Jason is one of the most iconic villains in film. He’s instantly recognizable with his machete and hockey mask. The Friday the 13th franchise is known for campy humor, brutal kills, and, of course, Jason. This is a property that seems perfect for the gaming industry. Unfortunately, the silent killer has yet to have a fantastic outing. The NES Friday the 13th is an atrocious mess that doesn’t capitalize on its ambitious (for the time) scope. The year 2016’s Friday the 13th: The Game masterfully captures the atmosphere and tension of the franchise, but bugs can occasionally ruin the experience. So how does Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle stand among the rest? Let’s dive in and find out.
Puzzles and humor and killing, oh my!
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle places us in the role of Jason in various locations. From the iconic Camp Crystal Lake to an amusement park to a space station, the locales are diverse. There are 12 episodes containing 13 levels to complete. The goal is simple: murder every character in sight. Players are placed on a grid. You’re allowed to move across the map either going up, down, left, or right. Obstacles often stand in Jason’s way, but he can use that to his advantage. Moving into certain objects stops Jason in his tracks, allowing for new places on the map to be accessed. To reach some victims, you’ll need to use obstacles for assistance. Additionally, standing near people will cause them to freak out, forcing them to run across the map in fear. This gives Jason the opportunity to kill innocents indirectly.
While levels start easy, they quickly become tough. Fans know that Jason can’t swim. This is especially true in Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle. There are a few ways for you to lose. Killing animals results in an automatic failure, and walking in the crosshairs of the police officers or drowning will get Jason killed. As you progress, new mechanics are added to lure people to their death. There are phones that can attract victims to specific areas, lower walls that make Jason more visible to people on the map, and light switches that allow Jason to kill officers without being seen. There are also levels that task the player with killing everyone in a specific number of moves. Those levels are especially frustrating, but one mechanic, unfortunately, makes everything way too simple.
Stop holding my hand, mom — I’m a big killer now.
Pamela Voorhees, Jason’s mother and the original killer from Friday the 13th, is always with you. She’s the voice in your head that teaches you about the new hazards. She’s also useful if you find yourself in a bind. By pressing the minus button, Pamela will ask if you want a hint, want the solution, or want to skip the level. Taking a hint will give a vague description of what to do. She might tell you who to kill first or what section to avoid. Those hints are okay, but the fact that you can get the solution to any level automatically is frustrating.
I used it once to test out what the option does, and — wow, what a cop-out. Choosing for Pamela to give you the solution tells you how to do everything. It’s basically a cheat that costs nothing. This means that you can beat the entire game without actually doing anything on your own. In Slayaway Camp, Blue Wizard Digital’s last game, hints required coins to unlock. I used my hard-earned coins to get me out of a few jams. While I felt guilty for taking hints, it didn’t bother me as much because hints were limited to the coins in my inventory. They were luxuries, and I needed to use them sparingly. I wish that the developers would have brought this mechanic over to Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle. Giving players unlimited access to solutions takes away from the overall experience.
Oh, Jason, you’re the cutest little thing I’ve ever seen.
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle is an adorably gory game. The Jason character model looks super cute, and the characters he kills have a sense of innocence to them. I always felt terrible for laughing when Jason murdered people, but their reactions to dying were hysterical. The kill animations are particularly brutal, but if gore isn’t your cup of tea, you can turn it off. There is an R-rated filter and a PG filter for younger players.
Jason can also obtain a multitude of costumes. You’ll get one for unlocking a new episode, one for completing 13 daily challenges, one for finishing every level, and one for getting 25 kills in a mode called Murder Marathon. That game type tasks players with killing as many people as you can in a row. A meter will go across the screen, and you must press B when the arrow is within the red meter. Every costume Jason unlocks is appealing, and I loved seeing all the ways that the studio animated him.
Conclusion: A killer time with a few caveats
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle does something that’s unheard of with the popular horror franchise. It makes the menacing Jason Voorhees lovable. The gameplay is addictive, the puzzles are smart, the various obstacles provide a challenge, and it’s visually appealing. While it’s an aesthetically great experience, the decision to include an unlimited supply of hints and solutions rubbed me the wrong way. As someone who finds it satisfying to learn how to complete a puzzle on my own, it’s baffling that the developers would give the answers to every level. It’s not like puzzles are random breaks in the game. Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle is strictly a video game about solving puzzles. I’m still scratching my head about why the team would essentially rob people of the joy of figuring out the correct path on their own.
Fans of puzzle games, Slayaway Camp, and Friday the 13th will find a lot to love about Killer Puzzle. There are so many things to love. Jason’s first outing on Nintendo Switch is an entertaining and challenging time. It displays the iconic killer in a new light, and I think it can introduce the character to a younger crowd thanks to the PG filter. Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle is a fun treat for the Halloween season. If you’re looking for puzzles, gore, and cute animation, this is a great game for you.
A review code was provided by the publisher.