There are some incredibly creative games in the App Store, but never did we think we’d live to see the day in which a cartoony sliding blocks puzzler is mashed together with the hyper-violent Friday the 13th series of slasher movies.
Best of all? It totally works. Trust us, the hockey mask-wearing Jason Voorhees hasn’t been this much zany fun since 2001’s Jason X movie.
An idea that totally shouldn’t work
Here at Cult of Mac we love puzzle games. But, for all their positive qualities, they can be a trifle… serious at times. Like watching a documentary about the finer points of trickle-down economics, you’ll often complete a puzzle game with a sense of having done your brain some serious good, but perhaps without the emotional “punch the air” rush of endorphins reaction that other games can give you.
You’re not the only one who thinks like that, either. Jason Kapalka, co-founder of the mega successful PopCap and now “Boss Monster” at Blue Wizard Digital, faced the same problem when his team was developing a new title.
“We had a pretty solid sliding block puzzle mechanic we’d been experimenting with, but we had to admit that sliding-block puzzles are dry, cerebral, and generally tedious as hell for most people,” he told Cult of Mac. “The challenge we posed ourselves was, ‘what could you do to make a sliding block puzzle not boring?’ The idea that you were murdering people instead of pushing blocks was initially a joke, but once we tried it everyone agreed that whatever else it might be it wasn’t tedious. The murdering gives morbid, slightly guilty payoff to all the heavy thinking.”
The result of that brainwave was 2017’s Slayaway Camp, a game which combined a great puzzle mechanic with plenty of references to classic 1970s and 80s slasher movies like Prom Night and The Prowler made 2017’s Slayaway Camp a masterpiece. Now its creators have been awarded the official Jason Voorhees license, and they’ve used it to create an “unofficial sequel” to Slayaway Camp that’s more than worthy of it.
A nightmare come true
In Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle, you control Mrs. Voorhees’ hockey mask-wearing, machete-swinging baby boy — and for Kapalka it’s a dream come true.
“Obviously movies like Friday the 13th were a big influence on Slayaway Camp, so we were actually pretty excited when the rights holders approached us,” he said. “[In our game,] your goal is to help horror icon Jason Voorhees murder all the campers on each level in hideous fashion, by sliding him around on an isometric puzzle grid with various obstacles and dangers. You can murder people directly with a range of weapons, or frighten them into a bunch of environmental hazards and traps, like campfires, beartraps, [and] woodchippers.”
In some ways, Friday the 13th is little more than a re-skin of Slayaway Camp, although that certainly doesn’t make it less fun. (After all, weren’t 95 percent of golden age slasher movies basically re-skins of Halloween, Friday the 13th, or Black Friday?)
As Kapalka points out, though, there are also some neat twists on the original format, like the team’s decision to replace the exit portal in the game with the “Final Girl” (or boy) you have to dispatch to complete the stage. There’s also the addition of selectable weapons you can earn and upgrade, which are plenty of fun to experiment with.
Oh, and there an assortment of celebrity “VIP victim” cameos hidden in the game, which Kapalka says the devs will gradually be revealing.
Only available in the U.S. (for now)
If there’s one downside to Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle, it’s the fact that, right now, it’s only available in the U.S. Fortunately, it will be going global later this year. Keep watching this space. And probably with the lights on.
Offering 100+ puzzle levels, taking Jason from the campgrounds of Crystal Lake to the highrises of Manhattan, and supermax prisons to snowy ski resorts, the game is available for download for iPhone and iPad from the App Store.