In my personal opinion, there’s one genre that needs more representation on Nintendo Switch: horror. To be fair, there are a number of great horror games for the platform (Outlast Trinity comes to mind). Yet it’s a genre that feels like it’s missing on Switch. Thankfully, over the next few months that will be rectified, and it all begins with Friday the 13th: Ultimate Slasher Edition. While not a perfect online horror game, Friday the 13th does a great job at making you always feel uneasy and stressed (at least if you’re playing as one of the counselors). Friday the 13th should be on your radar if you’re a Switch owner looking for some good scares.
As you might expect, in Friday the 13th you play as either Jason (the bad guy) or the counselors (trying to escape from Jason). As a counselor at Crystal Lake, you need to keep yourself from succumbing to fear and escape the clutches of Jason. As Jason, you need to satisfy your mother’s internal ranting by murdering everything, and I do mean everything.
As you might expect, playing as Jason in Friday the 13th is the best way to play. He might be slow to control at first, but over time you’ll gradually unlock new abilities that empower him. He also can’t die in a match, meaning that no matter what happens, you will be alive till the very end. His abilities that unlock with time can be a real game-changer. For instance, you can “Warp” across the map, enabling you to fast travel the whole map in no time at all. There’s also “Sense”, which allows Jason to sense the sounds and overall fear of the survivors left on the map. You’ll start off with an axe, but eventually you’ll unlock even more implements of death. Remarkably, just when you think you’ve seen it all, the game ups the ante with its special signature kills and even more gross environmental murders. Players controlling the counselors CAN fight back, but all that does is merely inconvenience you….slightly. When controlling a counselor, you can attempt to sneak around Jason, set traps to slow him down or simply run around screaming till he kills you.
Obviously, the real make or break of an online game is how well online works. Friday the 13th really shines online. Nothing is more fun than playing as a killing machine that can warp across the map and appear from nowhere to bury an axe in your head. Yet this level of fun is brought to the next level when playing with your friends. As they attempt to find a car battery to escape the map, it’s hilariously fun to see them freak out when the ominous music starts up, signaling Jason (i.e. your) arrival. Online works incredibly well on Nintendo Switch, and in my 25 online matches, I never once had an issue connecting to a game. If for some reason you can’t play online, the developers added an offline mode, which I can’t recommend enough. The offline mode allows you to play the game with AI bots, which helps you practice all the things you’ll need to do in a real online match (such as working out how to start a car, setting traps and disorienting Jason with firecrackers). It might seem like a small addition, but it’s one that absolutely helps you to improve your skills.
My issue with this offline mode is that the AI is pretty terrible, no matter the difficulty setting. This isn’t a major problem when playing as Jason as it’s easy to find and kill the counselors. The problem is that the A.I. is so dumb that you only really need to stand in place and the A.I. comes to you. Even worse, if you’re trying to practice being a counselor, the A.I. is so dumb that there’s no teamwork whatsoever. In fact, it’s basically you versus Jason. While I understand this is a “practice mode” of sorts, it’s disappointing I can’t adjust the settings on the A.I. so that it acts more helpful and helps me improve.
My other issue with Friday the 13th is how long it takes to play as Jason online. Let’s face it, everyone wants to play as Jason online. While the counselors are fine, going around hunting everyone down in the game has a more fun appeal. However, this takes way too long to actually happen. Each online game I played was roughly 20 minutes long (give or take). Of the 25 online matches I played for this review, I was Jason twice; that’s 2 out of 25 or 8%. While I understand I won’t be able to play as Jason every time, I feel like that number is not balanced. 8%? Look, I like Friday the 13th, but my interest in the game might go away fairly quickly if, moving forward, I only get to play as Jason 8% of the time. Maybe this was an issue during review testing (I’ll test it more when the game is out and being played more often), but it’s an issue that may turn people away from keeping up with the game.
Developer: Black Tower Studios
Publisher: Gun Media
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: August 13th, 2019