The team behind this game has decided to take the iconic Slasher film of the 80’s and its titular character from Friday The 13th and leave the dark and gritty nature these games are based on and, instead, have gone in the complete opposite direction with a cartoonish art style and comedic approach. Let’s see if turning an iconic horror franchise into a colorful puzzle game can work here.
Release date: October 25th, 2018 (Nintendo Switch)
Approximate size: 324 MB
Genre: Horror Comedy, Puzzle Game
Developed by: Blue Wizard Digital
Published by: Blue Wizard Digital
Reviewed On Nintendo Switch; Also available on Mobile And PC.
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle doesn’t have a traditional story like most games, instead, it gives you a brief cutscene at the start of an episode and an ending cutscene at the end of a level. The latter is less of a plot device and more of a satisfying cherry on top of all the fantastical kills you’ve experienced up till that point. Much like the art style, the small plot elements take a comedic approach. It’s never over the top, nor the main focus or attention grabbing. The story is quick and a simple means to lightly explain why and how Jason has ended up where he has or a brief glimpse at the personalities of his soon to be victims.
One of my favorites that is seen early on is one that sees an old man fishing only to have him pulled down the hole of the frozen lake he’s on and a splatter of blood to overtake the screen. To some, this may seem out of place or unnecessary but I liked this form of storytelling. I’m a firm believer that, sometimes, less is more. For me, this simple scene shows that Jason has arrived at this area and that no one is safe. All of this explained without showing the character, a sense of subtlety often seen in the films the game is based on. Not to mention, most puzzle games don’t even have a story and I think the developers should be praised for putting a light story element within and one that respects the source material and can poke a little fun at it tongue and cheek style.
I like that the first episode explains the foundation of the story, where Jason comes from and the situation involving his mother. I also like that the menu system has story elements surrounding his mother. I’ll go into further detail later but it’s nice to know the game has a little more story than I expected. Reading how his mother compliments and worries about him, yet still encourages him to murder, displays her psychotic nature. Jason’s reply, how you respond and interact with these speech bubbles, gives a glimpse of his personality as the obedient and psychotic son he is. As I said, it isn’t much but its more than what other puzzle games offer and more than enough for this game. Fans of the original films will find a ton of callbacks and Easter eggs, whereas newcomers will find enough to explain why there are doing what they are tasked with and receive some cinematic kills that are satisfying.
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle is divided into three game modes: Play, Daily Death, and Murder Marathon. Play is the main focus of the game and where you’ll spend the majority of your time as it has the most content. The other two modes are novelties that offer players something unique but don’t have any real substance to them, but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. With that introduction out of the way, let’s dive in and start with the Play mode.
Play mode is broken up into several episodes with each episode having thirteen levels within them. These levels place you in an isometric view of the small map you are on, though you can centre it with the push of a button. Essentially, what you want to do is guide Jason to the NPCs spread across the map so that he can kill them. Simple enough, right? Well, sometimes not so. You may come to a conclusion on what the path ahead is, but once you initiate it, you may find yourself stuck and unable to get the next NPC. The worse is when you get them all but the final victim that spawns after all the available kills on screen have been completed. Don’t get me wrong, the game is not difficult in the slightest but there are some tricky situations to navigate that’ll have you thinking.
As you progress, the game will implement other ways to change up the formula other than sliding from point A to point B in a somewhat linear fashion. For example, you may have to approach an NPC from a certain direction to scare them into moving into another spot, or you may have to knock something down on the map to block where you slide to. Once you get to the final kill for that level, a mini-game commences in which you must press the action button, or tap in handheld mode, once the arrow falls into the shaded bar. This, if successful, will show you a pretty awesome and comedic cinematic kill. If you aren’t successful, the NPC survives and the level moves on. That’s my biggest issue with this game, the lack of any real consequences. If you make a mistake, you have a button available to undo it and if you make it to a point where you have to restart the level, you can also do that with the touch of a button. You can even have Jason’s mother give you the solution and show you step by step on how to complete the level. It’s nice that those are available, but the game isn’t at a level of difficulty where these mechanics are necessary. Also, you’re never penalized. There are no consequences for literally watching the game give you the solution to a level. That takes away any incentive to try and play the game in an attempt to get better. In all honesty, taking the little challenge it takes to complete the game away makes even playing meaningless as you could just watch the solution for every level and perform it. At the end of each level, you are given experience points and level up. Once you reach a new level, you unlock items.
Unlockables in this game are actually nice and offer a lot of fan service to players. You can unlock classic Jason costumes from the iconic films they were in and others. The main source of unlockables are weapons. The game offers some typical blunt force trauma inducing weapons such as bats and hockey sticks and some more deadly weapons like machetes and knives. Then, however, they allow you to unlock some rather unexpected tools unique to the killing trade. You can unlock a purse and skateboard, for example, to murder the NPCs. The broadsword is a personal favorite because, well, I am the last Highlander. Most, if not all, weapon types have their own unique killing animations but it’s even better when the game mixes it up. For example, seeing the purchase squash an NPC into a pool of blood or watching Jason drive the skateboard through the sternum, it’s all tremendously hilarious and the game’s art style really adds another layer of hilarity. That’s pretty much it in terms of the Play mode.
Levelling up only gives unlockables, no stats or anything like that but this game doesn’t need a mechanic like that. I, honestly, would have preferred if the game offered a little more gameplay into the gameplay and a little more challenging puzzles. The ones that are available that give you a set number of movements and the ones that place police NPCs to avoid are the better levels because of that added stress. However, all of that potential stress and challenge is disregarded because you can simply have the game show you how to do the puzzle.
The other game mode, Daily Death, will have you go into it daily to complete a level. These levels, after completed for a certain amount of days, will give you a unique skin for Jason. This would be a satisfying reward if this mode didn’t suffer from the same handholding and lack of consequences as the main Play mode. Unfortunately, anyone can go in and get the challenge done with no issue whatsoever and this causes it to lose any novelty it could have had.
Murder Marathon, the other mode, I liked a lot more. Remember how I mentioned a mini-game that follows for the final kill in Play mode? That’s what this mode is. It’s a challenge to see how many of those you can get in a row with the bar for success randomized and the weapons Jason uses, and the kill sequences, are all randomized as well. It’s a nice mode to kill time and there is some competitiveness to it as you set a score and try to beat it. The best part of this mode is the music that plays in the background, 80’s metal music of absolute awesomeness.
The Friday The 13th game found on Nintendo’s rival consoles and PC aims for a more realistic approach as it tries to recreate the iconic slasher films prominently featured in the 80’s. Killer Puzzle goes in the exact opposite direction, aiming for a more cartoonish graphical style that comes across as a colorfully vibrant Minecraft mixed with Roblox. It’s very surprising to play a Friday the 13th game with such vibrant and beautiful colors. Even writing that sentence was oddly weird yet satisfying as it perfectly captures my feelings on the game’s visuals. It’s a pretty game. The game also bounces around to different locales and each area presented with this graphical style is diverse and a wonderful visual to behold.
The game is vibrant, reminds me a little of Wind Waker with how bright and colorful it is. You have snowy levels with bright white snow and bonfires, you have a recreation of the prehistoric era with its palm trees and cloth wearing NPCs, and even areas from the films like the classic Crystal Lake make an appearance. The game even implements little effects that are commonplace in other games and their exclusion wouldn’t necessarily be noticed but the fact that they are in and you notice them, well, you can’t help but give developers praise. Some examples of this are the light shining through the window with the rays of light excellently rendered and the way the flame on the candle sways as you move about the map. Very nicely done.
Character models are simple designs with their blocky and clay-like designs, it’s a style that could be used for cartoons on television with how they are presented. For the most part, they all look the same but that’s neither a good or bad thing. In the end, they are fodder to be killed. Jason, despite being in this style, is accurately recreated and easily recognizable. Like the films, he comes across as menacing and towers over the other characters in an intimidating fashion. The game offers a ton of weapons to be used to kill the NPCs and each one is easily identifiable and works well in this art style. When it comes to kills, they are equally satisfying as they are beautiful and that’s a little disturbing to write, to be honest. The kills are over the top, dynamic, and have you wondering how the next one may look but they are also colorful with the rich red that spills and splatters from them. It all works and ties together well which catches you off guard at first because you aren’t really expecting it. Animations in this game are also comedic and cartoonish with how they are displayed and despite having a gore filter, it never gets too crazy or over the top.
Graphically, Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle is a really pretty and vibrant game with its colorful and simple art style. I was pleasantly surprised with what the developers have been able to craft and create with it and the should be praised and feel good about it. Not only that but their Friday the 13th game runs infinitely better than the other one found on other consoles.
When it comes to the game’s sound, I want to start with the death screams the NPCs wail when they are moments away from being slaughtered. I don’t know if its nostalgia or if it was intentional but they come across and sound so 80’s. You can hear the hopeless terror in the screams and it helps in giving you that thrill of satisfaction once you murder them. It never gets old. Even the scream some of them make when you get too close to them and they run away is nicely done. The sound effects of the kills themselves are satisfying and add another layer and enhance the kills. The light voice acting elements and sound effects are all great. Then there is the soundtrack in the Murder Marathon.
The music in this game mode is so, so good and was the main driving force behind me playing this extra game mode. It really is that good and I wish I owned the soundtrack. Its one of the few times I actually sought out the songs and truly found a benefit to the Now Playing feature in Pixel phones. With that being said, the audio choices in this game are excellent and add to the experience as a whole. No complaints and completely happy and satisfied with the choices made.
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle is a neat little game that I had a lot of fun with. The graphics and soundtrack are the highlights of this package, I absolutely adore these sections. The cartoon style was an interesting choice that left me uneasy in the beginning because it was hard to imagine a game with an emphasis on murdering, that’s based on an iconic horror movie franchise, looking like Minecraft and working. It works, it knocks it out of the park. The music that plays during Murder Marathon game mode almost steals the show. Even while writing this review I have the tunes stuck in my head.
The story is weak and there isn’t much of it, but this game doesn’t really need it. The cutscenes that are available are both funny and serve to set up the area you are in. That’s more than enough for a puzzle game. The puzzles and actual gameplay is where this game is weakest. It’s just too easy and the lack of any real failure, consequence, and challenge hurts this game tremendously. The steep price for what’s available also doesn’t help this game at all either. If you’re a die-hard fan of the Friday the 13th franchise, or not, this is a nice little game that is fun, but I would wait for a more reasonable price.