The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Review: Lots of Horror, Little Content

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre game is fun, but doesn't offer much to do.

In 2017, Gun Media published Friday the 13th: The Game, an asymmetric game based on the beloved horror franchise. Despite being well-received by Jason Vorhees fans, legal issues caused significant problems for Friday the 13th, and it's set to be delisted at the end of the year. While it might be too late for Friday the 13th, Gun Media has now released The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, a similar asymmetric horror game centered around a very different film series. As such, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has a lot in common with Friday the 13th, but there are also a lot of differences. Some of those differences are for the better, but not all of them.

In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre films, Leatherface serves as the franchise's icon, just as Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers, and Ghostface do for their respective series. While most killers tend to be solitary villains, what's truly horrifying about Leatherface is that he doesn't act alone. His chainsaw makes him the most intimidating character in the films, but his family is the greatest weapon in his arsenal. Smartly, developer Sumo Nottingham has used this as a key point in the game, distinguishing it from Friday the 13th. Rather than one killer hunting down victims, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre features three of them in each match.

Leatherface and Friends

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(Photo: Gun Media)

From the start screen, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre lets players choose between playing as members of the Sawyer family or their potential victims. Players can also choose the quick match option if they don't care either way. Each match has seven players in total, with three killers and four victims, and the experience is vastly different depending on which you play as. Victims start out having been kidnapped by Leatherface and must break free. These victims are slowly bleeding out from their wounds, and must find the tools to escape before Leatherface finds them. As Leatherface hunts, the other two killers can quickly join him, or help out in other ways. For example, by feeding grandpa blood, the old man gains a sort of sonar ability, giving the members of the family an idea where the victims might be hiding.

While I was a fan of Friday the 13th, I wasn't particularly good at it when I took on the role of Jason; in one match, I can actually recall failing to kill any of the counselors at Camp Crystal Lake. That didn't make for a good time for me, and it's a safe bet no one else had any fun, either. What's great about The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is that the game's 3v4 setup helps to pick-up the slack from one player. When I played as Leatherface, I still kind of stunk at tracking down victims, but the other family members would help out. The same happened vice versa; in some matches, I would bat clean-up as the Cook, and I found myself doing much better at killing off victims that managed to escape Leatherface's clutches.

The gameplay is a lot of fun, and that's helped along by the presentation. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre features solid voice work, and a lot of the audio builds on the game's tension; the sound of a chainsaw nearby or even in the distance never failed to fill me with dread. The graphics do a serviceable job, but players shouldn't expect anything that truly pushes these platforms to their limits. I did have a couple games crash on me, though I didn't find it to be a frequent problem.

The Friday the 13th Difference

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(Photo: Gun Media)

Unfortunately, the lack of any kind of variety holds The Texas Chain Saw Massacre back from greatness. At launch, the game has just three maps, all of which are based on the original 1974 film: the family house, the gas station, and the slaughterhouse. While that movie is the most well-regarded in the series, the fact is that there are eight other movies to draw from, which could have offered the game more variety. My hope is that Gun Media and Sumo Nottingham will add content from other films in the series over time, though the publisher has indicated that legal red-tape could prevent that. If they can get that resolved, a map based on the carnival-inspired location from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 would be a great addition.

The lack of maps wouldn't be so glaring if The Texas Chain Saw Massacre offered anything else to do. In Friday the 13th: The Game, developer Illfonic offered single-player challenges, and a "Virtual Cabin" that celebrated the franchise's history. There isn't anything like that in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, which means players can't do anything other than play with one another online. With just three maps, that can start to get a little stale after a while. If we do start to get content based on other films, I'd love a challenge where "Lefty" Enright has to use chainsaws to take down the support beams in the Sawyer home like he does in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, or a challenge where Leatherface has to quickly kill a party bus full of people, like he does in 2022's Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

A Strong Foundation

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(Photo: Gun Media)

As it stands now, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a good game with the potential to be great. The multiplayer is fun and exciting, but the game sometimes feels as bare as the bone chimes hanging in the Sawyer family house. Sumo Nottingham and Gun Media clearly have a lot of reverence for the source material, and the two companies have given fans a game that feels true to the license. Hopefully The Texas Chain Saw Massacre will continue to grow and expand in a way that keeps players coming back.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. A code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review, and it was reviewed on an Xbox Series X.