The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Review
The review you are about to read is an account of the tragedy that befell a group of six youths, in particular Ana Flores and her sister, Maria. It is all the more tragic in the fact that they were young. Maria Flores has seemingly vanished without a trace. With no physical evidence to be found, the investigation has stalled. Hope has begun to slip through her loved one’s fingertips. Though, any grief or sadness caused by Maria Flores’ disappearance would pale in comparison to the mad and macabre that Ana and her friends would find along their way. The events surrounding this review would be just one of the many bizarre crimes later known as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
Based on my love for the source material, I may be biased. But there is no greater setting for an asymmetrical horror game than Toby Hooper’s disturbing ‘Texas Chain Saw Massacre.’ The story of a derelict family hellbent on chaos, torture, and good barbecue flawlessly lends itself to the thrills that this genre demands. Any great asymmetrical horror game needs to put terror before action. It must tap into the “thrill of the hunt,” whether playing as a petrified victim or a ruthless, maniacal killer. This is where Sumo Digital and Gun Media’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” (TCM) succeeds.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Unlike other games in the asymmetrical genre, TCM offers team-based gameplay, regardless of which role you choose. If you decide to play as a member of the ‘Family,’ you and two other teammates must work together to prevent your ‘Victims’ from escaping. Given that Victims cannot physically harm the Family (other than a few instances in which they can briefly stun opponents), they are granted an extra teammate. These 4v3 matches set the stage for intense showdowns with a variety of ways to execute gameplans, though, without a doubt, the most important thing to remember is that communication and teamwork are what oils the TCM machine – regardless of which side you find yourself on.
If you’re a Family member with a penchant for pain, it’s your job to adapt to your character’s unique abilities to bring hurt to your foes. Whether you select Leatherface, the Cook, the Hitchhiker, Sissy, or Johnny, you’ll find a plethora of options to take down enemies. Leatherface, naturally, deals the most damage with his chainsaw and is the only character capable of destroying shortcuts. Sissy is a poisons expert, and it’s her job to set traps that will incapacitate the Victims. Discovering each ability proved to be a ton of fun, and figuring out ways to best utilize them was a blast. Unlike similar games, TCM never felt frustrating in its early hours when I had little to no knowledge of the mechanics. Instead, improving my skills and becoming a more capable killer through tangible, natural progression was exciting.
On the flip side, I found Victims to be as equally rewarding. While the Victims play differently than the Family, the core idea remains the same. It’s imperative to use your character’s strengths to bolster the team. Victims comprise Julie, Leland, Sonny, Ana, and Connie, each offering a crucial skill that, combined with communicative teamwork, makes for a challenging opposition. Being able to negate the aforementioned Sissy’s poison in the nick of time with Ana’s ability or use Connie to quickly pick a lock as Leatherface barrels down a hallway towards you is brilliant. These tense, breathtaking moments are par for the course during TCM matches. At times, they genuinely had the hair on the back of my neck standing – a feeling I haven’t experienced in the asymmetrical horror genre.
Adding to the variety of ways to tackle matches is TCM’s extensive skill tree. At first, it looks like there aren’t many options, but as you gain experience and add points to the tree, new paths continuously open up. This ensures that even when the characters themselves remain the same, you won’t run into common play styles on a regular basis. It was also a joy to discover I could respec my character at any time, ensuring I’ll never feel nervous about wasting points or creating a build I’m ‘stuck’ with.
Don’t Lose Your Head
As excellent as character progression and building may be, no Texas Chain Saw game could ever be complete without nailing the atmosphere of the original film. Thankfully, TCM also nails this out of the park. Everything from the splash introduction, to the level design, to the haunting score scream Texas Chain Saw. Character models (especially those of the Family) look solid, though they certainly lack the detail you’ll find in triple-A games of the modern era. Still, any fan of the source material will find much to love in TCM’s presentation. The levels themselves all capture the spirit of the franchise, but it should be noted that the number of maps to pick from is smaller than I’d like to see.
In addition to the scarcity in the levels themselves, TCM does suffer from a few minor issues. While they never hindered my overall enjoyment of the game, I’d be remiss in not mentioning TCM’s shortcomings. At times, there’s a certain level of jank to the gameplay that’s typical of asymmetrical horror games. I think this is often due to these titles not receiving the enormous budgets behind more popular games, but without a doubt, there are times when animations just don’t quite look…human.
Plus, there’s a decided shortage of content behind the scenes. For example, all the Victims have multiple attire options to pick from, but only Leatherface on the Family’s side has more than one skin.
However, nothing compares to TCM’s inability to allow games to start without a full room and every player ‘readying’ up. I’ve no doubt that players will find themselves frustrated at wait times, as players forget to confirm they’re set on the lobby screen. The number of instances I found myself in a full room with every player ready except for one lone, forgetful outlier was disheartening. Worse yet, the lobby is terminated if the pre-match clock expires without every player doing so. If the developers hope to maintain a steady player base, this issue must be corrected immediately.
Despite The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s hiccups, I’ve had a blast with it. As a diehard fan of the original film, Sumo Digital and Gun Media’s take on its disturbing universe is faithful, suspenseful, and a hell of a lot of fun. Bear in mind TCM will require a ton of support to maintain an interested player base. But if it gets even half of the love and care that Dead by Daylight receives, it will be a multiplayer staple for years to come. Ladies and gentlemen, start your chainsaws.
***A Steam code was provided by the publisher***
- Tense, exciting matches
- Faithful to the source material
- Terrific atmosphere
- Skill trees/perks
- Lobby wait times
- Some janky animations
- Number of maps
- Lack of alternate attires for the Family