The Texas Chain Saw Massacre game cover art
Image via Gun Interactive

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Review: Who Will Survive?

Passion for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre IP meets exciting multiplayer game design.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre showcases Gun Interactive taking another stab at asymmetrical horror six years after Friday the 13th: The Game. With many of the same hands involved in its conception, the teams at Gun Interactive and Sumo Nottingham have crafted one of the better experiences in the subgenre. It’s one with a clear reverence for the 1974 horror classic that sets itself apart in a sea of asymmetrical multiplayer.

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The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Review: Who Will Survive?

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The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s basic structure takes the form of online matches comprised of three killers (the Sawyer family) and four victims. The victims are tasked with escaping the premises of either the slaughterhouse, family house, or gas station. Meanwhile, the family must find and kill each victim before they can reach safety. This simple premise works by ensuring both sides always have a clear goal even if they don’t yet understand the more involved systems, such as the expansive skill trees that encourage trial and error through consequence-free respeccing.

Unfortunately for the victims, escape is never as easy as leisurely strolling through the front exit. Every map has four possible escape routes, consisting of three on the surface, along with one basement exit across every map. Two of these escape routes require more involved planning than the main exits, such as finding a valve to unlock a pressure door or a fuse to turn on a fuse box. With four potential exit points for each player and only three killers running around, it’s impossible to cover all bases at once.

This gets to the heart of one of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s greatest game design triumphs —Balancing. For full transparency, the review process didn’t 100% represent the consumer experience. With only so many pre-launch users and queueable matchmaking periods, a proper meta wasn’t going to form. Despite this, my roughly 16 hours of playtime never made me feel cheated. Sumo Nottingham managed to create menacing killers that instill fear and anxiety, fulfilling a power fantasy for those players without being overpowered.

By the same token, victims manage a careful balancing act between fragility, helplessness, and empowerment. Along with the additional number, victims are armed with enough tools and escape routes to keep morale up. There’s always another way out if plan A or B or C didn’t work out.

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The Texas Chain Saw Massacre also makes use of a unique mechanic through its implementation of the family’s grandfather. Grandpa begins each match asleep, awaking after one of the doors toward the surface has opened. Upon waking up, Grandpa lets out a blood-curdling scream that detects moving victims. If they take their time in the basement, the family can speed up Grandpa’s awakening by feeding him enough blood to level him up. His sonar-like scream activates at each level with a max-level Grandpa unleashing periodic screams that detect all victims even while stationary. This mechanic simultaneously adds an extra time-sensitive pressure to the victims while alleviating some of the imbalance innate to the lopsided team sizes and escape routes.

The blood used to strengthen Grandpa is gathered through two means. In addition to the blood bags scattered around each map, killers also gain blood for each successful strike and/or kill on a victim. This encourages the family to actively seek out their prey rather than playing passively until Grandpa maxes out through blood bags exclusively.

Because active engagement is rewarded even if it doesn’t result in death, victims will likely spend plenty of time running, sneaking, or hiding by the skin of their teeth. Luckily for them, none of the individual killers have the same range of mobility. This leads to many clutch escapes that feel equal parts vindicating and frustrating, depending on which end you find yourself in. Victims even have exclusive access to quick get-out-of-jail-free cards in the form of wells. Scattered along each map’s surface, victims can jump down wells for a convenient regroup or reroute.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s map design and structure lead to some of the most cinematic moments in modern online gaming. Dull matches are an exception rather than the rule. While I experienced plenty of exciting moments, one match in particular sticks out.

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I quickly found my way out of the family house’s basement, following the stairs that led to the main hall. Upon reaching the top of the steps, an unsettling hum caught my attention. A slight camera swivel highlighted a deranged killer roaming the first floor. After Sissy left the area, I crouched toward the front door only to have my lockpicking minigame interrupted by the sound of footsteps. I ran upstairs and found a random bedroom, turning off the lamp and crouching behind a desk.

The Hitchhiker slammed the door open moments later. He checked the closest, completely oblivious to the potential hiding spot near the end of the room. After a sigh of relief, I left the room and noticed a menacing figure through a second-floor window. It was Leatherface locking a gate in the backyard. I screamed and ran downstairs, hoping he didn’t notice me.

After unlocking the front door, I hid in some bushes lining the house. I remained stationary as the opposing team brushed past me without noticing. That’s when my teammate decided to turn off the generator that wiped the electrical grid, opening the path toward the main road exit. The crazed Cook took notice of the outage and roamed the field, waiting for somebody to make a move.

At this point, my teammate and I coordinated our plan of attack, his body inching forward in another set of bushes across from me as if out of a spy film. That’s when I decided to stand up and expose my whereabouts. Just as he tried taking a stab at me, my teammate jump out of the shadows and shoulder charged the Cook, leaving him stunned. We were then able to make it toward the main road exit while the Cook tried and failed to catch up.  

These are the types of player-driven narratives that stick with you long after you’ve put the controller down or the servers have been shut off in a decade or so. It legitimately feels like playing an interactive version of a horror film. Moments like these are so enthralling because of the game’s visual and audio design. The meticulous attention to detail even extends to something as seemingly random as a single dead armadillo lying on the road on its back.

It’s clear that special care was placed in ensuring that players feel a sense of place. Audio design is also impeccable, with proper locational audio being integral to success. From the revving of Leatherface’s chainsaw to eery footsteps in nearby rooms, you always get a general sense of each threat’s direction and distance. It’s simultaneously unnerving and empowering.

Image via Gun Media

For all of its successes, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s release raises a few red flags. For starters, all of the victim’s unlockable costumes are merely reskins of the starting outfit. Not a single victim sees entirely new threads, with the family faring even worse. Leatherface is also the only killer with any unlockable cosmetics. This amounts to a whopping total of three outfits, including his starting costume. Furthermore, while the kills are highly cinematic, every family member can only access two executions. In a questionable move, a third execution can only be purchased for each killer with real-world money.

None of this sounds awful in isolation, but it stacks up when paired with the paltry number of maps. As mentioned earlier, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre only features three maps with two time-of-day variants for each. While the change in visibility certainly lends a different feeling and approach to familiar locations, it’s still not enough at the end of the day. It’s especially worrisome considering the current lack of post-launch plans. The amount of launch-day content makes it feel like an Early Access title.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre‘s technical underpinnings are another minor point of contention. Many PC users mentioned consistently reproducible framerate drops when attacking and killing victims. While the Xbox Series X version ran at a solid 60 frames per second from my experience, it’s still not ideal. Notably, image quality is murkier than it should be.

One look at the PC system requirements showcases that this game is unusually demanding for its technical complexity. Considering its rendering features and asset quality remain firmly rooted in last-gen territory, the state of image quality on console and performance on PC is a mystery. Such a lovingly crafted love letter to such an iconic film deserves a more pristine presentation.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre — The Bottom Line

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  • Balanced gameplay between victims and killers.
  • Painstaking attention to detail.
  • Excellent audio design.


  • Startling lack of content.
  • Not the most visually or technically competent game.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a triumphant asymmetrical horror experience. It delivers ample amounts of tension and emergent gameplay moments while feeling reasonably balanced for either victims or the family. The developers’ passion oozes through every crevice, resulting in an unforgettable multiplayer game that’s as exciting to play as it must have been to work on for such hardcore fans of the genre and the original 1974 film. As long as Sumo Nottingham can address its content scarcity and technical makeup within a reasonable amount of time, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has plenty of staying power.  

[Note: Gun Media provided the Xbox Series X copy of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre used for this review.]

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Review: Who Will Survive?
Passion for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre IP meets exciting multiplayer game design.

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David Restrepo
David is an avid brownie fanatic that has written for sites like GameSkinny, TechRaptor, and Tom's Guide. He loves almost every genre that exists, but RPG's and action games are his comfort place.