Friday the 13th: The Game (PS4)

Friday the 13th doesn’t work. Famed hatchet killer Jason Vorhees might grab a counselor who isn’t actually there. Items glitch out of place. Responsiveness is crummy. Blame latency in this online slasher, or maybe the design itself – Friday the 13th is a wreck.

And that’s how it should be. It’s more representative of the franchise, churned out into theaters through the ’80s and ’90s without much mind. Like the films, Friday the 13th: The Game is self-aware. It’s properly rotten at its core. Few slasher series make it this far without reaching such lows. Keeping the atmosphere of cheap-o studio cinema feels right.

It’s of little surprise to see what a barren, often puerile spectator sport this is. A mindlessly charging Jason wanders a campground, plucking 20-something co-eds up by their throats, smashing their heads in doorways, or impaling them on coat hooks. Each victim is identified only by their clothing; they quite literally wear their archetype. Hippies, valley girls, nerdy kids, whatever; each is doomed to die anyway.

Sure, it’s crude and nihilistic. Even playing as a “hero,” there’s a wish for them to die, if only for falling so hard into type. It’s not as if they speak anything other than mumbles to themselves. There’s a sense of finally answering that great audience quandary: Friday the 13th: The Game asks to prove you’re indeed smarter than typical teen prey.

There’s all manner of sexual exploitation. Some chosen costumes skimp on (all) outerwear. Watching the murder of a girl prancing around in panties isn’t a surprise. Jason’s kills enact the same gory, often gruesome routines seen on film. The violence isn’t better or more defensible than the sexualization either. The two fuse into the culture of slasher cinema, and thus, into the game.

Friday the 13th makes victims watch all of this too. On death, it’s possible to select voyeuristic cameras placed around the campground or view other players more directly. And more than likely, everyone is going to die, so watching this often pervy spectacle is by design. Like Friday the 13th movies, no one jumps in to extend their intellect. It’s about murder. There’s lots of that in Friday the 13th: The Game, even if it’s barely functioning.


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