Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle Reviews

AuthorReview
Titanium Dragon
104,896
Titanium Dragon
TSA Score for this game: 657
Posted on 15 April 18 at 09:03
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Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle is a ’80s horror movie themed puzzle game. You play as a serial killer, and your goal in each puzzle is to kill all of the civilians and then escape the level.

Er, wait a sec, haven’t I said this before?

This game was made by the makers of Slayaway Camp, and indeed, is the same game, albeit Friday the 13th themed instead of… okay, the other game was more or less Friday the 13th themed as well, but with the serial numbers sanded off and some references to other horror franchises as well.

There aren’t many puzzle games that make really effective use of theme and setting in their mechanics. Slayaway Camp is a major exception to this rule; the game mechanics rely entirely on the theme and setting, and as such, work really well and in an intuitive fashion. And Friday the 13th just uses those exact same mechanics.

The mechanics are very simple. Everyone – both you and the civilians – always move in straight lines on a square grid until they run into an obstacle of some sort. When you run into a living creature, you kill them. Your goal is to kill every civilian on the map, then escape through a pentagram, requiring you to maneuver your way around using the mechanics, and avoid getting stuck in a way that you can’t get to the rest of the civilians or can’t reach the exit. The ability to rewind a turn at any time is a welcome addition, meaning that even if you screw up, you can just go back – indeed, you can rewind back as far as you want, allowing you to undo any number of moves if you think better of what you’ve been doing. After playing this game, I feel like every similar turn-based puzzle game which doesn't have this feature is missing something critical.

But the game makes good use of its horror tropes. If a civilian is standing next to someone who is killed, they will flee in terror in a straight line away from the killed person. If you stand next to a civilian, they will run away in a straight line away from you. You can sneak up behind a cop and kill them, but if you move directly in front of a cop, they’ll kill you. SWAT team officers have longer range, with laser sights on their weapons, and attacking them from any direction will result in your death.

Mastering these leads to encountering further horror movie-themed obstacles. If one of your potential victims runs out of one of the stage exits, you lose as they go off to warn everyone else. If a cat dies (either directly by your hand or due to you scaring it into environmental hazards), it is game over – after all, Jason is a GOOD boy, he would never hurt animals! The decapitated head of his mother says so!

If you turn the power off, the civilians can’t see you and won’t react to you being near them or killing people around them, and you can sneak up behind the SWAT team officers and kill them. Electric fences can pose a danger to your movements when the power is on, but can also kill a hapless civilian who is scared into them. Holes in the ground, deep water, or fires can send you hurtling to your doom or burning to death, but you can scare civilians into them to kill them without laying a finger on them – but you have to make sure that those cats don’t get scared into those same hazards.

All of these things combine naturally in interesting ways, and as you go through the game you learn how to deal with all of the challenges and turn them to your advantage like the depraved serial killer you are.

There are just north of a hundred levels in the base game, broken up into eight chapters of 13 levels each. Given the eclectic themeing of the various Friday the 13th movies, these are pretty eclectic too, going from camp to New York City to a post-apocalyptic landscape to outer space – and really, most of these are repeats of environments from Slayaway Camp, though there are a few new ones.

So, is this game worth it? Well, considering it is free (well, free for the base game, anyway – there’s four DLC chapters that cost money), it is hard to really complain – the puzzle mechanics are solid, and the price certainly can’t get any better.

But I have to say that I thought that Slayaway Camp was a better game, which is ironic, considering that the two are basically the same game. The fundamental problem is that Slayaway Camp was very camp, and played it to the hilt, making the ridiculous gorefest kills much sillier, and playing the whole gore thing for laughs. Friday the 13th is silly, but not as silly, playing it straighter, and it suffers for it.

I did feel like Friday the 13th’s puzzles were often better presented than Slayaway Camp’s, with the solutions feeling less obtuse. However, at the same time, Friday the 13th was easier, especially given that it didn’t have the super hard bonus levels of the previous game, which kind of cuts both ways – in Slayaway Camp, I felt smarter for solving the puzzles, whereas in this, it sort of felt like I was going through the motions in a number of levels (though, admittedly, the fact that I’d played Slayaway Camp previously did teach me the various tricks you use in this). Slayaway Camp got pretty tough, and clocked in at a whopping 20 hours for me to 100% it, whereas this game clocked in at only about 3 hours and 40 minutes, and I can’t say I ever really got stuck on a puzzle. But that cuts both ways as well, because some of Slayaway Camp’s solutions just felt obtuse, whereas none of the levels in Friday the 13th felt that way.

Friday the 13th is the more accessible of the two games, and honestly, given that it is more or less the same game as Slayaway Camp, if you’re considering getting either, the fact that Friday the 13th is free kind of tips your hand that way. If you like puzzle games, and don’t mind the silly gore that this presents, this is worth your time, and if you really like this game, you can always grab Slayaway Camp (which is less than the price of even one of the DLCs for this game) after you beat it if you want more.
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