The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Review
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Review
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is an asymmetrical horror game based on the iconic 1974 horror film directed by Tobe Hooper. I’m not a huge horror fan, but I know about it and the terrifying Leatherface, and if you do too, this game should have piqued your interest ever since it was first announced.
Instead of going for the more obvious (arguably) third-person survival/action horror game a la Resident Evil, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre goes asymmetric, employing an intriguing 3v4 scenario that’s distinctly different from many similar titles that usually goes with a 1vX with an overpowered villain.
It is, then, quite unfortunate because the game has some good bones, but there’s a distinct lack of meat that could have made it shine in a sea of asymmetrical horror games.
If you’re unfamiliar with asymmetrical games, the loop consists of a “weaker” team of multiple players doing whatever it takes to survive and get away from the killer, usually an overpowered player to even out the odds. The weaker survivors have numerous tools at their disposal and will have to make use of various pieces of the environment to make it out. While there are a few interchangeable mechanics here and there, this is usually the gist and loop that players will have to contend with.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre takes the idea and gives it an interesting twist. The killers, in this case, the family, make it a 3v4 affair, offering a much more interesting take and putting a premium on communication between team members due to this shift in numbers and changes up the dynamic dramatically.
Each team in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre will have various upgradeable abilities that they can use. The killers have the Cook, whose ability is to “listen” and hear noisy victims, and upgrading this will further increase detection range. The main villain, Leatherface, will have his iconic chainsaw in tow and can reduce its overheat timer when upgraded.
The survivors, or the “victims” in the case of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, also have abilities of their own. Leland can knock down or stun Family members except for Leatherface, Julie can render herself immune from being tracked by the Cook and Johnny, and Ana can significantly reduce damage taken from attacks while also granting immunity from poison.
If that’s not enough, Grandpa is a wildcard element in the game that can help the Family unless the victims can do something about it. When fed with blood by the family, which can be obtained around the map or from the victims, Grandpa can let out a “sonar” ability that will locate where the victims are. Likewise, the victims can “feed” Grandpa with bone scraps, stunning him and disabling his ability for the time being.
The skills in the game are quite synergistic with the whole team and work well in actual matches, offering sessions that are frantic and full of blunders and errors during the first few times around the map. The deep skill trees offer branching paths that change how players approach each game and are one of the better features of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre because the dynamics change depending on how skills progress.
One thing that the game gets right is how tense and scary some games will feel, especially when you start hearing Leatherface’s chainsaw revving up for the kill, owing to some great audio design that elevates the experience. There’s a palpable sense of dread as players crawl around the hallways and corridors, owing to the fact that the killers can appear at any time.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has three maps to choose from, all of which are fantastic representations of locations from the film. They’re vast and offer many obstacles and interactive elements, but despite that, there’s one glaring point – The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has only three maps.
To further the point, games of this type rely heavily on how much content there is on offer, and while gameplay experiences can vary from session to session depending on the skill levels of the players, choosing between just the limited amount of maps will eventually get tiring.
Adding to some frustration is the fact that if you get matched with newcomers or pros, then games can tend to get very lopsided from the get-go. Despite my being that newcomer, I was lucky to be carried by teammates that knew exactly what to do and how to go about it. Should you be fortunate enough to get matched with veteran players, the game can get super tense, the way it should be.
I can personally consider myself a “newbie” to the genre, all things considered, but I can pick up on things pretty quickly during the match. Despite that, it took me a few actual runs of the game to get to grips with how things should work, and I really wanted a robust tutorial mode that would teach me the ropes before I threw myself into online matches. While fun, it felt bad knowing that I was costing my team the match due to some blunders, and while learning during actual matches might be the best teacher, it’s not ideal to sacrifice a session just to figure things out.
Of course, balancing is a crucial point that the developers will have to contend with throughout the life cycle of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Only time will tell how solid the post-launch support will be, but it will certainly be telling of how long this game will last.
During my time with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, I encountered some bugs and frame dips, especially during encounters with the opposite team. I did not encounter any crashes, but I did drop out of a couple of games despite having a stable connection, along with waiting a bit to actually get into a match. I’ll probably attribute these to teething issues and should be fixed by the devs in the coming days or weeks.
What we liked:
- Fantastic audio design
- Interesting twists to the genre
- Maps are well-designed
- Deep skill trees for both sides
What we didn’t like:
- Only three maps to play on
- Minor technical issues
Verdict: Wait for it…
Saying it again, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has good bones to it but is lacking some meat in important areas that may make or break it. With only three maps to play at launch, players looking for more will surely feel disappointed.
Matches in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre will offer varied experiences, but during my time with it, some of these sessions tend to be lopsided affairs depending on who gets paired against who. As a newbie myself, getting teamed up with fellow newbies was fun and hilarious as we scrambled around the maps without knowing what to do, but going up against knowledgeable players quickly took out all of the fun from it. I understand that this is how things play out sometimes, but it certainly put a damper on the experience.
Even then, there’s fun to be had in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but it is quite hard to recommend it at launch when things are still a bit bare bones, so to speak. Fans of the genre may want to check it out due to its fantastic recreation of the film, but some caution regarding the breadth of content is advised.
*The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was reviewed on a PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.