Remember that asymmetrical online multiplayer game where 4 survivors try to outrun a malicious and violent killer? You know, the one where the killer has certain powers and the survivors have to use perks to outwit and outrun their opponent? For once, I’m not even talking about Dead by Daylight. Oh no, instead we’re talking Friday the 13th, wait no, that’s not the one – The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
With Friday the 13th getting tied down into massively convoluted and devastating lawsuits, all support for the game had to end. Thankfully, the developers were not to be deterred, with their latest spin on the asymmetrical multiplayer now taking on a new face and franchise, just like Leatherface himself.
We were generously provided with an opportunity to try out the small slice of the game for the purposes of testing its stability and current build. Only the basic match formula was available, with many features either locked or presently unavailable. However, with the chance to try out the 3 available malicious hunters and the 4 survivors, it was a good chance to get a sense of how The Texas Chain Saw Massacre matches up to its contemporaries.
Rootin’, Tootin’, Chainsawin’
For this tech test, we were given the opportunity to play the farm map made famous from the film itself. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre breaks the mould of your Dead by Daylight’s and the dev’s previous Friday the 13th game by having 3 killers simultaneously chasing 4 unlucky, regular people.
The family (killers) are the expected Leatherface, Hitchhiker and Cook. Each has their own unique ability – Leatherface can cut various environmental objects in half (depriving the survivors of helpful escapes), Cook can padlock doors to make them that much more inescapable and Hitchhiker can lay down traps to snare oblivious escapees.
On the victims (survivors) side, each survivor has a unique ability too, however the tech demo didn’t offer any pop-up description or explanation of what they were so, I couldn’t really tell you I’m afraid. The full game plans to have a perk system (select up to 3 at any time for your playstyle) and attribute points, where you can improve your character’s Toughness, Endurance, Strength, Proficiency and Stealth.
There will also be cosmetics to equip for each avatar, so plenty of the usual bells and whistles we expect from games of this ilk. The biggest difference The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is loudly and profusely shouting for, is the game of cat and mouse that comes with having three player-controlled sadistic monsters, instead of just the one.
Escape Room… House… Farm?
Over the course of the couple dozen matches I played, I split my time equally between the family and the victims. Personally, I found playing the family to be much more fun, while being a victim feels quite disorientating, especially at the start of rounds.
The basic setup works quite well. Victims wake up in the basement of the farmhouse. Naturally, you probably don’t want to hang around (pun intended) on the pointy hooks you’re attached to. Victims must roam around the basement gathering tools and health items while evading the family. Eventually, should you survive the initial onslaught, you’ll need to escape the house and then the farm itself.
Of course, the family aren’t big fans of their prey making a great escape, so it’s their job to slice, chainsaw and blunt force trauma the ever-living hell out of the victims. As the match progresses, the family can accrue blood by attacking survivors or collecting it from buckets around the map. Doing so allows you to feed Grandpa, who will level up to five tiers of progress.
At each tier, the family becomes more powerful. Interval pulses will reveal the locations of survivors, their power cooldowns will be reduced and eventually, the victims become almost permanently visible. It creates a natural progression to each match, where the family are rushing to build up their power and the survivors are scrambling to gather resources and do tasks as quickly as their feeble legs will carry them.
Power The Gates, Open The Fences
As a victim, I found the starting few minutes of matches intense and punishing. The basement area is claustrophobic and condemning in equal measure. If you’re caught out in a corridor, you’re almost done for. More than once I was killed within the first minute, which while authentic to the movies, feels rather deflating. Survivors could do with a couple more tools for escape in the early stages to make this initial phase a little more balanced. While you can sprint away, a semi-decent killer can easily out-do you.
However, once you make it out of the basement and open up the environment of the farm, things become more interesting. To escape, victims need to interact with generators and valves in order to create an escape route. With a more open field and 4 of you roaming about, things balance out quite nicely, provided you’ve not been overwhelmed in the early stages.
The map itself feels well-designed and very intricate, with plenty of evading opportunities (wells falling into the basement, cracks in the wall etc), equipment to gather, traps to avoid and noise to snuff out. Noise is one of the biggest mechanics in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, as any rushed action, hitting a chiming set of bones or opening particular doors will trigger visual cues for the family to come rushing.
Animations are still relatively janky, which is expected as A) it’s a technical build, duh, and B) it’s par for the course with this genre. Slashing at victims is awkward as you need to be right on top of them to make hits connect. While the biggest foe I faced as both victim and family member was trying to close doors – the E button just wasn’t triggering the age-hold superpower of closing a door.
More Stable Than Leatherface’s Psyche
In what was almost a surreal, delusionary experience, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre ran pretty swimmingly considering its current build. As mentioned, animations are still relatively stilted and physics glitches can occur, but the recreation of the farmhouse is superbly authentic and captures the grainy, grungy feel of an old-school slasher.
The game ran smoothly for the most part, with a stable FPS and no crashing apparent. It should be noted however, the developers did disable some features like partying up in order to manage the load on the game’s infrastructure. Many features like perks are also currently disabled, so it’s difficult to gauge how balanced things will be on release.
As we know from Dead by Daylight, balancing online games like this can be an incredibly tough ask. The longevity of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre will live-and-die on the basis of its balance, perk diversity and having a variety of content to keep things fresh. On a foundational level though, the game is fun, very fun. Achieving my first daring escape as a victim was almost euphoric, while triggering a finisher on a particularly elusive victim feels so satisfying.
It’s more methodical and killer-present than Dead by Daylight or Friday the 13th, which I actually grew fond of. It hasn’t quite nailed that addictive “just one more game” just yet, however the slower pace and more grounded sense of dread as a victim is appealing.
Coming To A Slaughterhouse Near You
I was pleasantly surprised with Texas Chain Saw Massacre. It nails the sense of atmosphere of the movie, has a more methodical and slower pace which will appeal to more tactical players, plus it has a new twist on asymmetrical killer vs survivor gameplay. This initial slice of the game has provided a fantastic insight into the game that lies in store, and I think many will be excited for what’s to come.
With so many features still to be unveiled and more content to come, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is revving up red-hot ahead of its August 18th release date. It’ll be descending onto PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC in just a few months.
Buckets of blood will be split, many a Leatherface will have a tantrum and with multitudes of doors to slam into onrushing killer’s faces, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has become an enticing horror-themed multiplayer game that should be ascending your list of games to play this year. Will it displace Dead by Daylight for Miles, Josh and Kat? Well, for that we’ll just have to wait and see.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is releasing August 13th for PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox Series S|X, Xbox One and PC. You can pre-order now.
Developer: Sumo Digital
Publisher: Gun Interactive
Disclaimer: In order to complete this preview, we took part in the game’s technical test. For our full policy, please go here.
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