When Gun Interactive unveiled The Texas Chain Saw Massacre last year, I was disappointed with its short trailer, but excited about its potential. This is one of my favorite horror series, partly because of how much it scares me – every good haunted house has Leatherface at the end chasing you out, right? – but also because of the background: Texas. Be it movies or games, horror usually draws attention to a gloomy atmosphere, spooky atmosphere, possibly bad weather and night. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre defied this trend in the 1970s. After seeing the upcoming 3v4 Gun Interactive asymmetric multiplayer game of the same name, I’m in awe of how a very peaceful Texas farm works as a playground for escape attempts and murders.
Gun Interactive, formerly Gun Media, is possibly best known for Friday the 13th: The Game, which it released for developer Illfonic. I loved Friday the 13th; it became an evening game for my friends and me. It’s home to some of my favorite gaming memories, such as turning on a Tiny Tim song for campers to hear via proximity chat when my Jason went to kill. However, some intellectual property rights issues prevented the game from reaching its full potential, effectively ending its development, except for regular maintenance. The owner of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre rights was huge fans of Friday the 13th: The Game and was aware of the issues they encountered as they turned to Gun Interactive with this game idea and their willingness to get the studio to lead the way.
“They contacted us which was a very humiliating experience,” Gun Wes Keltner CEO tells me. “We were still on Friday the 13th and got an email from rights holders [The Texas Chain Saw Massacre]and they played the game and loved it and loved our approach. They liked that until Friday the 13th it was something like a white glove, and they thought, “These are the guys. These are the ones we trust to bring our game to market.
Keltner tells me that he talks to the rights holders of this series on a daily basis and that it was easy to work with them on development. He says rights holders sometimes have a bad reputation, but this is not the case here. They were open to ideas, progress in their implementation and open to the band playing with this world.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time is like,” Oh my God, that’s a great idea, let’s go do it, “so it was really, really fun to work with, says Keltner, teasing that there might even be some kind of connection between this game and the past. and future movies, let alone anything else.
Keltner says the team met with them and decided that the game should be refined on the original 1974 film. It was always meant to be an asymmetric jump game – that’s what the team does best, after all – but the question was how and to what extent they could play with the franchise. The team eventually landed in a 3v4 format which commissioned four victims to escape the horror house that this Texas farm is and three murderers, one of whom is Leatherface, kill them before that happens.
It’s a unique setup in an already niche realm of asymmetric horror movies currently dominated by Dead by Daylight, but playing it was great in the known way. Each victim has a unique ability, and weapon designer Robert Fox III says players can customize each one with cosmetics and things that directly affect the way they play. This includes skills, perks, and more that can be unlocked. He and Keltner say players will be able to find a variety of builds that work best for them, and this, coupled with the game’s customization options and unique 3v4 dynamics, is what they hope to keep players going for 1000 hours.
During my hour with the game, I played as Connie, who has a rechargeable ability to break through locked doors, which allows her to bypass a simple but effective mini-game to unlock the door. Breaking down a locked door was extremely useful, especially when Leatherface, the killer of the cook, or the killer of the Hitchhiker was in their company.
When the match began, all four victims were in the basement. Leatherface was there too, which I liked very much because it meant the round started into chaos right away. You can’t go around deciding how best to get away with your team. A chainsaw is probably roaring in your ears and you need to get out of the basement as quickly as possible. Connie’s ability to break through closed doors quickly made it easy, but the first and second floors of the house provided their own set of challenges. This is where the NPC’s grandfather resides, and the three playable killers can feed him blood to improve his ability to see and hear where the victims may be in the house. There are also a cook and a hitchhiker.
I didn’t have a chance to play with the cook, but I had direct contact with the Hitchhiker. This skinny figure cuts victims with a small knife, and it takes much longer to kill them than Leatherface and his chainsaw. But killing is only half his skill. He can place dice traps on the map that warn everyone in the house when a victim steps on it. Hearing and seeing the victim enter my trap sent an exciting rush of adrenaline to my fellow killers and me as we all rushed to his place, hoping to find a victim to kill.
In the third game I was in, I was in control of the show’s star, Leatherface. He is a massive boulder character that is loud and the exact opposite of agility. That’s okay though, because where victims can crawl through cracks in the wall or tight gaps, Leatherface can break through specific barriers. I liked not being able to spam the chainsaw; it’s loud and every victim will know where you are when it’s on. Additionally, turning it on requires a quick and easy mini-game. It was fun to use this crank and the subsequent roar of the chainsaw to let victims know I was on them, and squeezing the left trigger to squeeze it for a louder effect made me laugh out loud to myself. The most satisfying part of this character, however, was the killings. His chainsaw takes victims quickly, and a lot of blood spurts from the site where my gun was cut.
All these killings and escapes took place against the backdrop of a glorious Texas sunset on a lush green farm full of sunflowers, old barns and sheds, overgrown grass and a terrifyingly macabre house. Fans of the original 1974 movie will recognize just how much love and detail has been put into the home, complete with hanging bodies, buckets of blood, knick-knacks and more.
“If you watch this movie, most of it [is] bright, sunny, happy, beautiful views, right? ” says Keltner. “[That] it allowed us to play with the beauty a little and find a balance between the macabre and certain things that were peaceful. There are times when, yes, you run for your life, but you can stop like, “Damn, it’s beautiful here.”
And he is right! The game looks great. This is a big step up from the visuals on Friday the 13th, but The Texas Chainsaw Massacre still retains some of the joke that fans of the former, if they’re like me, love about the game. It’s not a massive triple-A game, but the team made it with love. And that’s not quite ready yet either. I could tell I was playing the pre-release version. Hopefully the team will be able to massage the game more to make the movement smoother, more realistic and the animations smoother.
I’m excited to see what the team is able to further refine from now until the 2023 release, and can’t wait to learn more about the skins as Gun brings other Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies, other maps, and more to the game. more. However, if what I’ve seen so far is any clue, I think my friends and I will have a new hangout game next year.