When Gun Interactive revealed The Texas Chain Saw Massacre last year, I was blown away by a short teaser but excited about its potential. It’s one of my favorite horror movie franchises, in part because of how much it scares me – every good haunted house has a skin-face at the end that chases you out, right? – but also because of her background: Texas. Horror, be it movies or games, usually draws attention to the gloomy atmosphere, the frightening atmosphere, perhaps some bad weather, and the night. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre bucked this trend in the 1970s. After practicing on the upcoming Gun Interactive 3v4 asymmetric multiplayer game of the same name, I was very impressed with how well the quiet Texas farm served as a playground for escape attempts and murders.
Gun Interactive, formerly known as Gun Media, is probably best known for Friday the 13th: The Game, published by developer Illfonic. I loved Friday the 13th. It became a game night for my friends and I. It’s home to some of my favorite gaming memories, like playing a Tiny Tim song for campers to hear through close chatting where Jason Lee got into the murder. However, some intellectual property rights issues have hindered this game from reaching its full potential, effectively ending its development except for regular maintenance. The rights holder of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was a big fan of Friday the 13th: The Game and was aware of the problems it had because they approached Gun Interactive with the idea for this game and the desire to let the studio lead the charge.
“They called us, and it was a very humbling experience,” Gun CEO Wes Keltner told me. “We are still with Friday the 13th, and I received an email from the rights holders [The Texas Chain Saw Massacre], and they played this game and loved it and loved our style. They liked that it was kind of a white glove therapy for Friday the 13th, and they thought, “These are the guys. These are the guys we trust wanting to bring our game to market.”
Keltner told me that he talks to the rights holders of this franchise daily and that it was easy to work with them on development. He says rights holders sometimes get a bad reputation, but that’s not the case here. They were open to ideas, advanced in pursuing them, and open to letting the team play with this world.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time, I’m like, ‘Oh my God, that’s a great idea, let’s go and do it,'” Keltner says, “so it was really nice working with it,” kind of a connection between this game and past and future movies, and not telling me anything else.
Keltner says the team met with them and decided the game should be honed into the original 1974 movie. It was always going to be an asymmetric game of the jump — that’s what the team does best, after all — but in what way and how far they could play with the franchise was a question. . The team eventually reached a 3v4 formula that tasked four victims with escaping the house of terror that is Texas ranch and three killers, one of whom was Leatherface, to kill before that happened.
It’s a unique setting in the already niche world of uneven horror currently dominated by the likes of Dead by Daylight, but its gameplay was fantastic in a familiar way. Each victim has a unique ability, and Gun designer Robert Fox III says players can customize each with cosmetics and items that directly affect their gameplay. This includes unlockable skills and perks, and more. He and Keltner say players will be able to discover different builds that suit them best, and that, along with the game’s customization options and unique 3v4 dynamic, is what they hope will keep players around for 1,000 hours.
In my hour with the game, I played Connie, who has a rechargeable ability to break through locked doors, allowing her to get past the simple but effective door opening game. Smashing the locked door was incredibly useful, especially when it was Leatherface, Chef Killer, or Hitchhiker’s killer.
When the match started, the four victims were in the bunker. It was Leatherface, too, which I loved because it meant the tour immediately started in chaos. You can’t get around the best way to escape with your team. You likely have a saw in your ears, and you need to get out of the cellar ASAP. Connie’s ability to quickly collapse through closed doors made doing so easy, but the first and second floors of the house present their own set of challenges. This is where the grandfather NPC resides, and the three playable assassins can feed him with blood to improve his ability to see and hear where the victims are in the house. It’s also where Cook and Hitchhiker hang out.
I couldn’t play with the cook, but I worked with the Hitchhiker. This slender character kills victims with a small knife, and killing them takes much longer than Leatherface and his saw. Murder is only half of his range, though. He can place bone traps around the map, which alert everyone in the house when a victim has trampled on them. Hearing and seeing a victim step on my trap gave me a thrilling adrenaline rush to my fellow killers and I as we all rushed to his spot, hoping to find a murder victim.
In her third match, she dominated the star of the show, Leatherface. He’s a huge, rocky, loud character and the complete opposite of graceful. This is fine, because where victims can crawl through cracks in the wall or narrow gaps, Leatherface can penetrate specific barriers. I liked that I couldn’t spam the chainsaw; out loud, and every victim will know where you are when you are. In addition, its operation requires that you play a quick and easy mini-game. It was fun to use that crank and subsequent saw roar to let the victims know I was on top of them, and pressing the left trigger to choke her for a higher effect made me laugh out loud to myself. The most satisfying part of this character was the murder. His saw rips victims quickly, with plenty of blood flowing from the point of my weapon slit.
All of these murders and escapes took place against the backdrop of a gorgeous Texas sunset on a luscious green farm filled with sunflowers, old barns and barns, overgrown grass, and a terrifyingly terrifying house. Fans of the 1974 original movie will learn how much love and detail went into the house, complete with hanging bodies, buckets of blood, talent, and more.
“If you watch this movie, the vast majority of it [is] Shining, sunshine, happy, beautiful vistas, right? Keltner says.[That] It allowed us to play more with beauty and find the balance between terrifying things and some things that were quiet. There are moments where, yes, you’re running for your life, but you can stop at like, “Dang, it’s beautiful here.”
And he’s right! The game looks great. It’s a huge step up from Friday the 13th’s visuals, but The Texas Chain Saw Massacre still retains some of the vibes that former fans, if like me, loved about the game. It’s not a huge three-player game, but the team lovingly made it. It also hasn’t quite come out yet. I can tell that what I played was a preview design. I hope the team can massage the game more to make the movement smoother, make it more realistic, and the animations smoother.
I’m excited to see what the team can hone further between now and release in 2023, and can’t wait to learn more about the skins, how Gun will integrate other Texas Chain Saw Massacre movies into the game, other maps, and more. If what I’ve seen so far is any indication, I think my friends and I are going to have a new hangout next year.
#Texas #Chain #Massacre #Preview #bloodier #Texas #Game #Informer