Friday the 13th is one of the most recognizable franchises in horror. There have been movies, action figures, comics, a television series, and of course, video games. Much like the movies, all have been met with varying degrees of success.
The video games have been particularly unimpressive. The 1985 computer game seemed to have no connection to the movie, the Nintendo Entertainment System version is considered by some to be one of the worst video games ever, while the multiplayer game received a decidedly mixed reaction. Then there is Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle.
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle is exactly that: a puzzle game inspired by the Jason Voorhees horror movies. The player controls Jason and attempts to dispose of campers, counselors, geeks, jocks, and final girls on an isometric grid. While attempting to solve the puzzles, players must contend with obstacles that makes things a bit more difficult than they initially seem.
Killer Puzzle has a style that is not unique in general but is definitely unique to the world of Friday the 13th. Oversized heads are placed on bodies that are a bit too small in a style similar to South Park. The game is gory (the player has a choice to play a censored PG rated version), but the numerous victims’ screams are more silly than scary.
It sounds like it would hurt the game, but it actually adds to the experience. Killer Puzzle puts a new spin on the franchise that is as refreshing as it is cute. This is best demonstrated in the game’s cutscenes. The killings are extra brutal and would fit perfectly in any Friday the 13th movie but also have an almost endearing look to them.
The game adds other stylistic choices that add to the charm. It plays like a television show and offers different weapons and versions of Jason. As an added bonus, after finishing an entire episode (each episode is comprised of 13 scenes), you have the option of playing as a maskless Jason.
The gameplay is simple enough. The player swipes in the direction they would like Jason to go and everyone’s favorite mama’s boy will move that way until he comes across an obstacle. This type of game lives or dies by its difficulty and this is where Killer Puzzle excels. The puzzles start easy then slowly and subtly become more difficult as stronger enemies and more hazards are added. This gradual learning curve makes the game fun and addictive.
The puzzles are also the game’s weakness. Killer Puzzle changes up its scenery (there are some great callbacks that fans of the series will appreciate) but much like the movies, it becomes more of the same. While it never becomes boring, the sense of sameness does come surprisingly quickly. (The game adds a Daily Death puzzle to break the monotony that helps, however it is just one maze.)
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle is a creative and engrossing game that challenges players without overwhelming them. It has great level design and a look that catches the eye. This is a Friday the 13th game that is not just for fans of the franchise.