After a gap of nearly 30 years, Friday the 13th: The Game has returned to a Nintendo console.
In the years since 1989’s NES title, we’ve recently received a fun mobile puzzle game, but nothing quite like this. Now Gun Media and Illfonic, with the help of Black Tower Studio and Nighthawk Interactive, have worked to bring the franchise’s virtual scares back to where they started.
You’re probably wondering if the port holds up. Simply put, the answer is an astounding yes. Having played the beta over two years ago and countless hours of the initial PC release, very little has been sacrificed in this version of the game.
Some textures aren’t as crisp, and pop-in is more noticeable than on PC, but in the context of what the Switch can do these aren’t huge issues. The design is still gorgeous and so much like the films that any small graphical bumps are negligible, but do keep in mind that this isn’t a remaster.
Friday the 13th: The Game plays as well as it always has, and revisiting the title on a new platform has proven how much fun can still be had. It’s an asymmetrical multiplayer game for up to 8 people, with one as Jason and the others as counselors trying desperately to escape.
He can be stunned and even killed, but the main goal is to survive via calling the police and running for it, prepping cars or boats to make your escape, or holding it out and defending yourself.
Counselors have different stats that affect everything from sanity to repair skill. Each Jason has different traits too, including the ability to run or being faster in water, as well as abilities to maneuver around the map and some kills that are specific to that incarnation.
One of the core appeals has been that each match feels like a micro version of the films, and that holds true. Looking around for supplies as a survivor when the power suddenly goes out is as terrifying as ever, and no two matches will ever be the same considering the variability of each Jason, counselor, and player.
An original score by Harry Manfredini further lends an authentic feel to the atmosphere, as does the iconic Ki-Ki-Ki, Ma-Ma-Ma when Jason is near. If playing handheld, headphones are very much necessary for the best experience considering the small built-in speakers.
While the multiplayer cannot be truly mobile, it’s great to have a game like this on a hybrid console. Voice chat is not quite as easy as on other consoles, but thanks to the presence of emotes, players can still communicate well even without it.
Playing with Joy-Con controllers isn’t as awkward as one may think, and it’s definitely worth playing handheld with one of the movies on in the background. For those who want to gather more experience as Jason, the single-player mode with counselor bots has been brought over and offers a chance to play on every map and learn the ins and outs of the franchise villain’s many forms. The first-person virtual cabin is also included, serving as a behind-the-scenes experience full of Easter eggs with many secrets to unlock.
Just like Camp Crystal Lake, Friday the 13th: The Game has its own legacy it cannot seem to get away from. Server problems have carried over into this release as well, though the review will be updated post-launch if they improve.
It’s understandable that on launch day with Nintendo’s notoriously wonky online service, there would be some issues. Only a few matches were abruptly ended when the connection timed out, though no amount of problems could keep players away. Lobbies were usually full despite the game being over two years old, which was great to see. Throughout its release history, Friday the 13th: The Game has been plagued with many bugs across all platforms, but one constant has been the effort from its developers to fix them and keep the community updated.
One can only assume the Switch release will receive the same level of care. There were no noticeable exploits by players during matches played, and nothing felt broken at launch nor was there any feeling of input lag.
You’re probably wondering if the port holds up. Simply put, the answer is an astounding yes.
The port is of the game’s “Ultimate Slasher Edition,” containing every pack of DLC that has ever been released, including alternate costumes, additional playable Jasons and counselors, and new maps. However, don’t expect any more content for the foreseeable future—the franchise rights are currently caught up in a court battle, and the developers cannot add any more content from the films. For more information look here, but we should be thankful that characters like Shelly and Fox, and the addition of the Roy Jason and newer maps, are able to remain in the game. There is so much content to unlock and play in this release, and it makes revisiting the iconic franchise on a newer system all the more worth it.
For anyone who has ever played the game before, Friday the 13th: The Game comes at a discounted price with all post-release content on a semi-handheld console. It’s worth picking up again if you don’t have all of the DLC, or if you’re a die-hard fan of the series. For newcomers, consider the above, and if you haven’t played it yet, the game is more accessible than ever before in a solid, complete package that feels like care was put into it, rather than just slapping it on the console.
It’s fun to play, looks great, and still the closest we’ll get to a new movie for a long time.