It was just over two months ago that Gun Interactive’s Texas Chain Saw Massacre released, bringing Leatherface to life in all of his slasher glory–much like the company did in 2017 with Jason Voorhees and Friday the 13th: The Game. Now, with spooky season reaching its climax, we sat down with Gun president Wes Keltner and creative director Ronnie Hobbs to talk all things horror, adapting the iconic Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise, and how much of that series they’re allowed to play with.
When it was first announced that Gun would be publishing a Texas Chain Saw Massacre game, fans of the movies knew that, at the very least, we’d get Leatherface in the game. But there are nine films in the franchise, including sequels, reboots, and even sequels to the reboots. The latest entry in the series–Netflix’s 2022 dud Texas Chainsaw Massacre–was a sequel to the first movie, like 2018’s Halloween did with that series, dispensing of everything that followed.
When it comes to the game, though, everything but the original film is currently off the table, no matter how much we all want a Chop Top skin from the second film.
“We only have the rights to the 1974 film. That’s the deal that was brought to the table for us,” Keltner explained. “Different companies own the rights to each of the different films. So it’s not picking up the phone and saying like, ‘I’ll take one [Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2], please’ and they just send it to you. There’s multiple entities and you have to track down who has retained the title.”
That said, both Keltner and Hobbs aren’t opposed to bringing the other films in, should they be given the opportunity. What’s more, they are fans of various films in the franchise, including the often-overlooked Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 from 1986.
“The first one is serious and brutal and nearly like documentarian in how it was shot, and the second [is] more theatrical and over-the-top,” Keltner continued. “And what I mean by theatrical [is] everyone is almost a caricature of themselves. It’s far more fun. It’s tongue-in-cheek. It’s ridiculous. And it’s fun. I think, honestly, why some people kind of turn their nose up to it is because of the tone of the first one and the impact it made on cinema as a whole. If you were to say, ‘Now, how do you top that?’ And I think that’s what that whole team realized too is like, ‘We can’t do that. So let’s just do something completely different.’ And I think they checked that box.”
Keltner and Hobbs also admitted that while working on Texas Chain Saw Massacre, they fell behind on new horror movies. Instead, they focused on horror movies of the era, making sure they fully embraced all of the little details that made horror of the ’70s stand out, including even the typography used on screen, according to Keltner.
“When you work on a game for four years straight, it almost kind of dominates your current landscape and now all of a sudden you look up into about 30 horror films are out and you haven’t seen any of them,” Hobbs said.
Since the game’s release, both have attempted to catch up. Hobbs just finished Mike Flanagan’s final Netflix series, The Fall of the House of Usher, noting, “I love it and, of course, anything Mike Flanagan does is awesome.” The two also shared their love for Pearl, the recent prequel to X, starring Mia Goth.
Of course, as horror game makers, they also have a deep love for horror games. Of the titles that resonate with them the most, Hobbs and Keltner cited titles like the Amnesia series, PT, the Resident Evil franchise, and even the Subnautica games as some of their favorite video game scares. However, there’s another game that’s close to Hobbs’ heart and helps to fuel his creativity when needed.
“When I need inspiration, I’ll go play Silent Hill 2. I think Silent Hill 2 is the best horror game ever made, so I go in that direction,” he said. “I look back in time to see what they did and try to redo it in some type of way. Because you can get too modern, it can get too big, it can get too crazy. And that’s how you end up with games that are horror, [but] they turn into action because you have to continue to up the ante, so to speak.”
The Texas Chain Saw Hands-On Preview
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As examples, Hobbs points to both Pyramid Head from Silent Hill 2 and Tyrant from Resident Evil 3 as gruesome antagonists that are heavy on horror without having to be too deeply rooted in action-oriented gameplay. “To look at the old stuff and take little tiny moments–whether it’s Pyramid Head stalking you down the hallway or Tyrant from Nemesis busting through the wall–things like that that are these surprise moments, that it doesn’t take a whole lot of action to drill down the horror.”
And while Texas Chain Saw Massacre does have action elements, it never rises above the horror of what’s unfolding on screen. Instead, Gun and studio Sumo Nottingham have gone out of their way to create a vintage slasher experience.
With that, though, you can’t help but wonder about the game’s final girl, a slasher trope that will never die. Surprisingly, Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s final girl likely isn’t who you think it is.
The game introduces Ana as the leader of her group of friends, searching for a missing sister that we can all assume was murdered by Leatherface and his family of misfits. She fits the final girl trope to a tee–even her unique ability allows her to take more damage and survive it, like a true final girl would. She’s there for a reason and has a solid backstory and the will to overcome the odds and avenge her sister. However, in Hobbs’ mind, that makes her a perfect victim in the game. Don’t worry, though: She’s not the first on the chopping block. In fact, Hobbs already has his order of kills in the game figured out.
“The dudes are gonna die first. They’re too protective of the girls, and Leland’s gonna go out of his way to try to save people, Sonny’s inevitably gonna get [dragged] into that,” he explains. “So Leland’s gonna die first for just trying to be too brave. Sonny’s gonna fall behind; he’s gonna be collateral damage. And then it’s the three girls. So Connie, unfortunately, is gonna die. It’s because she’s in place too long. She’s stagnant. She’s trying to pick locks and things. And then actually Ana’s going to die and then Julie’s going to live.”
Does anyone survive a Texas Chain Saw Massacre, though? According to Hobbs, not really, adding, “[Julie] dies down the road anyway, so no one lives.”
So, if all else fails, celebrate your Halloween by booting up Texas Chainsaw Massacre trying to take out the victims in the proper order. The game is available now, including on Game Pass, and the latest DLC pack includes a Leatherfacer skin designed by horror legend Greg Nicotero.
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