We were intrigued by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s potential but unimpressed by its brief teaser when Gun Interactive first announced it last year. It’s one of our favorite horror movie series, in part because it still frightens us — after all, every good haunted home has a Leatherface at the end who follows you to the door, right? — but also because Texas serves as the setting. Horror, whether in video games or movies, frequently emphasizes gloomy surroundings, eerie ambiance, maybe inclement weather, and midnight.
In the 1970s, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre defied the norm. After playing the upcoming asymmetrical 3v4 multiplayer game with the same name from Gun Interactive, we were most pleased by how well the otherwise peaceful Texan farm serves as a setting for burglaries and murders.
The game Friday the 13th: The Game, which Gun Interactive, formerly Gun Media, produced for creator Illfonic, is probably its most well-known product. We were huge fans of Friday the 13th, and we played it every single night. Some of our finest gaming moments took place there, including when we turned up a Tiny Tim song so that campers could hear it through proximity chat as our Jason went in for the kill.
However, numerous IP rights concerns prevented that game from realizing its full potential, basically putting a halt to its development save for routine upkeep. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s rights holder approached Gun Interactive with this game idea and the wish to let the studio take the lead because they were huge fans of Friday the 13th: The Game and were aware of the problems it ran into.
Wes Keltner, the CEO of Gun, tells me, “They called us, which was a very humbling experience.” “While we were still working on Friday the Thirteenth, I got an email from the people who own the rights to [The Texas Chainsaw Massacre], who had played the game and adored it as well as our strategy. They thought, “These are the guys,” because they liked how Friday the 13th was given a sort of white glove approach. These are the people whose abilities we have the confidence to release our game.
According to Keltner, the franchise’s rights holders have been straightforward to collaborate during the production process and he interacts with them frequently. He claims that although rights holders may have a bad rap, this is not the case. They’ve been proactive in exploring ideas, open to new ones, and willing to let the team play in this world.
It’s been cool to work with them because “ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s a great idea, let’s go do it,'” says Keltner, hinting that there might even be some sort of connection between this game and previous and upcoming movies but declining to elaborate.
When the team met with them, according to Keltner, they determined the game should focus on the original 1974 movie. Since it is what the team excels at, it was always going to be an asymmetrical game; the question was how and how much they could play with the franchise. The team ultimately settled on a 3v4 structure in which three killers, one of whom was Leatherface, were tasked with killing four victims before they could escape the house of horrors that is this Texan farm.
Playing it felt amazing in a familiar sense despite its unusual setup in the already specialized world of asymmetrical horrors, which is currently dominated by games like Dead by Daylight. Gun designer Robert Fox III claims that players can customize each victim with cosmetics and items that significantly impact how they play. Each victim has a distinctive ability. This covers benefits, unlocking skills, and other things. Gamers will be able to determine which builds suit them best, he and Keltner claim, and this, along with the game’s personalization choices and distinctive 3v4 dynamic, is what they hope will keep players around for 1,000 hours.
During our hour with the game, we took on the role of Connie, who has the rechargeable power to open locked doors, allowing her to get around the straightforward but useful door unlock minigame. It was quite helpful to be able to break down a closed door, especially if Leatherface, the Cook Killer, or the Hitchhiker Murderer were among you.
All four victims were in the basement when the contest started. We enjoyed that Leatherface was present since it meant that anarchy broke out immediately in the round. You are unable to take your time planning how to help your crew escape. Your ears are probably hearing the roar of a chainsaw, and you need to leave the basement as soon as possible.
The first and second levels of the house provided their own set of difficulties, but Connie was swift enough to burst through locked doors, making that easy. The three playable killers can give the grandfather NPC blood to enhance his vision and hearing of potential victim locations throughout the house. He lives there. The Cook and Hitchhiker also roam there.
While we weren’t able to play with the Cook, we were able to interact directly with the Hitchhiker. When compared to Leatherface and his chainsaw, this lanky figure’s method of killing victims—slashing at them with a tiny knife—takes a lot longer. But killing is only part of his arsenal. To warn everyone in the house when a victim steps on a bone trap, he can install them all around the map. Both of us and our fellow murderers had a fantastic adrenaline boost as a victim stepped on our trap, prompting us to race to the scene in search of a victim to kill.
We were in charge of the show’s main character, Leatherface, in the third match we participated in. He is the polar opposite of agile, a prominent, hulking figure. That’s good because Leatherface can easily cut through some barriers, unlike victims who must squeeze through small crevices or fractures in a wall.
Because the chainsaw is so noisy and lets every victim know where you are when it’s on, we loved that we couldn’t spam it. Additionally, you have to play a brief and simple minigame to turn it on. To alert targets that we were on them, we enjoyed cranking the chainsaw, which produced a satisfying chainsaw roar. Pressing the left trigger to increase the chainsaw’s volume also made us giggle maniacally to ourselves. But the killing was the most pleasurable aspect of this guy. His chainsaw quickly dispatches victims, with lots of blood spurting from the incision point of my instrument.
These murders and escapes took place against the backdrop of a breathtaking Texas sunset on a lushly green farm with sunflowers, rusty sheds and barns, overgrown grass, and a horrifyingly grotesque mansion. Fans of the original 1974 movie will recognize the care and attention that went into creating the house, which featured hanging bodies, buckets of blood, trinkets, and more.
The majority of that movie is bright, sunny, pleasant, and full of picturesque landscapes, right? Keltner declares. “That gave us the freedom to experiment with beauty more and strike a balance between the macabre and certain aspects that were tranquil. There are times when you’re running for your life yet you may stop and think, “Damn, this place is beautiful.
And he is correct! The game appears fantastic. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre still has elements of the jank that Friday the 13th fans, if they’re anything like us, grew to love about the game, even though the graphics are a significant improvement. The team has worked diligently to create a game that isn’t a major triple-A hit. And it hasn’t fully been released. We could tell that the version we were playing was a preview. We hope the development team can further tweak the game to make animations more fluid, gore feels more realistic, and movement feels more seamless.