When Gun Media's Wes Keltner and Ronnie Hobbs announced Summer Camp, a slasher-inspired horror game set in a creepy campground, it was already more than an homage to Friday the 13th. The developers were open about their love of ghostly, hockey-masked murderer Jason Voorhees and they had even recruited Friday the 13th veterans to work on the game. This included actor, director and special-effects creator Tom Savini, the man behind the mask in Friday the 13th parts 7-10 Kane Hodder, and the film's original composer Harry Manfredini.
"Basically, we were a Friday the 13th video game; we just didn't have the license," Hobbs said. Five months after the announcement of Summer Camp, Friday the 13th creator and director Sean S. Cunningham reached out to the team with his blessing -- and, after a few meetings, the license to the Jason Voorhees franchise.
"We were blown away and humbled at the same time," Hobbs said. "I've wanted to create a Friday the 13th video game nearly my whole life, so to hear him validate our work on Summer Camp was the highest honor.... He said if this license will make your game better, then I'd love for you to have it."
Now, Hobbs, Keltner and their band of horror-movie masters are building the first official Friday the 13th game since 1989. And there's another first: You'll get to play as Jason.
Friday the 13th is an asymmetrical multiplayer game, where one person is Jason Voorhees and seven other players are counselors attempting to escape Camp Crystal Lake. The counselors represent a slew of familiar horror tropes, including a cheerleader, a nerd, a jock, "the girl next door" and "the edgy guy." The counselors have to sneak through the grounds, in groups or alone, though Jason can hear when players move and instantly show up directly behind them, machete in-hand. For the counselors, it's a game of stealth, strategy and luck.
Jason is incredibly powerful and he's designed to take out counselors in the most creative ways possible. Here's how Gun Media describes playing as Jason on the game's Kickstarter page (launched today):
You get to stalk camp counselors in Camp Crystal Lake and brutally kill in new and inventive ways (as well as some that will seem all too familiar). Grab a counselor in a choke hold, pick them up off the ground, and smash their face into a tree. Repeatedly. Or how about lifting a counselor up above your head as they kick and scream, holding them aloft long enough to walk near a rack of farm spikes to slam your victim down upon them? Yes, you get to do that because that's what Jason does. He's an unflinching, brutal killing force; the ultimate predator, and for the first time ever YOU control this horror icon.
To Hobbs, creative violence is the crux of Friday the 13th.
"Going too over-the-top in the gore department isn't really a concern to us right now," Hobbs says. "In fact, the slasher genre is more about creative kills and practical effects than all-out gore. We have Tom Savini leading this department, so expect to us to be very faithful to the slasher genre. In the end, I'm sure the ESRB will make sure we don't go too far overboard."
To be clear, Friday the 13th probably won't be a "T for Teen" kind of experience.
Cunningham, the series creator, will be involved in the game as well, offering thematic support and direction. "We love showing him the progress we're making and even more so love hearing his opinion," Hobbs says.
Friday the 13th is seeking $700,000 on Kickstarter starting today, and it's in development for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. For Hobbs, it's all a dream (or maybe a nightmare) come true. He's excited to build a game that puts players in Jason's shoes.
"But actually what intrigues me just as much, if not more, is the 'killer vs. victim' dynamic," Hobbs says. "This is a staple of slasher films and something we've yet to see fully realized in the video game industry."