Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle

Having just celebrated a rare Friday the 13th last week, I was tempted to revisit the iconic horror slasher franchise of the same name. But rather than binge watch every Friday the 13th film (even the glorious and underrated Jason Takes Manhattan and Jason X), I decided to dig a little deeper and play what I consider to be a surprisingly good game based on the license. That game is Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle, and it’s a bizarre little thing that simply exists and, for what it’s worth, works pretty well.

Prior to releasing Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle, developer Blue Wizard Digital made a game titled Slayaway Camp. The game, its title a reference to ‘80s whodunit slasher Sleepaway Camp, was loaded with horror movie references and parodies. It was clear just by looking at it that Blue Wizard Digital had an adulation for all things ‘80s slasher. That love for the slashics is probably why Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle works so well, in terms of both mechanics and presentation.

The ill-fated Friday the 13th: The Game was pretty neat because it let you experience a hands-on experience on par with the movies. This quaint little sliding puzzler, on the other hand, hits different, but it still leans into the bloody, gory themes of the franchise.

Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle - Camp Crystal Lake

In Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle, you take on the role of Jason Voorhees. As you might expect, your goal is to maim and dismember camp counselors, teenagers, cops, and anyone who gets in your way. Except kitty cats — there’s no animal cruelty here, so Jason won’t be killing innocent little fur critters.

The gameplay is simple and to the point. You move Jason around small, isometric spaces. Because this is a sliding puzzle game, you’re not allowed to roam freely around the levels. Instead, you slide Jason through stages and maneuver around obstacles, traps, and blocked paths to get to those pesky teens. Though it’s hardly ever too difficult, some of the puzzles can be tough to figure out, especially when you’ve got a limited number of moves.

The coolest thing about Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle is how it mixes chibi-like character designs with all of the in-your-face blood and guts the movies are known for. You’ll rip heads off torsos. You’ll slice victims in half. You’ll bludgeon counselors to death. If they’re stubborn and just don’t want to die, you’ll hack away at them after you bludgeon them. It’s visceral in a fun, cartoony way.

Of course, all of these moments of blissful torture occur in cutscene form. The last kill of each stage prompts a context-sensitive button command screen to appear, but otherwise, you’ll be triggering automatic 10-second sequences when you successfully trap your prey.

Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle Jason Vorhees

Any fan of the series will tell you just how important Mrs. Voorhees, Jason’s mom, is to the lore. Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle leans into this even more than most of the movies after the first one. While playing, you’ll see the severed head of Pamela Voorhees at the top left of the screen. She’s there to give her baby boy tips if he needs them, but even if you don’t employ the game’s hint system, she’ll frequently chime in and talk to you. Nothing like a mother’s love for her zombified, murderous boy, right?

Whenever you kill the last victim in each stage, some pretty great music will start playing. Oddly, however, it’s not the violin-heavy, Psycho-esque theme music from the Friday the 13th films. Instead, it’s a loud, chaotic composition that sounds a lot like something you’d hear in the Scream movies whenever the killer is giving chase. Seriously, the resemblance to the Scream series’ music is uncanny, and it’s kind of weird, even if these themes are pretty awesome.

Admittedly, Slayaway Camp is the superior horror puzzler, as it has better stages and packs in loads of rad references to both the slasher genre and ‘80s culture in general. Still, Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle is, for all intents and purposes, a fun time with plenty of fan service. So if Friday the 13th: The Game isn’t doing it for you these days, Killer Puzzle is definitely worth a look.

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