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The Hunt for Authenticity in Sumo’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

When one thinks of the horror franchise that is The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the devil is in all the details. The familiar sound of the power tool revving up, the endless flow of blood and gore, and an instantly recognizable villain at the heart of it all. And for Sumo Digital Nottingham and Gun Interactive, ensuring all of that is present and enhanced in the upcoming The Texas Chain Saw Massacre multiplayer game was paramount.

“We’ve been really fortunate with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre that we’ve had heavy involvement from Kim Henkel himself, he was involved in the original film heavily. There’s a lot of characters that he’s created in the lore of the original movie, and we’ve taken those characters with him, we flesh them out, given them abilities that will match and make them balance as part of gameplay,” said Kelvin Moore, Design Director at Sumo Digital.

“It’s set a month or two, or a year before the original film, so what’s it like to be there? And that then winds its way all the way through the gameplay to the perks, the abilities,” added Darren Campion, Senior Executive Producer. The team also went on field trips out to Texas itself, taking into consideration the fauna and flora, to make sure everything fits the setting.

Hitting the Mark

As for the look, the team also went to great lengths to ensure players are getting the full terrifying experience expected of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. With lighting being “a fundamental part of the game,” it is more than just an aesthetic choice. In fact, “players, especially the victims from the beginning, start in a basement where it’s very, very dark and work their way up into a nighttime or daytime area, but they have to use that, whatever that lighting is, they have to use it to hide and use their stuff all the way through.

The same applies to the audio within the game, with Moore sharing about “the use of an instrument called the Apprehension Engine, which creates all kinds of weird and wonderful sounds that are synonymous with horror.”

“Our audio director has done wonders with building up the tension throughout the game using different kinds of instruments, different sounds, and it kind of reflects the experience that’s coming through with what he does with the orchestration of those sounds.”

Surviving the Horror

As an asymmetrical experience, players will be in a team of three versus another team of four in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, a departure from the genre norm that normally sees killers being vastly outnumbered by their potential victims. To succeed, there are various ways in which teams can come out on top, be it as the survivors or the killers.

For victims, it’s “all about being stealthy as possible, It’s not a run-around game. It’s about using stealth as much as possible, hiding in shadows doing things quietly. You can choose to do this quietly, you can choose to do things quickly, you can choose to do things loudly, but the family will know where you are. So that you do that at your own peril. So it’s all about choices. It’s all about giving the player choice as to what to do.”

On the killers’ side of things in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, it was also important to ensure balance and plenty of incentive, so that it’s not always the case of scrambling to be Leatherface. As Moore put it, “it was really rewarding to see in very early playtests that people were like, I want to be The Cook; I like being sneaky and hearing around who’s there. Other people loved playing The Hitchhiker, they love setting up those traps.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Killers

“There’s kind of two games there for some people, two different play experiences. Especially on the flip side, we’ve got the victims and they’re playing a more stealthy, less attacking game; they’ve got to sneak around and use kind of true-to-life hide-and-seek mind games if you will.”

It all points towards an exciting experience that will test players on either side of the fence. The team is currently focused on “upping the quality” throughout the game and taking feedback from testers to further improve things. “We’ve got a nice run ahead of us to make this game as polished an experience as it can be, and we want it to be and be truly something special for all the fans out there.”

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre will hit PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on August 18, 2023. T

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