Tobe Hooper’s original film that debuted in 1974 is considered a masterpiece among slasher fans. His use of off-screen violence, macabre context, and film grain would terrify viewers for years to come. Many viewers think its events are legitimate to this day because of the film’s gruesome intro. I can happily say that Sumo Digital and Gun Media capture Hooper’s vision flawlessly.
I had the choice of playing Ana, Leland, Connie, Sonny, or Julie and traverse rural Texas to search for our missing friend Maria Flores. Each of these characters have unique abilities that can help facilitate escape from the cannibalistic hillbilly murderers who have captured you. For example, one can lock pick one door without consuming a lock-pick, another can perceive sounds and see where they are coming from (think like wall hacks), and even tackle one of the family members.
The opposing team takes the role of the family and has the goal of slaughtering the escaped victims who start in the basement or underground area on the map. The family in the preview consisted of The Hitchhiker (the same one from the film), Leatherface, and the Cook. Gun has also revealed they are expanding Texas Chainsaw Massacre lore by creating two more family members known as Johnny, and Sissy.
The match started with us tied up in the underground area, struggling to escape via a mini game. We then scavenged the basement looking for ways to escape. My first match I remember I found a bone shiv, and unlock tool, and worked my way upstairs. Since the exits weren’t powered, I ended up jumping out of a window, and sprinting towards the front yard exit. Making my first match as Victim a win.
As for the family role, each player is spaced apart with Leatherface in the basement, The Cook inside the house or the administration office, and Hitchhiker is outside. Each of their abilities is tied to their characters and the role they carry. Leatherface has the most stamina although he is slower and is lord of the saw. The Cook can listen for sounds that will give him the location of a nearby victim who is making noise and lock specific doors. The Hitchhiker can trap areas and access areas that Victims can scurry through to try and break line of sight from their captors. Hitchhiker and Cook can wound their prey, but they do take longer to confirm a kill whereas Leatherface is a hulking terrifying killing machine who has the potential to kill you or bleed you out in one or two strikes.
Most of my time playing the Tech Test I played as the family, and I found that role very enjoyable and rewarding. The hide and seek style of gameplay while communicating with teammates to try and stop someone from escaping made the experience feel genuine and gated in the games reality.
When I started the tech test, I was quick to note and happy that a lot of the games mechanics and game flow were left up to the players to determine, and then were clarified by Gun shortly after the test began. For example, Victims can immediately escape if they can get out of the basement and Hitchhiker, or the Cook don’t turn on the generator or car battery which are preventative measures from people escaping. This enabled my escape in my first match as Victim. As players began to figure these features out the flow of a typical match began to take shape.
To escape, victims would need to utilize unlock tools, and other items to work on one of the four exits present on each map. Now I wasn’t completely helpless as the victim. I discovered I was able to scavenge bone shiv’s. To stab a family member in the back if they presented it. Yet I realized my best bet at survival was almost always staying stealthy and working patiently towards obstacles that would lead me to an exit.
In the role of the family, I would perform various tasks such as powering up the generator, turn on the car battery, set traps, lock doors, and gather blood to give to the greatest killer to ever live, Grandpa! If victims aren’t careful their noise can awaken Grandpa and in turn give the Family a cooldown ability that allows them to see where Victims are if they make too much noise, and see the highlight of important doors, and items to interact with. When Grandpa is woken up, the family can now access the basement, but I found I needed to be cautious and ensure my team locked the doors after opening them. Playing as the Family requires coordinating working off each other’s abilities to eliminate the victims.
All these details in each match I played were an absolute thrill to watch unfold. Thankfully too, the tech test performed masterfully with only a couple bugs plaguing the experience, none of them were game breaking.
The details in the maps are more than just visually appealing, they match the tone, and lore of the film. You can really tell that Gun Media is passionate for the source material of which they are basing this game in continuity of. From the notorious hallway sliding door that you first see Leatherface burst form on the house map, to the industrial junkyard setting of the slaughterhouse.
Last year I wrote an article about asymmetrical titles and how I felt that the genre space for these games needed change. Even mentioning I was enthusiastic about Texas Chainsaw Massacre breaking away from the one player versus many formula other games would utilize. With this genre being one of my favorites to dive into, I can proudly say that Texas Chainsaw Massacre the Game is a welcome BBQ faithful to Tobe Hooper’s original film with a bloody beating heart at the center of it.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre will be released on August 18th on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Xbox Game Pass.