In 1974, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre changed scary movies forever, establishing the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface and his cannibalistic kin as some of the most iconic killers in the history of horror cinema. Nearly four decades later, Gun Interactive’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre allows players to step into the blood-soaked shoes of Texas’ most infamous Family and the latest batch of hapless teens and twenty-somethings they’ve invited over for dinner.
Pitting two teams against one another in a terrifying game of hide-and-seek, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is an addictive and spine-chilling experience that comes neatly wrapped in a patchwork parcel of skin and bone. While a lack of variety in its visual style and level design keeps it from reaching its full potential, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre more than makes up for it by greasing the asymmetrical survival horror multiplayer genre’s rigid gameplay formula with some much-needed fresh blood.
A Game Based on True Events – The Story
Set in 1973, the story of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre builds itself around the vanishing of a college student named Maria Flores, who suddenly went missing near Newt, Texas. After the official investigation goes cold, Maria’s younger sister Ana and four of Maria’s closest friends take it upon themselves to look into Maria’s disappearance. Unfortunately, their investigation leads them to the home of the Slaughter Family, who drag the would-be sleuths kicking and screaming into a world of horror and despair beyond their wildest nightmares.
Some Things Just Have to Be Done – The Gameplay
As a team-based survival horror game, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is divided into two styles based on the game’s playable factions; the Victims and the Family. As one of four Victims, you start every round bound and beaten in the basement of one of the many isolated properties owned by the Slaughters. Once you’ve escaped your bonds, you’ll have to use your wits to gather the materials you need to unlock one of the four exits barring your escape from the Slaughter residence before you bleed out or get caught by one of… them.
As the four Victims scramble to escape, they’ll have to contend with three members of the Family that will be hunting them down, which sets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre apart from the numerous one vs. many asymmetrical survival horror multiplayer games out there. Each of these three-person teams must always have a Leatherface, who spawns in the basement ready to dismember any teens he comes across with his trusty chainsaw. The two other members of the Slaughter Family start aboveground, where they can work towards escape-proofing the property and apply their specific brand of violent murder to any Victims who manage to escape the basement with their extremities intact.
Do You Like Head Cheese? – The Progression
Like most other asymmetrical survival horror games, each of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s core cast has strengths and weaknesses that the player can learn to master and work around. Each game’s five Victims and Family members have skills that can be upgraded through a surprisingly-deep character customization system. By investing in a specific character’s skill tree with experience points earned by playing the game, players can unlock special perks and abilities that make staying alive or hunting prey easier. With proper communication and playing, both sides can form teams that complement each member’s strong suits while covering their shortcomings. This ensures that both Victims and the Family have an equal shot at victory.
We Got Some Good Barbeque – The Visuals
As shown by their work on the tragically short-lived Friday the 13th, the devs over at Gun Interactive know how to adapt the aesthetic of a long-running horror franchise into a video game. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is drenched head-to-toe in the gritty and grounded atmosphere that made the original film and its sequels so haunting. From lonely houses decorated with human remains to crumbling farms littered with rust-coated tools, every playable area in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a love letter to its source material that pulls you into the game’s horrific world head-first.
Unfortunately, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s loyalty to the visual style of its namesake franchise is also one of the game’s few weaknesses. While the maps are as beautiful as they are frightening, they suffer from a severe lack of diversity. Although the areas themselves are well-designed and follow a strict three-tiered structure, making it easy to memorize critical landmarks, the lack of variety did start to wear on me as I leaped through the window one claustrophobic interior setpiece onto another barren patch of desert shrubland.
Vroom-Vroom – The Audio
This attention to detail also carries over into the sound design. Whether it’s the heart-stopping rev of Leatherface’s chainsaw to the terrified whispers that escape the Victims’ mouths as they try to comfort themselves and each other, every sound in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre matches the bleak tone of its source material. In a moment that will stick with me if I live to a hundred, I shivered as a gentle sound of a breeze blowing through the overgrown patch of weeds shielding me from the sight of the Slaughter’s resident hippie Sissy tickled my eardrums.
Sound also functions as one of the game’s most crucial gameplay mechanics. Everything you do in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre makes noise; as you might guess, knowing what these sounds mean is essential to victory. Thankfully, the high-audio quality made it easy for me to learn which sounds were harmless and which told me that I was about to be on the receiving end of a sharp instrument.
A Sledgehammer’s Better – The Performance
While the graphics and audio of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre deserve to be praised, I did encounter a few performance issues while my fellow reviewers and I were chasing each other around. The framerate, while solid for the most part, tended to stall like an overheated chainsaw when multiple Family members and Victims were gathered in the same place. This slowdown sometimes led to failed button inputs that kept me from escaping a Family member or catching a victim as they sprinted past me toward a newly-opened path to freedom.
The Final Verdict
Despite its faults, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a fantastic fusion of horror and fun. The presence of multiple killers and the sheer variety of skills each playable character can learn encourages players to experiment with new playstyles and strategies without making them feel like they’re being forced to do so. On top of that, the game also manages to perform the rare feat of embracing the looks and feel of its source material without using it as a crutch. With a healthy mix of mechanical depth and terrifying spectacle, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a must-play experience for horror fans.
This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game's publisher,public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.
- This article was updated on August 14th, 2023