known developer called Gun Media Inc. These guys were working on a game called ‘Slasher Vol. 1: Summer Camp’ and it was presented as an asymmetric multiplayer horror game. The project had all the intention of being an homage to ‘Friday the 13th.’
The core idea of the game was the following: eight players, one of them controlling the killer and the remaining seven playing as counsellors, have to survive, while The Killer (yes that was the name “The Killer”) tries to take them down. All of this taking place in a camp called Camp Forrest Green. The counsellors could take a solo approach or try to work together to survive, while The Killer had more speed than all the other players and could use special abilities and take advantage of various weapons and the environment itself.
All the above sparked interest from the fans, but things would get even better. In October 2014. Gun Media Inc. released a teaser trailer for the game which not only mimicked the style of the Friday the 13th movies, but announced the involvement of Thomas Vincent Savini, the man who was in charge of makeup and design of the kills for the first and fourth Friday the 13th movies and he also worked on other well-known horror movies like Dawn of the Dead, but it does not end there. Harry Manfredini, composer of the official soundtrack for many of the Friday the 13th movies was announced as the one who would be in charge of composing the soundtrack for the game. Now we had two key people who had worked on Friday the 13th franchise on board for the project. And just a couple of months later Kane Warren Hodder joined, yes the man who has played Jason Voorhees in four of the movies was going to be the killer. At this point, the game was practically the Friday the 13th game, just not an official one yet.
All changed when Sean Sexton Cunningham took notice of the project in early 2015 and contacted Gun Media Inc. This set the start of months of meetings which ended up with Gun media Inc. getting Friday the 13th video game license. A crowdfunding campaign for the project was launched shortly after on both BackerKit and Kickstarter and fans were fueled with excitement. A game that had started just as an homage to Friday the 13th was now an official title of the franchise. As expected the campaign was a total success and not only that, it collected well passed the million dollar target taking into account both crowdfunding sites, thus making it one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns ever.
Thanks to the success of the campaign, it was announced that the game would not be a multiplayer-only experience anymore, it would also feature a single player mode which would allow players to relive some iconic scenarios of the movies. Longtime fans who had been following the project since its humble beginnings were pleased that the basic ideas of the game were still there.
At E3 2016, Gun Media Inc. previewed gameplay. It had all the recognisable elements of Slasher Vol. 1: Summer Camp. If the player controls Jason Voorhees, he has to kill all the counsellors. To that end our beloved slasher possesses a variety of special abilities, like a map of the camp; he can also select special points on the map to teleport directly to them, giving the player the possibility of surprising their victims by coming out of nowhere, just like Jason Voorhees does in the movies. He can also perform a lot of contextual killings, like crushing someone’s head against the wall or burn them alive using a fireplace. Counsellors are faster and have the ability to hide from Jason Voorhees, while also having access to weapons like wrenches, bear traps and noisemakers to trick the player controlling Jason Voorhees.
One month ago a beta was released allowing players to try all of the above first-hand. The reception was positive with players fully enjoying the gameplay and atmosphere with graphics powered by Unreal Engine 4. Being an online beta, there were connection problems with bugs and crashes reported by some players, but nothing as dramatic as some other games lately.
The developers have held two panels, one for PAX West on September and the most recent for PAX South at the end of January. Both lasted an hour and shared interesting information about the project. On the first Panel, the developers revealed a trailer that showcased many of the kills to expect for the game and also had Thomas Vincent Savini explaining the challenges of working in the game and how it is different from working in the movies in many ways. The most recent panel unveiled interesting gameplay additions like the use of vehicles and a new teleportation system for Jason Voorhees. It also touched on a subject very requested by the fans, the release date. Gun Media Inc. explained that they could not give a definitive answer yet because they are in the process of getting console certification approved for the game to be on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, elaborating on how it is a difficult process for a small team. So fans will have to wait a little more to have a release date set in stone.
It has been a fast but intense journey since Slasher Vol. 1: Summer Camp. And now we come closer and closer to experiencing a full Friday the 13th In game form. Confirmed platforms for release are Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Release date is set for sometime in 2017. We will have to wait until the game is out to be sure if expectations are delivered, but from what we have seen and judging by the feedback of players, the potential for success is more than evident.