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“Unbalanced” Texas Chainsaw Massacre killers are no big deal, Gun says

In an exclusive interview, Gun Interactive's creative director tells PCGamesN why Texas Chainsaw Massacre game killers should "always feel deadly".

Texas Chain Saw Massacre killer balance: The cook holds his hand to his ear in TCM key art.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre game, based on the events of the classic 1974 movie, is nearly here. While classic movies and asymmetrical horror games go hand in hand, the likes of Evil Dead the Game and Ghostbusters Spirits Unleashed have failed to knock Dead by Daylight off its asymmetrical multiplayer game throne. Well, if anything can compete, we think it’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Especially since the terrifying Slaughter family killers lend themselves so perfectly to the genre. But balance isn’t everything, publisher Gun Interactive says.

Ahead of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre release date, Gun Interactive creative director Ronnie Hobbs fills us in on the game’s various maps, new victims and family members, and how The Texas Chain Saw Massacre won’t end up like Friday the 13th, another Gun game. As huge fans of the horror genre, Gun Interactive is the perfect studio to bring Leatherface to his own game, and Hobbs tells us just why he and his family suit the asymmetrical genre so well.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Slaughter family appearing in the key art for the multiplayer game.

“In Texas, there’s an entire family of killers, and that’s something a lot of other horror IPs simply can’t offer,” says Hobbs. “We constantly want to innovate and push the entire genre in new directions. This can’t be accomplished by doing the same thing over and over, or by mimicking what others might be doing in the industry. We felt the best way to accomplish this was by choosing a franchise that offered something new, something different to anything that is current on the market.”

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre game certainly does that. By putting an entire family against a team of survivors, you get an experience that other, typically 4v1 games, don’t offer. As Hobbs continues: “The Slaughter family was the perfect conduit for our multiple killers gameplay angle, which would really allow us to revolutionize the genre and push it forward.”

But with fairness being a bone of contention with all asymmetrical games, how does having three killers affect balance? In a refreshing take, Gun thinks balance isn’t actually that important, and that the killers should feel powerful.

Texas Chain Saw Massacre multiplayer and balance: The character selection screen for the Slaughter family, showing Leatherface, Cook, Hitchhiker, Johnny, and Sissy.

“Introducing multiple killers to the genre was definitely no small task,” Hobbs continues, “but the idea that they must be perfectly balanced in order for the game to feel fun and rewarding was abandoned pretty quickly. When it comes to ‘balancing’ killers, we actually have an alternative philosophy that might seem counterintuitive to traditional design – instead of decreasing stats or ability effectiveness for each Family member, we instead spend more time increasing overall Victim survivability.

“We found that if Victims can live longer, or can survive multiple encounters and prolong their play session, then having so-called ‘unbalanced’ killers wasn’t as big of a deal as it might seem. The truth is any killer, in any game, should always be unbalanced to an extent. That’s where their lethality comes from.

“We never want to take the power away from the Family, or make them seem like they aren’t in control. So while they might be outnumbered, they should always feel deadly and capable of making Victims pay for their mistakes. Our design philosophy was that it’s okay to have powerful family members, even slightly unbalanced ones, as long as the Victims had equally powerful stats, abilities, or gameplay features that could help them get away.”

Texas Chainsaw Massacre multiplayer and balance: Connie, on of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre victims, escapes from the family.

Now we’ve spent some time with the Slaughter family in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, it’s safe to say that Gun and Sumo Nottingham have outdone themselves with this revolutionary gameplay. Having great teamwork and communication is key to success in the horror game, especially on the victim side – they might be pretty sturdy, but there’s a slim chance of getting out alone when you’re down to 1v3, so Vics should try and get out together. That said, somehow, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre feels balanced and fair, and every match will surprise you.

If you’re eager to grab the thrilling horror game, you can get The Texas Chain Saw Massacre on sale right now, but if you aren’t quite sold yet, perhaps our review could help you make your mind up.