The Texas Chainsaw Massacre review: Tense, raucous horror competitor revs up

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre review: Tense, raucous horror competitor revs up
Images via Sumo Digital

Written by 

Joseph Kime

Published 

28th Aug 2023 16:59

The sun beats down, unrelenting. It's a muggy day in Muerto County, and we're welcomed into the great state with the image of a rotting corpse, tethered to a mismatched collection of equally decayed limbs. Our first moments here are awash with filth and the farthest reaches of human depravity are welcomed into the frame. Welcome to Texas.

The opening moments of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre detail a crime of perhaps the most disturbing fashion fathomable, and audiences of the film in 1974 had rarely seen such unforgiving and brash horrors. The hour and a half that follow are a masterclass in stripping comfort away from an audience, presenting a twisted family of lunatics carving poor passers-by into a sickening monument to fear, all as the sun rages and debilitates.

It would be a surprise if anyone could have expected, though, that the nightmare under the Texan sun could be turned into a video game that replicates the exact horrors of the Massacre.

With direct competition with Dead by Daylight, a game that appears to have backed every other similar title into a corner, fans will likely be asking themselves one question: Will The Texas Chainsaw Massacre survive? And what will be left of it?

GGRecon Verdict

Though the game's progression system beyond its cosmetics feels archaic and vaguely pointless, when it comes to jumping into a game, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is more fun than could have been expected from it.

More detailed than Friday the 13th: The Game and more fulfilling in success than Dead by Daylight, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre might have the horror giant to contend with when it comes to long-term variety, but it holds its own incredibly well - especially for fans of the film the game is based on.

All in all, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a fantastic alternative to the other asymmetrical horror offerings out there. It doesn't entirely capture the frights of its source material, but its gameplay is infectious and tense as a thriller that you can take on with your friends.

While The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's longevity will likely be drawn into question - and only time will tell if it will stand tall in the genre six months from now -  for now, taking up the mantle of victim and family is raucous and riveting.

The game which you are about to play...

A victim in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is cornered in the basement with Leatherface, chainsaw in hand.
Click to enlarge

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre certainly looks familiar amongst the backdrop of other asymmetrical horror titles, but that doesn't mean it isn't packing surprises.

The game, rather than offering survivors the chance to be dragged back to the cold light of day, offers a simple choice - escape or die. Players will slowly haemorrhage health, and if brought down to zero by bleeding or attacking family members, it's all over.

The unforgiving nature of the game adds a very real tension to escape efforts, and it makes hiding in the overgrowth and escaping Leatherface and company all the more exhilarating. It's as a victim that the design of the game flourishes, giving players a situation of such dire desperation that they have no choice but to work as a team - and lobby depending, that teamwork will lead to soaring success.

Though it might seem too close to the patterns of DbD, the opposite is true - the predictable generator fixes are replaced with multiple means to escape each map's various areas, from picking locks to deactivating electrified cattle grids and shutting off waterways. Victims are offered a chance to take a creative avenue to escape the family, and this sheer choice works to confuse and lead the family astray.

Taking pleasure in killing

A family member in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre listens as a victim makes noise across the map.
Click to enlarge

It may seem simple to play as a family member on the opposing team - the game can't start without Leatherface after all, a foe who is loud and lumbering. Despite his brutality and effectiveness at carving up victims, he's pretty clumsy, meaning that he needs the support of his other wily family members, who all have their various abilities to keep your killing options fresh.

The more agile of the family members end up being the most played outside of the mandatory brute - but it certainly isn't easy, as victims can be pretty slippery. The game doesn't make it particularly beneficial for family members to directly chase enemies down, either.

Instead, the focus lies on gathering blood from points around the map to feed to their grandpa, who has a sonar ability that builds with gradual momentum the more blood you feed him. This is incredibly useful when tracking enemies throughout the labyrinthian basements of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - and is the greatest advantage that the family can have over the injured masses making an attempt to escape.

The Verdict

As the Texas sun sets, Leatherface roars his chainsaw overhead.
Click to enlarge

Though the game's progression system beyond its cosmetics feels archaic and vaguely pointless, when it comes to jumping into a game, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is more fun than could have been expected from it.

More detailed than Friday the 13th: The Game and more fulfilling in success than Dead by Daylight, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre might have the horror giant to contend with when it comes to long-term variety, but it holds its own incredibly well - especially for fans of the film the game is based on.

All in all, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a fantastic alternative to the other asymmetrical horror offerings out there. It doesn't entirely capture the frights of its source material, but its gameplay is infectious and tense as a thriller that you can take on with your friends.

While The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's longevity will likely be drawn into question - and only time will tell if it will stand tall in the genre six months from now -  for now, taking up the mantle of victim and family is raucous and riveting.

Maybe this won't be the last hitchhiker we pick up, after all.

3.5/5

Reviewed on Xbox. Review code provided by the publisher.

Joseph Kime is the Senior Trending News Journalist for GGRecon from Devon, UK. Before graduating from MarJon University with a degree in Journalism, he started writing music reviews for his own website before writing for the likes of FANDOM, Zavvi and The Digital Fix. He is host of the Big Screen Book Club podcast, and author of Building A Universe, a book that chronicles the history of superhero movies. His favourite games include DOOM (2016), Celeste and Pokemon Emerald.