While The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has had several updates and patches since its August 18th release, Gun Interactive recently implemented its first significant content update, boasting a variety of changes including new characters, a new map, and significant tweaks to gameplay. If you haven’t already picked a copy of the game up, there’s no better time to than now, and if you’ve already been playing, get ready to recalibrate your strategies, as the update provides some pretty substantial changes to the dynamic of the game across the board.
The most noteworthy aspect of the update is Nancy’s House, a brand new map that takes place at the home of the Family’s newcomer, Nancy Sawyer. As a first taste of what to expect of future maps outside of the original three, Nancy’s House is a refreshing change of pace for both The Family and the Survivors. It takes aspects of previous maps and flips them on their head; the generator now sits in the middle of the map, and turning it off now provides an optional shortcut to another area of the map (instead of leading directly to an exit). You’ll find the sliding, loud blue doors that were previously reserved exclusively as basement doors in a couple areas around the map. There’s a large garage door that both the Family and Survivors can easily open or close with the push of a button. Many fans of Texas have been calling for a new map to freshen up gameplay, and Nancy’s House delivers–it feels extremely unique compared to the previous maps, and it makes me really excited to see what future maps will be like.
The next most important aspect of the update is the two newcomers: Survivor Danny Gaines, and Family member Nancy Sawyer. It’s important to note that these two characters are paid DLC–both can be purchased separately, and are $10 each. Regardless, you’ll be encountering either of them in some capacity as you play against them, and they both have formidable abilities.
Danny Gaines is the scruffy boyfriend of Maria Flores (the initial victim outlined in the synopsis of the game)–its described that his tough upbringing has sharpened him to be intelligent and scrappy, as evidenced with his unique character ability, Study and Tamper. By examining mechanical objects and objectives spread throughout each match, Danny can fill a gauge that then allows him to tamper with exits to make them stay open for longer durations, such as the basement and pressure tank exits.
As someone who typically plays as a Survivor, I find Danny to be a double-edged sword. On one hand, he can be extremely invaluable as a teammate since his ability has such a high payout for the whole team. On the other hand, if you’re not a skilled player, you’re likely not going to be able to capitalize on his ability. The Study and Tamper gauge is difficult to fill. Not only does it fill slowly, but a lot of the mechanical objects that you need to study are typically in very dangerous areas. Radios and TVs tend to be in structures that are heavily patrolled because Grandpa may be in them, and the Family is typically guarding objectives that can also be studied (exit gates, fuses, valves). While you can mitigate this difficulty a bit by leveling the ability up (one of the later perks you can choose allows you to study objectives instantly), Danny still feels like a character better reserved for more skilled players.
On a similar note, while I do think Nancy requires a bit of skill to master, she doesn’t seem to have as much of a difficulty curve on the Family side. The adoptive mother of Johnny, she’s infamous for the death that seems to surround her, including her previous three husbands and the biological mother of Johnny as well. She’s equipped with the mysterious “Spy” ability, which allows her to periodically see through the eyes of a Survivor. Additionally, she has three barbed wire traps that she can place in doorways and crawlspaces that snare survivors and produce noise until they can pull it off.
Nancy plays like a full support Family member, landing as a cross between Cook and Hitchhiker, and is a welcome addition since there’s more rushdown-style Family members than support. She doesn’t naturally have high endurance, and she can’t enter crawlspaces like Sissy or Hitchhiker–however, her traps can be extremely handy for locking down objectives, and her Spy ability is great for identifying which objectives are being targeted. She compliments Sissy and Johnny since she can flag where they should focus their attention, but feels redundant when paired with Hitchhiker since he already has handy traps, and with Cook since he can flag Survivors with his Hear ability. As long as you’re placing her traps near objectives and flagging what you see from her Spy ability to the team, it doesn’t feel difficult to get a handle on Nancy.
While on the topic of The Family, there’s another notable update worth flagging: Leatherface is no longer necessary to start a match. Many players breathed a sigh of relief with this update–it was a common occurrence to get stuck in match lobby limbo for long stretches of time as players on the Family side would refuse to switch to Leatherface to start the match. Ironically, though, I get the feeling a lot of players may regret calling for this change. It’s now possible to have matches where no Family members are able to maneuver through crawlspaces or destroy obstacles (a team of Johnny, Nancy, and Cook), which leads to infuriating moments where Victims are able to retreat to safe spaces that none of the Family members can reach. The absence of Leatherface is glaring at times, and I get the feeling many will start having a greater appreciation for those who opt in for him on their teams now.
Despite this, I also get the impression that opening up the Family to any combination has also brought new and unique flairs to matches. A team like Nancy, Sissy, and Hitchhiker brings a deadly paradigm where the entire map can be boobytrapped, with poisoned objectives, bone traps and barbed wire crawlspaces. Johnny can also be an effective substitute for Leatherface, with his high savagery and endurance, so long as he has teammates like Sissy or Hitchhiker who can maneuver into areas he can’t reach.
All in all, as far as updates go, Gun has delivered a promising package of new content. It provides refreshing twists on the core gameplay of Texas, and reflects the fact that Gun is committed to investing in the future of the game. As someone who is approaching around 200 hours into the game, it still feels fresh in a lot of ways, and I’m excited to see what else is in store.
Nancy’s House is now live for all players, free to play, whereas Danny and Nancy are available for purchase on any platform that you play The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.