The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Review – Keep the Horror Coming

    Title: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
    Developer: Sumo Digital
    Release Date: August 18, 2023
    Reviewed On: PS5
    Publisher: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
    Genre: Asymmetric Horror

Following the shutdown of the Friday the 13th game, publisher Gun Media has since moved on to another iconic horror franchise alongside developer Sumo Digital to release The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. This title offers a similar asymmetrical experience to their previous game but with a few notable differences.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre takes place before the events of the original 1974 movie. The game sees Ana Flores and four friends leading a small search party for Ana’s missing sister Maria. However, Maria had come face to face with the Slaughter Family, and she sadly won’t be found any time soon. It isn’t long until Ana and her friends end up nearly meeting the same fate, as they are captured by the family and must use their wits if they wish to live another day. To survive, they’ll need to navigate various maps while being hunted by Leatherface and his family.

The three maps available are each distinct and well-crafted. Two of them, the Gas Station and the Slaughter’s house, are based on scenes from the film and highlight the high level of detail that went into creating these areas.

Similar to other games of this genre, you can play as either Leatherface and members of his family or as one of the “Victims,” who wake up at the start of a round, injured and tied up. The victims must first rip free of their restraints and find their way out of the Basement to escape their captures.

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However, this needs to happen quickly, with several essential items to progress. Items such as lockpicks, health potions, and skeleton shards can be used, but this must be done while a powerful enemy lurks around the Map. Leatherface’s primary weapon is his classic chainsaw, which takes time to rev up. If encountered, players in range of his charge attack may have a high chance of being killed or downed instantly.

I found the experience of playing as the Victims terrifying, as I had to crouch through the basement halls praying that an enemy player doesn’t spot me. Further, I was also afraid of leading them to one of my teammates, which is always a possibility. Still, some cool effects occur when caught, such as the 70’s era on-screen flashing when a Slaughter family member is nearby and the terrifying build-up music that begins playing, which builds tension during gameplay.

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If you’re lucky enough to escape Leatherface’s wrath and get to the main building, the nightmare only worsens with the introduction of the Slaughter Family’s Grandpa. When Grandpa is on watch, he can alert the other Slaughter family members to your position. Of course, Victims could also give themselves away if they make too much noise when looking around or opening a large door, such as the one that leads upstairs.

Reaching the main floor is also when matches become more intense. This is where victims will run into other members of the Slaughter Family, including the Cook and Hitchhiker, with Edwin Neal reprising his role from the original movie to voice the latter. There are also two original members of the Slaughter family, Sissy and Johnny. However, Bubba is not alone in hunting the four victims, as two family members will spawn in this area, ready to help the big guy hunt down any unfortunate victims they see.

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While they don’t have powerful chainsaw attacks like Leatherface, they’re just as deadly. Each family member has special abilities to use to their advantage against the victims. Some of them are even faster than Leatherface in the case of Hitchhiker and Sissy, who can use certain kinds of poisons to damage victims further. Still, these characters can also fit through some of the crawlspaces and small areas scattered across the Map that only Victims can access. Meanwhile, the Cook can use his advanced hearing to get an idea of where a Victim is, while Johnny’s ability allows him to trace footsteps.

Still, the Victims also have special abilities, all of which are useful in one way or another. For instance, Sonny has a hearing ability similar to the Cooks, while Leland can slam into family members and knock them down. The victims I played the most during my time were Connie and Ana.

Connie can lockpick faster than the other victims, allowing her to get through the lockpicking task quicker and make a quick escape. At the same time, Ana can use her ability to take less damage when attacked, allowing her to live longer. Finally, there’s Julie, whose special ability is increased stamina, which depletes slower than the rest of the victims, giving her more time to outrun enemies.

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The Texas Chain Saw Massacre also provides players with a robust skill tree system to upgrade the Victims and Slaughter family members with new abilities and perks. There are also cosmetics to give your player character a unique appearance, such as a woman Leatherface costume, being a callback to the films. Players can even unlock new execution animations to take down victims in a different way.

However, The skill tree is done in a branching path system which means certain perks will be locked away from players unless they reset the skill tree and go down a different path for new skills to place in their layouts. You can edit a character’s attributes to make them perform better within specific skills, such as having more health or stamina or being quieter and performing environment skill challenges more quickly.

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They’re multiple ways to escape each Map when playing as a victim. One way is by fixing a fuse box to open a gate outside on the main Map. Another method involves climbing back down into the Basement you first wake up in and finding a way to open a locked tunnel to the Sewers.

The Victims are on borrowed time due to the injuries they sustained from being tortured before each match, meaning their health will slowly deteriorate as they try and escape. They will eventually begin leaving behind blood trails should they stick around long enough and waste time. Fortunately, there are health bottles that ward off these side effects.

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It is possible to hide in fridges or meat lockers, but the longer you hide, the more anxiety and fear build until the character forces themselves out. If a Slaughter family member is nearby, it’s possible to stun them by bursting out of the locker at the right moment, beware though, as one of Sissy’s abilities allows her to hide in these spots as well and could give players a nasty surprise should they try to enter.

Further, victims can also jump in wells outside the Map if a Slaughter is about to come to them, allowing them temporary refuge… In Leatherface’s lair and it comes with them also losing a chunk of their health, which, if it’s low enough, forces them to wait a minute before recovering from their wound. To the player’s relief, the Slaughters cannot jump in after them and must head down the Basement in a longer route to finish them off.

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After so many years of only having the infamous Atari 2600 game adaptation of this iconic horror series, Sumo Digital has delivered a nightmarish multiplayer experience in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. There’s so much room for experimentation and teamwork across each match that keeps you wanting to play more at the cost of having a heart attack while playing as a victim throughout some tense gameplay systems.

The skill system and balance are fine-tuned to offer each side a chance of victory, but the current state of the game for this review does come with a few moments of crashes and glitches. None of these take away from the fun and anxiety-inducing matchups players are bound to have.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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