We Got A Sneak Peek of ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Game’ And This Is What We Thought
“The following is an account of a pre-release launch party that befell a group of influencers, journalists, and gamers on June 17th, 2023. For them, an idyllic summer afternoon became a convention packed with horror icons and slasher-themed cocktails. The events of that day were to lead to the discovery of one of the most terrifying games in the annals of American history: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.”
Leatherface and his clan of cannibalistic BBQ enthusiasts are set to slash their way into gaming consoles across the nation with the eagerly-awaited Texas Chain Saw Massacre game. Described as “an asymmetrical horror experience based on the groundbreaking and iconic 1974 horror film,” players can either be one of five hellbillies or one of their five would-be victims, each with their own unique skills and playable attributes.
Published by Gun Interactive, the same folks who brought Jason Voorhees to the PS4 with Friday the 13th: The Game, and from developers Sumo Nottingham, the developers hosted a pre-release launch party, inviting a host of influencers, journalists, and streamers to an exclusive event that not only featured a playable demo of the upcoming game but also included a day of festivities that ranged from celebrity meet-and-greets to free barbeque (beef, not human).
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The event was held out in Austin, Texas, where invitees were first greeted by the site of an exact replica of Sally Hardesty’s van, right down to the blood mark that was graffitied on by The Hitchhiker. Then, once you passed the Chainsaw-Wood Shop station, you entered through the front door into a venue space that was packed with gaming booths, food and drink stations, and ¼ scaled model of the Sawyer household. I had the privilege of stepping inside, and the only thing that could’ve made it feel even more accurate would be to have a ¼-scaled Leatherface pop out from behind a door. There was, however, a rusty chainsaw that many fans used for photo ops. Every couple of minutes, someone came charging out of the front door to imitate Leatherface’s iconic dance that closed the original flick.
Once I got my free BBQ and drink (my personal favorite was their whiskey cocktail, “The Old Man”), I met many of the voice-over actors from the game, which included Titans of Terror like Kane Hodder. Now he gets to add Leatherface to his resume after having played Jason Voorhees and Victor Crowley. Other stars included Scout Taylor-Compton from Rob Zombie’s Halloween duology, who not only voiced the character of “Julie” but also provided the motion capture for all the female characters of the game. So she’s gotten to go from playing a final girl in Laurie Strode to being a slasher villain herself. I also got to unironically tell Damien Maffei, who plays Johnny, that he “looks like the guy from Strangers: Prey at Night.” He very politely pointed out that he was the guy from Strangers: Prey at Night.
The attendees also included franchise alum like David Blue Garcia, director of Netflix’s recent Texas Chain Saw Massacre flick, and none other than The Hitchhiker himself, Edwin Neal. Having reprised his role for the game, Edwin was more than happy to reminisce about the original movie’s production. I was also glad to see that he recovered so from getting run over by that semi-truck.
The game’s developers were also there, like composer Ross Tregenza of Cyberpunk 2077 fame. He took his role so seriously in perfecting the game’s soundscape that he went through 150 takes in order to get the chainsaw sound FX just right.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the true showstoppers of the evening: MuppetFace. One of Sumo’s developers commemorated the pre-release of the game with his very own puppet Leatherface, complete with a foam chainsaw. I can’t help but think that the world needs a Muppet remake of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, stat.
After seeing the sights and mingling with the creative team, I was dying to play the game itself (pun very much intended). I was able to play a round as “Sissy,” a new addition to the Sawyer family and an original character to the game. Armed with a razor blade and poisonous gas, I was thrust into the middle of a cat-and-mouse game where Sissy, Drayden Sawyer, and Bubba himself chased down their group of victims.
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As far as I can speak to the quality of the game, it was as much a genuine addition to the Texas Chain Saw Massacre mythos as it was a tense and immersive survival game. Our round took place on the Sawyer farm, which has been fully realized into an expansive universe. The graphics were rich in gory detail, and I spent as much time admiring all the spilled guts on the floor of Leatherface’s lair as I did chasing around my victim. Which probably explains why I didn’t snag a kill. I also made my way through the farm outback, running past an old rusted pickup before crawling back into the cavernous basement that was essentially a labyrinth of brick-and-mortar. Blood dripped everywhere, and bones hung from the ceilings. But you better not run through them, because that’s how you alert your victims to your presence.
The gameplay was intuitive even for a novice like myself, though it took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that poisonous gas was one of my weapons. While I look forward to playing Leatherface, who comes with a harrowing growl provided by Kane Hodder, it was also a rewarding experience to play Sissy. Much of the cat-and-mouse game involved sneaking about and crawling through slits in the rotting walls. Then again, you’ll come across obstacles, like tables and stumps, that only Leatherface can decimate with his chainsaw. So there’s not a boring option as far as your avatar goes.
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Like I said, I wasn’t able to nab anyone. But my participation wasn’t for nothing. I was able to feed Grandpa blood whenever he would start to get hungry. I was more inclined to play caregiver because, even though I’ve been practically raised on this franchise, I’m such an unsophisticated gamer that playing hide-and-seek in this never-ending maze of terror was giving me the creeps. Playing one of the killers didn’t stop me from getting startled by the occasional jumpscare. Not to mention that one of the victims got the drop on me down in the basement, and I could only respond by blindly swinging around my razor like I was Michael Myers at the end of Halloween II.
Then, when it was time for us Texas Chain Saw Massacre fanatics to head out, we were granted a goodie bag of merch that ranged from t-shirts to lapels. The highlight was easily being given my very own “Nugget.” Who’s Nugget? A chicken that clucks throughout the game, alerting us to intruders and escapees. This Nugget was a stuffed animal with a free game pass tied around his ankle. He’s disarmingly cute, and as of my writing this, Nugget is still sitting on my shelf right now.
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Hopefully, this doesn’t sound like the free drinks talking, but this event wasn’t just a launch party for one of the most anticipated games in horror. It was a celebration for nearly 50 years of one of the most consequential, and controversial, flicks in movie history. While the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre gave viewers a keyhole view into the cadaver-clad clownhouse of the Sawyer residence, the designers here are giving players the opportunity to travel through the hillbilly hellscape themselves. If they dare.
I can tell you that I’ll be pre-ordering my game, and I plan to bug the hell out of my friends to hop on the multiplayer with me once it’s been released. Though I suspect that I won’t stand a chance against them.
Still, I’m most grateful for this upcoming game because even in just one round, it gave me a thrill that I never thought I would get to experience as a Texas Chain Saw Massacre purist. Between the addition of original characters and the deep dive into the original film’s iconic environments, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Game felt more like a direct sequel to the original than any of the subsequent canon. And I can’t wait to revisit this macabre multiplayer once it’s released to the public. Maybe next time, I’ll get to kill some folks instead of just feeding Grandpa all night.
Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Game is available for pre-order and will be released on August 18th, 2023. It will be coming to PC, PS4, PS5, and Xbox series consoles.