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20 Aug 2023

REVIEW: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre on Xbox

Review by Jon Donnis
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre video game manages to capture the grim essence of the iconic 1974 film in an asymmetric multiplayer online horror title. The game is set just before the events of the original 1974 movie.  This hide and seek style game places players in the shoes of either the infamous Slaughter family or their desperate victims, promising a chilling experience that stays true to the source material.

The main idea of the game is that three Slaughter Family players have to try to murder four helpless victim players, where as their job is to simply escape. The various playable characters all have their own unique stats and abilities to help them to either find the victims, or to escape the killers.

The job of the killers is to secure the area, make sure electric fences are turned on, doors are locked, traps set etc, and of course trying to kill the victims. The Cook character has the ability to add extra padlocks to doors and can use enhanced hearing to locate Victims, Johnny has a tracking ability, and Hitchhiker can lay down traps. You also need to feed blood to Grandpa, who is sat on a rocking chair in a different location each time you play, when given blood he uses a sonar sweep to highlight moving victims for a time.

The job of the victims is of course to escape, but to do so you will need to find tools, disable traps, find escape routes and so on.

As you play you will earn skill points and level up, you can unlock new abilities in the skill tree.

The Good
The game boasts impressive graphics that immerse players in the eerie and unsettling world of the film. The visual design succeeds in maintaining the gritty atmosphere, contributing significantly to the overall horror experience.

Sound effects play a crucial role in creating tension and fear, effectively enhancing the immersion as players navigate the dark and dangerous landscape.

General game mechanics are solid, providing a smooth and intuitive gameplay experience that translates well into the horror genre.

The Bad
One major downfall is the lacklustre tutorial system, there is no gameplay tutorial, just sit and watch endless videos. New players may find themselves lost and confused as they attempt to grasp the mechanics and objectives of the game. A more comprehensive tutorial would greatly enhance the learning curve.

The difficulty balance between the Slaughter family and the victims appears one-sided, potentially leading to frustration and imbalanced gameplay, depending on which role you're assigned.

Content-wise, the game leaves much to be desired. With only three maps available and a limited roster of playable characters, the game can quickly become repetitive and stale.

Long matchmaking times mar the experience, leading to extended waiting periods before players can actually dive into the action. This can test the patience of even the most dedicated horror enthusiasts.

Map layouts suffer from confusion, making navigation a frustrating endeavour, especially for newcomers trying to survive the Family's pursuit, but also if you are playing as one of the family and find yourself starting the game outside, and basically locked out of the property.

The absence of a single-player or offline mode is disappointing, limiting the game's appeal to those without consistent online connectivity.

Requiring Xbox Gold to play creates an additional barrier to entry, excluding potential players who aren't subscribed to the service.

Player movements feel sluggish and unwieldy, diminishing the sense of urgency that should accompany a horror-themed game.

The limited variety in playable characters, with only five victims and five killer characters each, hampers replayability and diversity in strategies.

Night time map gameplay is hindered by excessive darkness, rendering matches nearly unplayable without reliable means of illumination.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre video game brings the iconic horror film to life in a chilling asymmetric multiplayer experience. While it successfully captures the essence of the original movie through its graphics, sound effects, and general mechanics, the game stumbles in areas such as tutorial implementation, balance, content variety, and accessibility.

The inclusion of a single-player mode, improved tutorials, and a more diverse character roster could greatly elevate the overall gameplay experience. With its current state, the game earns a score of 6 out of 10, leaving room for improvement in delivering a more polished and engaging horror adventure.

Oh, and hope they don't turn the servers off, as if they do the game won't play at all. I am sure they wouldn't do that though?

Out Now on Xbox

Also available as part of Game Pass.

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