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Review: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Developed by Sumo Digital and published by Gun Interactive, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a brand-new third-person asymmetrical horror game. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is based on the iconic movie of the same name which was released back in 1974 and if you watched the movie, you will find tons of cool references from the movie in the game as well. Right from the cast to the bloody locations to the gorefest that the movie was, the new game is the perfect way to experience this brilliant franchise in a video game format. This is our review of the PC release of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in which we use a chainsaw to cut up some victims and try to unhook a car battery while trying not to get our throat sliced.

There are three different maps in the game including the Gas Station, Family House, and the Slaughter House. Each map also offers a day and night cycle so you never know what map or time of the day will be coming in the next match. Even with that said, each time the traps, layout, and puzzles are randomized so that the game retains its challenge and does not become too easy after a few rounds of memorizing the layouts and puzzles. The puzzles are randomized in a way that they might become easy or hard depending on their variation. For us, the most common variation was for the escape gates where sometimes they were electrified and sometimes they were not. When they were electrified, the victims had an additional task of turning off the electricity source as well before opening the door otherwise they would just go there and fall down due to electric shocks.

Review: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

The general layout of all three maps is the same as each location will have a basement, a ground floor, and a side area which is the final area from where the victims can escape after opening the final door. At the start of the match, all of the victims start in the basement where they are hanging, and from there, they have to wiggle and get free. From there, they have to plot their escape, collect supplies and escape in one piece. On the other hand, the family has to find the victims and kill them all before they are dead. Each match requires seven players out of which three are the killers, while four are the victims.

One thing you will notice instantly is how well-detailed the levels are. Each location is atmospheric and feels exactly like a horror movie. The feeling of horror intensifies when you are the victim because you know that a killer might appear out of nowhere at any time. While the ground floor is not really that scary, the basement sections of each map are an absolute horror fest. You will find human bones, beheaded corpses, blood pools, hung bodies, and tons of other similar horror elements scattered throughout different rooms. The thin corridors and tight spaces also tickle your claustrophobia as you try to navigate them while trying your best to not make any noise. All of these are littered with different traps set by the Family as well that will test even more of your sneaking skills.

The traps range from electrified switches to door locks to hanging bones that make a sound if you run through them. Every time you trigger a trap or even perform an activity that makes too much noise, you will be highlighted on the map which makes stealth a priority if you are the victim. Similarly, the element of surprise is equally good for the Family as well because if the victims can hear you from afar, they will be alerted in advance and will easily avoid your path. All of this combines to deliver a traditional cat-and-mouse game that Sumo Digital is known for. The victims will find different useful items as well such as health and tools to open doors, pick locks, and much more while the Family will try their best to lock doors, lay down traps, and kill the victims before they escape.

If you have seen the original movie from the 70s, you will instantly recognize the cast of the game as well. The Slaughter Family comprises killers who will be securing the property and actively seeking and killing the victims. However, these are not just mere skins for the same base model. Each of the Family members is unique and comes with unique attributes and skills which will aid all players in finding and killing the victims. The iconic Leatherface is the biggest member of the family but also the slowest. He has a chainsaw that takes time to start up but once it gets going, it will easily kill the victims, cut through obstacles and blockades, and everything else. He might be slow, but he hits hard. Similarly, the rest of the Family members Cook, Hitchhiker, Johnny, and Sissy also come with their own unique skills and attributes along with their weaknesses.

Over to the Victims’ side, you have Connie, Leland, Ana, Sonny, and Julie. They also come with their own unique weaknesses and strengths like Connie can instantly unlock lockpicks and Sonny has a heightened hearing ability which allows him to hear what is going on around him much better than other people on the team. Both parties must work together to either escape or kill the victims and this is what this game is all about. Apart from the base stats of all characters, the game also offers further customization with a detailed Skill Tree and loadouts.

The Skill Tree allows you to unlock new skills and attribute points that can be used to increase the base stats of your characters. All Family characters come with three base attributes Savagery, Blood Collection, and Endurance while the Victims have a more varied attribute chart with different options like Toughness, Endurance, Strength, Proficiency, and Stealth. You can assign points to these attributes to increase that particular attribute and thus it will allow you to build custom builds that suit your gameplay. For example, if you like sneaking, you will want to invest points into stealth but if you prefer direct confrontations, you will be more inclined towards strength and toughness. You can also equip different perks and abilities here which can be unlocked from the Skill Tree as well.

Review: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Apart from the playable Slaughter Family members and the Victims, there is also another character crucial to both sides and that is the grandpa. Yes, the iconic grandpa is also present in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and believe it or not, his presence is crucial to both parties. The Family members must feed him blood gathered from victims and other sources to unlock special bonus abilities which are equipped in the loadout screen. The more blood he is fed, the more deadly the grandpa becomes. He will also aid the Family members by highlighting the Victims on the screen. The Victims can find and incapacitate the grandpa to get some time for freely roaming around the map. Once the grandpa is incapacitated, he cannot highlight the Victims on the screen, so he plays a crucial role in the gameplay.

The gameplay of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre feels pretty balanced at this time and during our matches, we did not feel any of the characters or sides being too overpowered. The Family members are fairly stronger and harder to avoid but if you are a good runner or sneaker, you can escape the property without even running into a Family member. There are different mechanics in place to help both the Family and the Victims, so clever use of these mechanics is necessary for winning the game. Both sides appear to be fairly balanced and decent on their own terms. The character variety is there, and the customization is diverse enough for players to explore their own unique playstyles as well. The levels are highly enjoyable and give an authentic horror survival experience, especially if you are stuck in lower sections of the map.

What we really like about The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is that it encourages you to play both as the Family and the Victims in order to fully understand the mechanics of the game. If you prefer only the killers, you cannot know all of the shortcuts and the potential escape routes for the victims, and this would cause the victims to slip away right under your nose because you would not be aware of a secret passage. Similarly, if you stick to only playing as Victims, you will not understand how the different killers perform and how you can use their weaknesses while playing as Victims. For example, at the start of our review sessions, I was in a party that kept choosing Family and in some of our matches, we were clueless and did not even find a single Victim to kill, let alone injure them. They escaped without much trouble from us. It was only playing a few matches as Victims; our team was able to fully understand the secret paths and understood key locations where to remain more vigilant than others.

However, with that said, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is not short of issues at this point as well. The most common issue we faced during our review sessions was the matchmaking part. Despite running three in-house systems with the game, there were instances where we were just left inside a party with no Victims or Family showing up and we were just thrown back to the main screen. This issue occurred more when we specified what we wanted to be in the game. Quick Matches did not give us much trouble and we were able to jump into quite a lot of games fairly quickly.

Apart from the matchmaking issues, the game is also suffering from different technical issues like framerate inconsistencies. Two of our in-house systems were top-end with Nvidia RTX 3090 and 4090 along with AMD Ryzen 7000X3D series processors but during different encounters, the game dropped frames massively. These frame drops were common during combat interactions when we were attacking the Victims or the Family were attacking us. Normal exploration modes were fairly decent with only a few choppy framerate drops.

Apart from the framerate issues, several gameplay bugs were also detected during our review sessions. At different times, one of the team members was placed outside the final door, and in certain instances, the door was electrified which meant that the player was unable to get inside until another member disconnected the electricity first and unlocked the door for them. This happened multiple times and was more of a gameplay bug that actually made one of the team members unable to do anything in the game, hence breaking the game for them. Apart from these major issues, one of the team members was unable to run the game while running an overlay for performance as well. It instantly crashed the game until he turned off the overlay and tried again.

None of these issues in the game currently are something that cannot be fixed with future updates, but they can be annoying for the time being. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is now available on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox and seamlessly allows all three platforms to work tougher. In many of our matches, we had players from Xbox and PlayStation as well. Before a game starts, the game notifies the platform of each player. It is also good because if one particular platform is seeing its player base decline, it can join and play with players from other platforms without any issues.

Final Verdict:

Despite its many issues and bugs, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a brilliant asymmetrical survival horror game that deserves your attention. Bring your own party but even solo, this game can be a real scare-fest. If you have been playing Friday the 13th or Dead by Daylight, you will love the new The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as it is brutal, it is scary, and the gameplay mechanics are solid with atmospheric environments and a brilliant sound design. You will have to bear with the ongoing issues but once they are gone, you will have a brilliant horror survival game to spend countless hours in.

Final Score: 8.0/10

Author: Jesse Perry