The horror films I've enjoyed are the ones that if you tell someone you saw them, they go, "Oh, that's more of a thriller than a horror." The Shining, The Silence of the Lambs, that sort of thing. I'm also a huge fan of cheesy 80s horror - the kind of ridiculousness spoofed in Garth Marenghi's Darkplace.
It doesn't look like I'll get quite as easy a ride from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
So, as a big scaredy cat who'd far sooner quick-scope a tango than get hunted by terrifying Texans with even more terrifying weaponry, what can The Texas Chain Saw Massacre possibly offer me?
I got to speak to Kelvin Moore, project design director at Sumo Digital, about why on earth I might want to play Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and I was shocked at just how convinced I was that this is the horror game for me.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a 3v4 asymmetric multiplayer game, with three people playing as the family of killers, and four playing as the victims. The victims have to escape, while the family have to hunt them down. We've seen asymmetric horror before, but this one seems to be aiming for something that hasn't been done before.
"The game we're making is purely based on the original 1974 classic, which kind of kicked off the slasher horror. Even watching it now, it's such an intense kind of experience. You know, it's set in broad daylight, and didn't rely on nighttime and jumpscares." Okay, we're getting somewhere, to be fair. I don't mind a creeping sense of dread in the slightest.
"It's about friends and strangers outsmarting each other. You're playing against the best AI there is, and that's other humans. It's going back to playing hide and seek as a kid."
I have close friends who don't live nearby, and we stay in touch through games. Given the asymmetric nature of this game, and the fact that even the murderous family can team up, it'd be fascinating to group up with my friends and learn each other's tactics, finding ways to pull the wool over the eyes of our pursuers or trap victims as a well-oiled machine. A collaborative experience is what I'm looking for. It sounds like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre will provide it on both sides.
Preparation is key
Obviously, if you're the family, you can pick your character out of the hulking Leatherface, the sneaky Hitchhiker trapping victims ahead of time, and the Cook with their enhanced hearing and recon ability. They all rely on their beloved grandpa, who knows everything there is to know about the iconic house, too.
"He's an NPC character. Everyone knows their own homestead, right? Like, if you're home at night and you hear something in your house, you can pinpoint where that is. That's what grandpa's like."
You can also feed the guy blood to power him up in a great example of the game using bits of the film in ways that make sense.
"The family members have to go around and there are hessian sacks where they're draining blood from previous victims. You can take that blood, feed grandpa, and level him up. As you level him up, more of his abilities come online."
Making loadouts to maximise my chances of winning is something I'm obsessed with in a load of game genres, so I'm keen to see just what can be done to ruin the lives of these poor souls. It's cool though - victims can prepare too, and they each have special abilities. Connie is one of the first victims we've seen, and she can bypass a single locked door during an escape attempt. Leland can shoulder-barge an enemy if he's in a particular pickle, meaning he gets a one-time get-out-of-murder free card. The abilities should all play into a dynamic game where everyone's trying to outsmart the other.
It gives me more of a feeling of control, something the horror genre usually doesn't offer. The combination of powerlessness with the potential to mitigate the brutality of my enemies might just be the hook I need.
Or maybe I just want to play as Leatherface and tear my enemies up with a chainsaw. We'll see.