Some reviews would be better as flow diagrams (for the sake of the theme, let’s call this one a blood flow diagram).
Have you played Slayaway Camp? If yes, then Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle is a hard sell. Developers Blue Wizard Digital have taken their indie hit and liberally slopped the innards of Friday the 13th on top. But, let’s be honest, Slayaway Camp was already influenced by Friday the 13th, so it feels like innards on top of innards.
The graphics have had a chunky upgrade that makes each puzzle easier to read, and the maps are definitely different, but – having finished Slayaway Camp recently – there isn’t enough to separate the two games, and the deathly touch of fatigue did set in. There were 150+ levels here, on top of those from Slayaway Camp, and that’s a lot.
If you haven’t played Slayaway Camp, then it’s onto the next question: does the idea of a game entirely made up of sliding puzzles sound like your brand of hockey mask? If you’ve been playing games for a while you’ll know the kind of sliding puzzle I’m talking about: you’re in the middle of a grid and can slide in the cardinal directions until you hit an obstacle. Then you’re shunting up, down, left and right until you hit your target/s, in this case mostly chibi teens with necks just waiting to be ripped open like Pez dispensers.
You might want to think hard about your answer, because mine was an initial no, thank you very much, when I first saw the trailer for Slayaway Camp. I couldn’t imagine how it could stretch to a full game. But Blue Wizard Digital have the knack for taking the sliding puzzle and draining every last drop from it. Police and SWAT teams monitor their line of sight. Fires, water and bear traps take no prisoners, whether that’s Jason or his prey (make sure you let them each kill you once, as the game loves to reward you with a Pity Achievement or twenty). Your targets start behaving differently, running away and flipping lights. There’s even an ‘active reload’-style fatality at the end of each level: hit the sweet spot and you’ll get more bloodlust, which is the XP of Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle, and unlock even more weapons to jab into the various geeks, police and hipsters.
If your answer is no to sliding puzzles, then you know to steer clear. If the answer is yes, then follow the (blood) flow diagram down to the next question: are you a fan of the Jason or Friday the 13th movies?
If yes, then the game has your back. I’ll be honest and admit that my exposure to the movies is limited to the first, Jason X and the utterly terrible reboot, so I’m not an overwhelming fan, but I knew enough to spot the references. The music is great, aping the ki-ki-ki ma-ma-ma of the original (there’s the option to trigger it from the pause menu too). Jason’s mother is a fantastic sidekick, giving tips and motherly advice as a disembodied head. And the 150+ levels span some recognisable locations from the series, from Camp Crystal Lake to space. I’m sure that series veterans will spot more (deaths, weapons and characters may well be lifted directly, but I wasn’t sure enough to confidently put them in an official review). It’s all done with love for the source material.
If you’re not a fan of the films, well, it doesn’t really matter actually. Friday the 13th as a series of movies isn’t exactly hot on nuance, and doesn’t do much more than other slasher movies (oh, sue me), so it doesn’t feel like you’re missing out. The joys are pretty simple: the artists working on the game have created a bewildering number of death animations for your victims (unless you turn off the violence at the start), and you’ll have access to dozens of weapons to push into body cavities. My personal favourite was a schoolbook (and coming up with pithy one-liners around it), but you’ll find your own favourite. There’s a visceral joy to the whole thing that isn’t dependent on your love of the movies.
If you’ve got this far down the flowchart, I’d suggest that Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle is well worth a stab. It’s that particular brand of puzzler that will vex you for several goes, until a puzzle piece falls into place and you feel like a boss. Then, just as you feel untouchable, a new element is tossed into the mix. But there’s always a safety net, as Jason’s mum is there to offer prompts and skips. That’s unless you play the daily challenge, when the safety is removed and the challenge is set to mean.
I’d recommend short stints with it rather than a day-long blitz, as there’s undoubted opportunities for fatigue here, but Blue Wizard Digital know what they’re doing, and you can be reassured that a surprise is round the corner.
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle on Xbox One is a step up from Slayaway Camp, but only a single, shambling step. If you’ve not had the chance to play the original then this is the superior entry point, filled to bursting with sliding puzzles from a developer that’s mastered the craft. You’ll be leaving behind a body count that would make Jason (and his mum) proud.