Adapting the classic 1974 horror movie, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, into an asymmetrical multiplayer game might seem strange at first glance, especially when the team setup isn’t the same 4v1 we’ve grown accustomed to with the popular Dead by Daylight. but the even stranger 4v3. In practice, however, it works exceptionally well, creating a tense, team-based, tactical multiplayer experience that favors intelligence over force. Whether you’re in the team of four victims trying to escape or the trio of the Serial Killer Family trying to take them down, Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s adjustment to the asymmetrical multiplayer format is already great, and the 4v3 format fits perfectly with the license of the film on which it is based.
Developer/publisher Gun Interactive promises more maps for release next year, but for this test session I’ve played half a dozen rounds in the most recognizable location from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the rural Texas house in which the film takes place. Victims start in the basement, and teamwork is encouraged and, dare I say, vital; There are only a few ways out of the basement and only two ways out of the house once you get upstairs. In other words, there are only two ways to win. Yes, only two, because the Victims cannot kill the Family, but only stun it, which affects the balance of power even more. However, they can slip through narrow gaps in walls, and dodge barbed wire traps.
In the meantime, characters on both sides have unique abilities. While the Cook can listen carefully for non-stealth Victims and add locks to doors for the Family, making it take Victims longer to get through, Connie, for example, has a unique ability to break a lock instantly. This can literally mean the difference between victory and defeat, as in my last round, I was chasing after Connie as she headed out the backyard gate; I wish I had pictures of this. In any case, she was the last victim left standing after stabbing all of her friends. However, my resistance was exhausted and Connie reached the door just before I did. And thanks to that ability that she had been keeping until the last moment, she immediately broke the lock, passed through the door and escaped triumphantly. Without that advantage, she would have had plenty of time to claim one last kill and victory for me.
I reveled in Leatherface’s ability to rev his chainsaw, and how that is tied into the power of his attacks.
For his part, the Leatherface of the franchise is big and not at all agile. But you can use your chainsaw to cut through doors and destroy crawl space entrances and exits so victims have fewer navigation options. I reveled in his ability to rev his chainsaw, and how that is tied into the power of his attacks. If you hit a victim with the chainsaw without revving it, you’ll deal some damage. If you accelerate it too much and for too long, it will get stuck. But if you hit the sweet spot of the rev range, you’ll get a one-hit kill, with a quick, creepy cutscene. (Note that you can also disable the chainsaw to move more stealthily.) From my own experience, I can say that this is immensely satisfying. Also, by stirring her up as she goes through the house he allows her to strike terror into the hearts and minds of the victims very loudly. She is my favorite character so far.
Finally, the Hitchhiker is the most skilled and cunning of the trio of serial killers. He can get through the same cracks and crevices as the victims, and I made sure to use his agility to get into the front yard when the game started, turning on the gas generator that powers the electrified security system that guards the path. You can also set traps that slow down Victims, either by trapping them directly or placing them in places where teens have to spend time disabling them.
Grandpa is the non-playable member of the family who acts as a kind of all-seeing eye, and the blood you feed him levels him up.
The three members of the family know how to collect blood from the house, as well as from the victims, to feed grandpa, the non-playable member of the family who acts as an all-seeing eye of sorts, as the blood you give him levels him up. He will occasionally yell and mark any victim that moves the moment he yells. And speaking of leveling up, there’s a huge persistent skill tree that I didn’t get to play with in this single demo session, but which promises to let you tailor your respective Victim and Family skills to your liking.
I admit that I enjoyed playing with the Family more than with the Victims in my first rounds. I had a blast trying to outsmart them despite being outnumbered. But there’s no doubt that teamwork and coordination will pay off for good Victims players, like when one of them goes to the top floor of the house and restores power to the basement exit, allowing his teammates to of equipment another way of escape. In addition, victims can hide in the dark corners of the house, in the bushes outside and sneak quietly so as not to make much noise and alert the family. As the developer who guided me said: “Just leaving a door open can hurt you in this game.”
The sheer number of tactics at play between these two contrasting sides is impressive. More laudable is how well Texas Chain Saw Massacre plays right now, even though its release date isn’t until sometime next year. The movie license hasn’t just been pasted onto the game like a bauble. On the contrary, it feels like a great matchup, and I can’t wait to play more.