Friday the 13th: A Frightening Asymmetrical Must This Halloween

Nathan Hilditch

For years video game developers have gone to great lengths to provide players with a truly terrifying experience – but Friday the 13th does it right.

There are many tactics a developer can implore to scare the pants right off their target audience. Dark settings and eerie soundtracks are a must, coupled with the ever-reliable jump scares and you’ve got the makings of a horror game.

Over time, however, audiences become accustomed to such cheap tricks and they can no longer have the same effect. So developers push the envelope further with more terrifying creatures, horrific death scenes and other gruesome paraphernalia.

New gameplay formats emerged such as Until Dawn which plays out like an interactive horror film. Which brings us to our main point: a new match format that might just be the best horror mechanic today. Games like Friday the 13th and Dead By Daylight are asymmetrical multiplayer games, with one player holding all the cards.

Voorhees a Jolly Good Felon

Although Dead By Daylight did achieve a release date first, the Kickstarter project for Slasher Vol 1. – released as Friday the 13th – predates this.

For those unfamiliar with the Friday 13th franchise, it’s a supernatural, 80’s horror film series. There were later sequels outside of the 80’s but they are not really considered canon and it’s fine to stop at Jason Takes Manhattan – really, don’t watch it. The series revolves around an indestructible serial killer Jason Voorhees as he wages war with sexy teens everywhere. Those damned sexy teens!

The game is incredibly faithful to the series with seven Jason models available from various levels of decay in the series. The maps are exact recreations of the sets from the films, right down to the detail inside each cabin.

The gameplay consists of one player taking control of Jason and the other seven players controlling counselors. The counselors have to work together to attempt to escape the map via car, boat or police escort. Meanwhile, the unstoppable Jason player creeps ever forward in a bid to kill them all.

Frightening Features

Jason gains abilities as the game goes on, allowing him to sense players across the map and teleport. Distancing yourself from Jason is very difficult because if he picks up your trace, he can be on you in seconds. It is possible to kill Jason but it requires all players to cooperate, which isn’t easy to achieve. Also, gathering together in a large group makes players much easier to track – meaning the plan can quickly go awry.

Counselors have an internal fear meter, the more afraid they are the easier they are for Jason to track. Encounters with Jason, being alone in the dark and finding dead bodies will ramp up your fear meter.

Jason comes accompanied with his own orchestra, the traditional music will kick in when he is near.

Meaning you’ll know he’s nearby usually before you can see him, players must then decide to run or hide. Jason also has a few tricks up his sleeve like setting traps and smashing fuse boxes to create blackouts within the cabins.

Player’s Unknown

The introduction of a player-controlled villain makes the experience so much tenser than any AI ever could. For all the random features available today when programming AI’s they are for the most part, predictable. AI’s follow patterns which can be exploited by intelligent players, here it’s all dependent on the player’s skill level.

It’s possible that you are playing against a noob who will aimlessly search around and become stuck on furniture. Or you could be playing against a seasoned professional, who knows all the tricks and is simply waiting for his/her opportunity.

Sadistic Jason players can stalk their less experienced opposition, shutting lights out and ramping up the tension. If a player is sure they have you in their crosshairs, they can toy with the player just to add drama, particularly if you are the last player left alive.

You simply don’t know how Jason is going to react or how effective of a killer he is which induces paranoia. Once you hear the music, players know Jason is near but not whether or not he has eyes on them. He could be seconds behind your trail, or simply passing by. Running could be your only chance at survival or the very thing that alerts your presence to Jason and that indecision builds the fear.

You can often find yourself falling for the same pitfalls you always thought were ridiculous cliches in the movies. Running upstairs sometimes seems like a viable option until you end up cornering yourself before realizing your error.


If you haven’t already taken the plunge, Friday the 13th is a must-play for gamers this Halloween season. The added tension and simplicity of seeing Jason appear in front of you out of the darkness ranks it high up there with the top horror game experiences. The variety in players abilities adds to the replay value meaning you’ll still be having new experiences within the game next Halloween. This is your chance to put your skills to the test and discover if you could survive a horror film.

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