The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a captivating team-based third-person, asymmetrical survival horror multiplayer game brought to life by the creative minds at Gun Interactive and Sumo Digital. Inspired by the classic 1974 horror film directed by Tobe Hooper of the same name, this game allows you to immerse yourself in the unnerving world of the infamous Slaughter family and their reign of terror in the 1970s. You can play as one of the Slaughter family members, mercilessly hunting down your hapless victims, or as one of the terrified victims, desperate to escape the clutches of the sadistic family. With its intense gameplay and faithful representation of the movie’s essence, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre game is a prime example of how a horror franchise can be transformed into a successful gaming experience.
In April 1973, a young college student named Maria Flores went missing in Central Texas near Newt. With the investigation of her disappearance stalled Maria’s younger sister, Ana Flores, and a group of her closest friends set out to find her. Unfortunately, the sadness of Maria’s disappearance would pale compared to the despair they would soon discover because of the nightmare that awaited them. The events surrounding Maria’s disappearance would be just one of the many bizarre crimes later known as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
Although the story differs from the original and remake films, it still captures the essence of both: a group of teenagers being hunted by Leatherface and his family. However, what sets this apart and makes it more than just a throwaway story is the well-designed characters of Ana and her friends, each with their strengths and weaknesses that help them survive the horrific nightmare they found themselves in when attempting to do the right thing.
When creating a game based on an iconic horror franchise like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, it’s crucial to accurately portray the story, characters, and feelings of horror that viewers experience while watching the original film. The game begins with a gripping narration that sets the stage for the story similar to the films with scrolling text and an ominous narrator. Upon entering the game, you’ll be greeted with the familiar creepy sound reminiscent of a flashbulb that became the franchise’s iconic sound. Then, the music and visuals will transport you back to the fateful night in 1973 from the original film. Although the graphics aren’t groundbreaking, the game’s other elements make up for it by effectively engaging all of your senses as you attempt to either kill the victims or escape from the family.
As an asymmetrical team-based horror you take on the role of one of the Family or Victims. If you chose one of the Victims, you aim to escape the Slaughter family house. You’ll start in the basement and have to escape, but be careful. You’ll quickly discover that Leatherface is down there with you (it is his domain, after all). Knowing you could run into him anytime, the dread and anticipation are built from the start. However, things aren’t all rainbows and sunshine after you escape the basement because you’ll have the rest of the family to contend with as you complete your objectives to escape. On the other side, as a member of the Family, your goal is to stop the victims from escaping because your way of life depends on it. Not only do you have to hunt the Victims, but you also have to secure your property, like turning on a car battery that electrifies one of the exits.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre game features many ways for each side to approach their objectives, and you’ll find that each match will play out differently. This refreshingly breaks the monotony of other asymmetric horror games that require you to do the same things repeatedly. Unfortunately, I found that the team-based aspect wasn’t as prevalent as I’d hoped, at least with the Victims, and I found myself often alone doing objectives on the side of the map. At the same time, the other three are spread out doing their own thing because the Victim’s perks are better if you are alone. However, it is recommended that you use the in-game voice chat with a mic to communicate with the other victims so you still feel connected to them, and you can walk them through escaping the house if you already escaped.
The Family and Victims
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre game has diverse characters: the Family and the Victims. There are five of each to choose from, each with unique abilities and strengths. For example, Sissy, one of the Slaughter family members, specializes in using poison. By spitting poison at a victim, she can easily take them down. Additionally, she can poison objectives to hinder the progress of the victims. On the other hand, Leland is a powerful fighter who can confront family members head-on, allowing him to escape or come to the aid of another player being chased. The game differs from other asymmetric horror games in that only one specific character can be used during a match. This requires careful planning and teamwork with other players to ensure success.
What felt successful to me regarding the Slaughter family is how they took inspiration from inspiration from the Sawyer family in Hooper’s film (and the Hewitts in the 2003 remake). You’ll have the hitchhiker, grandpa, cook, Leatherface, and two siblings based on the characters found in the films and their abilities from their actions during the films. However, they are still original characters, and all have personalities of their own, leading them to feel fresh while still having the familiarity of the films. In addition, the teenagers were more than just the trope teenagers looking to have sex or party at an abandoned place they should never have been in the first place. Instead, they are looking for Maria, as most of us would probably do in Ana’s situation.
Skill Trees, Loadouts, and Progression
The skill tree in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre can be intense when you first see it. I spent a couple of hours understanding how it worked and how I wanted to build my chosen character once I had an understanding. Like Dead by Daylight, you have a tree of perks that you spend points on to unlock new character abilities. However, unlike Dead by Daylight, you only have access to one tree and specific paths of the tree, forcing you to decide which perks you want. After choosing a perk, you lose access to the other parts of the tree. While I initially thought this limited the skill tree, there are nodes you can purchase that give you access to random skills from the tree you may have missed. While a bit of luck was involved, I was able to build a perfect skill tree for the playstyle I wanted to play at the time. Furthermore, if you don’t like how you built out a skill tree, you can respec for free as many times as you want, giving you even more freedom.
After unlocking abilities for your character, you can equip three skills during a match. Each skill starts at level 1, but you can level them up to level 3 by simply using them. This means you don’t have to level your skill tree to a specific point, like in Dead by Daylight, but instead, you get rewarded for playing the perks you like, which is refreshing. Each character also has a unique ability that only they can use and upgrade. For example, Sonny can detect noise from all players (both Family and Victims) around the map, making it easy to see where other players are at any given moment. You gain experience by using the character’s unique ability and can upgrade it to become even more powerful. With Sonny’s perk, you can increase the distance at which he can detect the noise of other players or reduce the ability’s cooldown.
In addition to unlocking and leveling each character’s perks and unique abilities, you will have an overall account progression leveled by earning experience points from completing objectives during a match. When you level your account, you will gain additional Skill Points to purchase perks on the skill tree and fun unlockable items like behind-the-scenes pictures. Your account level is shown to everyone in a lobby and indicates your experience in the game.
Cosmetics and Unlockables
The best part of playing an asymmetric horror game is fully customizing your character so that you can become one with them. Whether you are the killer or the survivor, you want to show off your abilities and skills in the game. As someone who has spent over 1000 hours playing Dead by Daylight, I have become a Dwight main and was hoping to see that same pizza delivery personification that I have grown to love over the years. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the initial customization options for the Family and Victims. The Family has no skins available but does offer three different execution animations. The Victims have several skins available but only change the characters’ clothes. I hope more customization options will be added to allow players to personalize their favorite characters fully.
However, the game’s real highlight is the unlockables that offer insight into the original film rather than being usable in-game. These unlockables include behind-the-scenes photos from the 1974 Texas Chain Saw Massacre film and concept art from the game that shows how it incorporated elements from the film. As a franchise fan, I found this feature unique and an unexpected addition to the game. I was already hooked on the gameplay but was willing to back out of matchmaking to see what new unlockables I had earned.
PC and Steam Deck Performance
I used a midrange Lenovo gaming laptop with an AMD Ryzen 5 6600H and GeForce RTX 3050 and could play the game with minimal issues using the High settings. Unfortunately, I found my experience stutter and laggy-filled when attempting to play at Ultra settings. Still, this type of game relies more on your ability to react to the environment and players’ reactions in real time, so the drop in settings didn’t detract from the experience from me.
The Steam Deck wasn’t playable out of the box. Instead, I had to download C++ packages, install them, and manually point the game to them. This wasn’t too much of a challenge since I’m familiar with this type of this, but the average Steam Deck player may not want to do this. However, once this was completed, I could play The Texas Chain Saw Massacre on the Steam Deck with little issues and good performance on Medium settings. I enjoyed playing on my Steam Deck since I could lounge in bed and escape from the Slaughter family using a controller scheme instead of a mouse and keyboard.
Being a massive fan of the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and the 2003 remake, I was apprehensive about the game. However, my worries were quickly put to rest because The Texas Chain Saw Massacre game does not just use the horror franchise as an aesthetic but builds its core mechanics around the film’s essence. The cinematography, music, and tone have been studied with religious fervor to recreate the macabre world Tobe Hooper created almost 50 years ago. Moreover, the gameplay and character progression kept me returning for more, match after match, giving it that “just one more” feeling I severely miss from other asymmetrical horror titles. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre game transforms the iconic franchise into a terrifying experience that will haunt players for a long time.