When jumping into a tech test, things can one of two ways: you get excited and want more, or you run into technical issues and you start to lose interest in the game. Tech tests can be a scary trap for a developer and a publisher, as it could lead some to bail out on a game if they don’t like what they are playing. Sure, you can label in six ways to Sunday, that it is a tech test, but it won’t matter. People will form an opinion. Just remember the dumb puddles issue with Spider man back in the day. Texas Chain Saw Massacre had their tech test, and after playing several hours of it, I feel like I am in good hands, but there are some spots that definitely need work.
If you happen to be a bit unfamiliar with the concept behind the Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the idea is simple – you have Victims and you have Family. Victims are those that have been put in the basement and need to escape, while the Family are the killers that are trying to prevent you from leaving the compound. It changes the formula a little bit from games like Friday the 13th or Dead by Daylight, because Texas Chain Saw Massacre adds two more killers to the mix, making this a 4v3 title. It is an interesting mechanic, as it allows the Family to team up against Victims, flanking them, or pinning them into a corner that they cannot escape from. More than once, I found myself hemmed up with no escape when playing against a set of quality Family members.
Of course, a tech test lets us see the stability of a game in its current state, and I can say that as of right now, Texas Chain Saw Massacre is in a good state from a mechanics standpoint. The game runs fairly smooth. I tried the Tech Test on both a base level Steam Deck with a high performance SD card, and a high end gaming laptop and it performed great on both. I did have some sound issues when I pumped out the Steam Deck to a TV, but that could have also been from my capture hardware, as I could not recreate it when the capture hardware was disconnected.
The graphics look sound, although the character model of everyone outside of Leatherface looks like they need another pass of character detail. Its not that the characters look bad in Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but I felt that they were lacking a little texture definition at this time. That is something that can be fixed with some polish on the run up to final release. I did have a few weird physics anomalies with some of the character deaths. I got killed as I was coming out of a tight squeeze area, and upon my death, my body was standing up, with the top half of my body flapping around like one of those long tube air mascots you see out in front of a gas station. And the model did not seem to disappear, as another Victim came by and I could see my flailing corpse as I spectated their feed.
There were only the same four Victims, and three killers available for one to play in Texas Chain Saw Massacre, which was a bit of a bummer. I know they announced a newly created female Family member was not in the Tech Test. I had not heard that she had been taken out of the game, so it looks like they did not make her playable right now. I also hope there are more Victims to choose from in the final version of the game as well. I mean, you will start to main certain characters as you play, but I hope their is a larger stable of characters to choose from in the final release.
I had some friends watch me play, and the biggest comment I got was the the idea of looping the killer does not seem to be a focused mechanic here. These are people coming from a Dead by Daylight background, and they love the idea of looping a killer. While I do think the mechanic exists in the current iteration of Texas Chain Saw Massacre it is not an easy thing to pull off. I did find myself able to find some looping areas for a chase, but not in the way that people would be looking for in a true loop of a killer. That said, you can go on the offensive with bone fragments that you can use against a killer when you need to get away.
The bigger sin in the current iteration of Texas Chain Saw Massacre in my opinion right now in the Tech Test is the lobby count down. I lost count how many times a game would have a full party and one person would not ready right away. This is normally not an issue in most games of this type, as you normally have a minute fuse before a game starts. But with Texas Chain Saw Massacre, you have a seven minute wait period for a game to start, and it always seemed like one person was determined to let that clock run all the way down. And with wait times that long, it was a given that you would have someone get impatient and bounce, making it a burden sometimes to match up and play. I would suggest that as soon as you have a full party, switch the clock to a 30 or 60 second countdown, which will leave clock griefers no way to ruin the experience while waiting for a match to start. I think this is a must to get games started quickly and not leaving some of us staring at a never ending clock for a game to start.
My time with Texas Chain Saw Massacre Tech Test ended on a nice positive note. After I started getting the mechanics down, I got better and nabbed myself three escapes on the next to last day. A solid feat to be certain. Like I said, the game is technically sound with some balance tweaks here and there. Lets hope we get more Victims to chose from and some polish on textures and character models. If all that happens by the August release date, I think Texas Chain Saw Massacre will be a solid hit for the genre. Texas Chain Saw Massacre will be available on Xbox, PlayStation and PC. It will be a day one release on Game Pass. The game is set for release on August 18th, 2023.