Jason Takes Nintendo
Following a successful launch on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2017, Friday the 13th: Ultimate Slasher Edition is now available on the Switch, allowing owners of Nintendo’s hybrid console a chance to experience Gun Media and Illfonic’s grisly asymmetrical multiplayer game based on the iconic horror franchise. And thankfully, despite the Switch’s distinct lack of horsepower compared to the other platforms, it’s made the transition surprisingly intact (unlike so many hapless camp counselors) delivering all of the terrifying gameplay of its console and PC cousins alongside all of the game’s previously released DLC including fresh maps, characters, and gory new kills along with the ability to take the massacre on the go.
Make Mommy Proud, Jason
Friday The 13th: Ultimate Slasher Edition puts up to seven players in the role of counselors as they attempt to elude a player-controlled Jason Vorhees, much like Behaviour Interactictive’s Dead By Daylight. As counselors, the goal of the game is simple: survive until the timer runs out or escape the campground before Jason butchers them one by one. Sounds simple, right? Well, not so much. To do so, players will need to work together to achieve several conditions before they can flee Jason’s bloody rampage. For example, to escape by car, first you’ll need to find a car battery, keys, and gasoline to get it running. Or, if you want to take the nautical approach, you can find a propellor and gas and commandeer a speedboat instead.
If you’re not the fleeing type and want to give Jason a taste of his own medicine, you can do that too. But you’re going to need to work for it. To kill Jason, you’ll need to follow a specific ritual to the letter as multiple characters coordinate their attack. Trust me when I say this method is much easier said than done.
No matter what method you choose, the odds are seldom in your favor. That’s because the maps are quite large with plenty of cabins to explore, so scouring them for the necessary items to escape can take some time. Unlucky for the survivors, the longer the match goes on, the stronger Jason becomes. Eventually, he’ll be able to teleport across the map, sense which buildings have survivors in them, and bust through walls like a murderous Kool-Aid Man to get to his prey. This steady buildup of Jason’s abilities does a great job of building tension as each match progresses and keeping the counselors on edge.
When playing as a counselor, it’s almost always best to keep as far away from Jason as possible to avoid a horrible death. But that’s not to say you’re completely screwed if the big guy gets you cornered. Weapons, such as baseball bats and wrenches, or precious single-shot rifles can be used to stagger Jason, buying you valuable time to escape. Additionally, you can use flare guns and bear traps to either blind or restrain him momentarily in a pinch. But you won’t want to rely too heavily on them. Jason can take quite a beating. And skilled players will use his myriad abilities such as throwing knives, traps, and more to get the upper hand and move in for the kill.
Communication is critical when playing as councilors, considering the various objectives you have to complete. And given the Switch’s admittedly less than ideal chat system that makes use of the Nintendo Online App, I had my worries going into this review. Thankfully, these worries were unjustified, as it turns out the game is one of the few titles that doesn’t require Nintendo’s proprietary voice chat system. Just plug your headset into your Switch, and you’re good to go. Hats off to the folks at Illfonic and Gun Media for implementing this feature and giving the players fewer hoops to jump through before diving into the online action. Here’s hoping more developers handle Switch releases similarly in the future.
If you’re opposed to online play, then Friday the 13th: Ultimate Slasher Edition probably isn’t for you. However, that’s not to say it doesn’t offer any entertainment for solo players. The game supports offline play where you play as either Jason or Counsellors with a group of AI bots. It’s perfectly serviceable, but certainly no replacement for playing with an actual group of humans. However, it does serve as a handy tool for learning the ropes and mastering all of Jason’s various abilities before diving into the game’s online component. In addition to solo matches, it also includes the very cool Virtual Cabin mode. In it, players explore a puzzle-filled lodge that’s teeming with Easter eggs and hidden bits of fanservice that franchise devotees should appreciate.
Oh, the horror
While it’s certainly impressive to see Friday The 13th on the Switch, you’re probably wondering what sacrifices had to be made to get it there. The most notable change, perhaps unsurprisingly, is that the graphics have received a pretty considerable downgrade when compared to the PS4, Xbox One, and PC versions of the game. The textures in both the environments and character models are very chunky and lack detail, which can make some of the well-lit interior environments a bit hard to look occasionally. Objects like trees and furniture are rudimentarily rendered and look ripped straight from the PS2 era. But honestly, once you get into the action, the core gameplay is so satisfying that it’s pretty to overlook the visual shortcomings, as glaring as they are.
What’s harder to overlook is the server issues that manage to crop up a bit too frequently. During my time with the game, I encountered my fair share of instances that resulted in things like not being able to interact with objects in the environment. Or, worse still, the session would crash outright. Thankfully, this didn’t happen enough to keep me from coming back for more time and time again. But it’s pretty annoying, especially when it happens when you finally get the chance to take control of Jason himself, which is a bit of a rarity.
Hopefully, the developers will be able to iron out the server kinks eventually, because when everything is working as it should, Friday the 13th: The Game is immensely satisfying.
Friday The 13th: Ultimate Slasher Edition is a bloody good time
Despite the uneven visuals and occasional network problems, Friday The 13th: Ultimate Slasher Edition on the Switch still manages to deliver the goods like a machete to the skull with the wealth of content crammed into this cart and its tense and exhilarating moment to moment gameplay. Still, if you want the best-looking and performing console version of the game, then you’ll probably want to pick up the PS4 or Xbox One version if that’s an option, though I’d argue the ability to play the game in handheld mode is a very welcome tradeoff. If you’ve had your fill of Dead By Daylight and are dying for another multiplayer-centric bloodbath to scratch that slasher versus survivors itch, then look no further.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: Switch (Reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC ; Publisher: Gun Media ; Developer: Gun Media, Illfonic ; Players: 1-8 (Online) ; Released: August 13, 2019 ; ESRB: M for Mature ; MSRP: $39.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a retail copy of Friday The 13th: Ultimate Slasher Edition given to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.