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The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Review: Another Macabre Dance

EDITORS' RATING : 7 / 10
Pros
  • Effective blend of suspense with atmospheric tension rather than relying on cheap jump-scares
  • Strikes an impressive balance between ease of entry and deeper strategic gameplay
  • Progression system allows players to tailor their experience
  • Offers a seamless cross-platform experience
Cons
  • Attack controls for various characters, especially Leatherface, feel imprecise and cumbersome
  • While the game offers an immersive horror experience, there are moments when gameplay feels predictable

A PC code was provided to Zaaz for this review. "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" will be available on August 18 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

Your breaths come fast as you hastily walk as quietly as you can. The sharp sting of pain radiates through your limbs, a grim reminder of the torture you've just endured in the Slaughter family's basement. Blood trails behind, marking your desperate path. Cornfields surround you, a deceptive shield against the haunting rev of a nearby chainsaw. Panic surges with every heartbeat echoing Leatherface's pursuit. Darting past an old shack, you lock eyes with a withered, seated old man who alerts the rest of the family of your location. Escape is crucial, but every turn is a gamble. The horrors of "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" are closing in.

With the swelling tide of asymmetric horror video games like "Dead by Daylight" and "Friday the 13th: The Game," the gaming universe welcomes another contender: "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre." Diving deep into the heart of the iconic 1974 film, it's not a perfect title, but it still effectively presents a game of cat-and-mouse that can be as terrifying as it is exhilarating.

Welcome (back) to Muerto County

From the get-go, the premise of "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" is familiar if you've played any of the aforementioned asymmetric horror titles. Players are thrust into the unsettling world of the notorious Slaughter family, or, on the flip side, into the shoes of the petrified victims trying to escape their clutches. The choice is yours: the relentless hunter or the desperate prey. Or, if you don't care which role you play, hop into a quick match to get playing as soon as possible in a randomly assigned role.

One of the game's significant wins at launch is its crossplay feature. Pairing up with friends or strangers across different gaming platforms is virtually frictionless. "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" makes sure the horrors await inside the game, not in the matchmaking lobby.

The old-school aesthetic braided into its design is like wearing a pair of retro glasses that whisk you back to the era of 1970s horror, where suspense and atmospheric tension reigned supreme. This isn't your modern jump-scare fest; it's a methodical dance of dread. Of course, jump-cares can still certainly happen if you're caught off guard.

A campy atmosphere that still chills to the bone

Despite its campy undertones, as you delve into "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre," you're instantly immersed in a realm of genuine panic, anxiety, and urgency. The game flawlessly captures the essence of vintage horror, making you feel a slow, creeping dread as opposed to all-out terror. Everywhere you turn, decaying corpses and human bones litter the landscape. Buckets brimming with blood and macabre torture devices paint a haunting picture that's hard to shake. After logging off from a late-night session, you can't help but glance over your shoulder as you head off to bed. The once-familiar corners of your home now seem cast in ominous shadows, bearing testament to the chilling atmosphere the game crafts so masterfully — especially if you're someone who's susceptible to the effect of horror movies in that way.

When it comes to the different character roles and team dynamics, the temptation to rally together and strategize is strong, especially when playing as the victims. However, it isn't always the best route. There's a delicate balance to strike. Working in a team can occasionally be a hindrance — after all, more people mean more noise and more chances to get caught. Yet, the sheer joy of orchestrating a successful ambush or team escape can be immensely satisfying.

When embodying the Slaughter family, it's delightful to coordinate with one another, whether you're hunting down victims or just looking to "feed Grandpa" as a means to locate the escaped captives. Conversely, as victims, collaboration can lead to successful escapes or diversions. Still, the lone wolf solitary player, relying solely on stealth and cunning, also finds a rewarding experience here.

Playing the part

What "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" does exceptionally well is offer players a range of character abilities without making them obligatory for success. Whether you're a seasoned player in the genre adept at utilizing special skills or a newbie just here for the frights, the game caters to both.

For the family members, the abilities are like a dark twist on superhero powers, each one aiding in the gruesome goal of capturing victims. Victims, on the other hand, have their unique "star sign" abilities, providing them with situational advantages. Yet, these are not crutches, merely tools that players can choose to use or ignore. This approach ensures that both newcomers and veterans can enjoy the game on their terms.

Unfortunately, navigating the game's attack controls often presents a surprising set of challenges. While the chaotic and non-precise swings of Leatherface's chainsaw can be chalked up to character authenticity, the feedback mechanism still falls a bit short. When a blow does land, the only real indicator is the distant scream of a victim — a jarring experience that leaves players craving a more tactile response. This imprecision isn't limited to Leatherface alone. Other characters, who by design should offer more control and precision in their attacks, suffer from similarly clunky mechanics. The game's attacking dynamics, across the board, could benefit greatly from some tightening and refinement.

Carving up a good time

"The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" serves as a gateway into the world of asymmetrical horror games, providing a more accessible and streamlined experience that makes it easier for newcomers to dip their toes into the genre. This approachable design choice might raise a few eyebrows among seasoned players, accustomed to a steeper learning curve and more intricate mechanics. However, they too can find enjoyment in this title. The game smartly integrates a progression system, which allows players to dive deep into the nuances of skill tree paths and customize their loadouts, ensuring they still face challenges and strategies to master as they level up.

Moreover, this blend of accessibility for beginners and depth for experts means "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" holds a unique position in the market. It's inclusive enough to welcome a broader audience yet intricate enough to satiate the hunger of the more experienced player. The game occasionally feels a tad predictable, and some mechanics could benefit from refinement. But these are, ultimately, minor gripes in an otherwise commendable title.

In an era where games often find themselves too niche or too generic, "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" strikes a commendable balance. It beckons horror aficionados and casual players alike, inviting them to experience the terror and thrill of the Slaughter family's pursuits, and the desperate bid for survival that ensues.

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