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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Written by Nathan Carter on 8/30/2023 for PS5  
More On: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

When The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was first announced, I was a little apprehensive. I wondered how you could turn the original 1974 movie into an asymmetrical horror game. It worked for really well Gun's previous game Friday the 13th, and after playing Texas Chain Saw a bunch it absolutely works here as well. I'd argue this works even better than Friday the 13th. It does have some issues, but this is probably the most fun I have had with a horror game like this in years. 

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre actually has a story, and the game acts as a prequel to the original movie. A young college girl named Maria Flores has gone missing. Her sister Ana, in a desperate attempt to find her, has been given the runaround by police so she starts taking matters into her own hands. Unfortunately for Ana and her group of friends, they see things they shouldn't have seen and end up in the clutches of the Sawyer family, a group of cannibals who aren't about to let any of them escape with their lives. 

If you played games like Friday the 13th or Dead by Daylight, you will be familiar with how these games work. Texas Chainsaw Massacre is an asymmetrical horror game, but this time there is a twist. Instead of it being a group of survivors against a single killer, Texas Chain Saw is four survivors called victims vs three killers or members of "The Family". You would think this would make the matches incredibly one sided, but this isn't the case. The three maps in the game are pretty huge to the point where each member of the family is going to have to keep an eye on all areas of the map and patrol regularly or else the victims will easily escape.

There are three maps currently in the game all based on locations from the original 1974 movie, and if there is one thing these developers are great at is attention to detail. Much like the Friday the 13th game, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre perfectly recreates the atmosphere and tone of the original movie. The maps themselves are almost easter eggs as you will see locations from the movie perfectly recreated in the game. Entering the family house and seeing that doorway with the red wall and cow skulls is such a treat, and each match ends with the visual of Leatherface swinging his chainsaw around like at the end of the movie. 

The goal for each game is simple. Escape as the victims or hunt down and kill all victims as the family. There are four different ways the victims can escape each map. First off, there are two gated exits on opposite ends of the map. Each of them have electric grids that must be turned off and a gate to be unlocked in order to escape. One of the electric grids is turned off via a generator and the other with a car battery that has to be turned off. The second way to escape is to find a valve and open a pressure gate. The final way includes finding a fuse and then placing it in a fuse box to open an exit in the basement.

I really like how there is a variety in objectives to escape. Compared to something like Dead by Daylight which only has one objective, a game of Texas Chainsaw Massacre isn't over as soon as someone dies early. It's more than possible for one person if they are sneaky enough, to be able to escape on their own. This is one of the strengths of this game. With multiple objectives and ways to escape, it keeps the game fresh. The family also has an objective of their own besides for hunting down and killing victims. When attacking victims they gain blood. Blood can also be gained by picking it up at blood buckets placed throughout the map. They can use this blood to feed Grandpa. He starts at level 0 and with each level the family gains an ability and Grandpa can mark survivors if they move around while he shouts. At level 5 he will mark survivors no matter what, so it's pretty much game over for a victim if he gets to that level. 

Both the survivors and family members each come with their own abilities that can be used in the match. The Cook can put padlocks on doors, forcing the victims to have to open two sets of locks to open the door along with being able to hear and tag victims making noise. The Hitchhiker can put up to three traps down at various areas around the map. Sissy can poison items and areas to disorient the victims and make them visible to the entire family, and Johnny can track a survivors footprints to easily hunt them down. Last but certainly not least is Leatherface, who starts off in the basement with the survivors at the beginning of the match. Leatherface has a lot of weaknesses compared to the victims. He can't go through crawl spaces or narrow holes in walls. He can however take down doors, and destroy crawl spaces to block off escape routes for victims. By revving the chainsaw and timing it right, you can pull off an instant kill. 

The victims also have their own unique skills. Leland has the ability to shoulder tackle family members and knock them down, Ana can take additional punishment, Julie gets extra stamina, and Sonny has the ability to detect when people are in the area - whether they are friends or foes. Probably the most over powered character in the game right now is Connie. Her special ability allows her to instantly unlock a door instead of having to go through lock picking it. What makes this ability so ridiculously over powered is that if she saves it, she can use this to instantly unlock one of the gates like the generator or car battery gate, allowing her and her teammates to quickly escape without any resistance. This can get especially annoying when you are chasing down a survivor, they run to the exit gate which is locked, but she can just instantly open the gate. 

There is also a progression system in the game. Each victim and family member can use three different perks in the match. The perks are acquired via the leveling system in the game. Each time you earn a level you earn skill points. These skill points can be used on the skill tree to purchase skills and attribute points. Attribute points can be spent upgrading your characters stats like toughness, stealth, or on the family side, savagery and endurance. Some of the perks in the game include being able to spot important doors, boosting your stats, or having family members be highlighted for the entire team if they are within a certain distance of you. Some of the perks the family members have include highlighting victims for the entire team if they take a hit, boosts of stamina or damage if they carry full blood vials, or increasing base stats.

I like the idea of the progression system, but you better not have a fulltime job because you are going to be grinding for quite some time if you want to max out each character. Each time you level up you gain around six skill points and you are going to need hundreds of these things to max out each character. There seems to be something weird going on though where the post match screen displaying your XP gains seems to be bugged. You will be at level 20 and then it shows you jumping up to level 21, then you are back to level 19 when you get back to the main menu. It seems like the XP you are shown on the main menu is the true amount of XP you have, so uhhh...just ignore the post game screen until it gets fixed. One feature that I find really cool is that there are unlockables in the game which include behind the scenes photos of the original 1974 movie, concept art for the game, and there are even videos showing the developers motion capturing some of the executions in the game.

Unlike some of these kinds of horror games that I have played, I think in this one communication is absolutely required. This game is basically a competitive team-based game. It is so important for both the victims and family to communicate over the mics to achieve victory. So many games I have tried telling my teammates that the generator is turned off, or I will be playing as the Cook and I use my ability to spot victims and call out to the team where they are, and no one is listening or responding on the mics. The same goes for the victim side. I have escaped many times when I was the last person standing because I had teammates saying "the fusebox is on" so I knew to go turn it on and escape. Then there are many times when I will try to call out to them where family members or objectives are and no one responds and we all die. Not to mention constantly screaming at my teammates to please, for the love of God, close and lock the doors after you go through them and to please feed Grandpa when you can. So your enjoyment of this game and what you get out of it could depend on if you use a mic or not. 

I think the game is actually pretty balanced. After playing for 60 hours, I have discovered a meta starting to form, which is the rush meta. I have seen games at an ever increasing rate in which the game literally ends in about 2 minutes. It seems the survivors, if they are grouped together in a party will get a door open ASAP, rush to get the fuse, get the fuse box open, open the basement door, and be out of the map before the Family even realizes what happened. Of course, just like Dead by Daylight and Friday the 13th, the bully squads are out in full force so be prepared to deal with premade squads that are just playing so they can troll and be toxic, teabagging and harassing the killers and delaying the game as much as possibly by standing at the exit gates refusing to leave the match, basically holding the game hostage. 

On the technical side I found the game does play and run pretty well, but it does have a number of bugs that really need to be ironed out. Matchmaking takes forever. It takes a while to find a lobby and when you do, the timer starts at 3 minutes before the game starts. Because there always has to be that one person that never readies up, this usually causes people to leave the lobby. Also - and this is understandable considering he's the main villain - but a match won't start unless Leatherface is on the family team. There have been plenty of times where games won't start because one person just refuses to switch to Leatherface, which then of course leads to people leaving the lobby and more waiting to play. 

In terms of the matches themselves, I have gotten stuck in the geometry of the map a number of times, and for whatever reason sometimes the game will just boot back to the main menu with a "network error" message. This isn't a glitch but there is also one glaring oversight on the Gas Station map. There is a door in the back with no lock that leads to the main road where victims can escape. The community has since dubbed this the "secret exit" because it pretty much allows victims to completely bypass any of the normal means of escape. They don't need to turn off a battery or find a fuse box, they can just rush to the door, unlock it and escape. This map basically requires having both Hitchhiker and The Cook on the team to lock down that escape, which means not having valuable resources for the rest of the map. There also seems to be a major hacking issue going on with the PC version of the game, where other players can gain control of everyone in the match. Even with cross play I haven't experienced that playing with PC players but it is something to take note of. 

Overall I have been having a blast with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and I am excited to see what content releases in the future. The game does have some small issues but with a few balance patches I think this game could be the perfect asymmetrical horror game.  

Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a ton of fun, and though it has some issues it has been pretty addicting to play. This is one of those games though that you will get the most out of it if you are playing with friends and using mics, as teamwork is a must. Some great new game dynamics elevate this one above the fray, making it the best asymmetrical horror game in recent memory.

Rating: 8.5 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember. My earliest gaming memories come from playing Lady Bug and Snafu on my fathers Colecovision and Intellivision respectively.  It wasnt until I was 6 years old and played a Mortal Kombat 2 arcade machine in a game room at a hotel that I truly fell in love with a videogame. I have so many wonderful memories of my dad and I playing Mortal Kombat on SNES every night after dinner. Throughout my childhood NES, SNES, Gameboy and Sega Genesis were the loves of my life. Here I am 35 years old and still as much in love with videogames as I ever was. 

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