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  • John Bush

Game Review #401: Friday the 13th: The Game Ultimate Slasher Edition (Nintendo Switch)

Updated: Sep 11, 2019

Reviewer: John B. Developed By: Black Tower Studios, Illfonic Published By: Gun Media Category: Action, Multiplayer, Survival Horror Release Date: 08.13.19 Price (At Time of Review): $39.99

Buy Friday the 13th: The Game Ultimate Slasher Edition from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Friday the 13th: The Game Ultimate Slasher Edition from Best Buy here.

This Camp Resident is Evil

In 1980, an American horror icon was born with the release of the original Friday the 13th film. The slasher flick would go on to spawn eleven sequels (OK, OK; some were more spinoff or reboot than sequel, gimme a break. You know what I meant), plus some novels, comics, a sort-of TV show, and two failed TV pilots. Oh, and, obviously, some video games. Which brings us to today’s game, which, if you haven’t guessed it by now, is Friday the 13th: The Game Ultimate Slasher Edition for the Nintendo Switch. It’s a survival horror version of one of those new-fangled asymmetrical multiplayer games, where one person plays as the boss and the remainder of the players have to work together to defeat them. In this case, the game can consist of as many as seven camp counselors versus one Jason. It may seem unfair, but that dude is tough to kill. Seriously, he’s the worst.

The Ultimate Stalker

We’ll start with Jason and his many, many skills. In addition to his standard machete-slashing skills (or an axe, or some hedge clippers, or a spear, or a pickaxe – anything really, really, stabby and slashy), Jason gets some pretty neat horror monster-related activated abilities. Morph gives him the ability to teleport around the map at will. Sense lets him detect other players with varying degrees of accuracy; if the counselors are out in the open, he just sees their bodies in red, but if they’re in a building, it outlines the whole building and you have to search it (but more on that in the counselor section). Stalk will get rid of the sound of your footsteps, as well as the signature music that plays whenever Jason is near – people can still see you, though. Shift gives Jason the ability to turn invisible and move very, very quickly to track down fleeing victims. Finally, rage will activate automatically when the rage gauge is full. When enraged, Jason’s abilities are much more powerful, and he can bust through even barricaded doors in one blow.

Jason has a few more nasty surprises in store for the poor campers, too. He has throwing knives he can use to slow them down, bear traps to do the same, and he can grab campers to perform unspeakable horrors on them. Jason can destroy transformers to knock out electricity to certain buildings, which makes campers more afraid and easier to find with sense. Jason can perform special kills on his victims when he grabs them which result in more experience and customization points. Leveling up unlocks new campers, new versions of Jason, and new customization options for both. Jason’s win condition is pretty simple; murder everyone. I know, seems a little uninspired, but what are you gonna do? He is a serial killer.

Playing as Jason is a ton of fun, for the most part. He’s really tough to kill, which allows you to be forgiven for some mistakes. Problem is, there’s only one person on your team, so it can be a little lonely. Or, more importantly, if you start to fall behind there’s no one to pick up the slack. But I guess if you love multiplayer games but hate teamwork, that’s a non-issue. Jason’s signature super-slow walk is a bit annoying, honestly, as it takes forever to get anywhere. And if the counselors are out of range of his sense ability, it can be frustrating to find someone to slash. You can use morph to move around faster, but I’d recommend holding off on using shift until you’re actually in pursuit. The recharge on his abilities is quick, but not instant, so shift especially is one to hold onto.

Prey or Predator?

Whereas Jason feels powerful, if not kind of slow, the counselors play just a little faster but they’re fragile as heck. I mean you can take a few hits before you go down, but not many – and if Jason grabs you? Forget about it – you’re done. Your main strategy is just to run, hide, and wait out the clock. If you’re a little braver, though, you have a couple of other options. First, you can try to get a phone working and call the cops. Once they arrive, you can run toward them for an automatic escape. Second, you can try to repair a car and drive it out of the camp. Or, if you’re really brave, you can grab a weapon and go mano-a-mano with your hockey-mask-clad tormentor, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

If you do get found by Jason, you do have some options. You can just frickin’ run for it, which is never a bad call. He might shift in front of you and finish you off anyway, but hey, you tried. If you try zigzagging you might get away. There are some items you can use as a distraction, like radios and firecrackers; firecrackers and flare guns will even stun Jason temporarily, allowing you more time to run and hide. If you do get caught by Jason, it’s basically a death sentence – unless you have a pocket knife, which is the game’s version of a 1-up. You jab it into Jason’s neck, stunning him for a few seconds and giving you some precious time to run away.

Camp counselors are primarily found through their fear levels; Jason can apparently sense fear, and that is what he’s looking for when he uses his sense ability. Fear grows when Jason is near, when a camper is alone, or when the camper is somewhere dark. Staying in groups in well-lit areas reduces fear and makes you harder to find – except for the fact that you’re in a group in a highly visible area of light, which can also make you easier to find. Campers can also repair equipment Jason has destroyed by playing a mini-game; doing so also reduces fear. Personally, I actually preferred being a counselor to being Jason. I like the support having a team provides, and hiding is a lot easier than seeking. Plus, I didn’t have to do the slow, scary walk Jason does all the time. Seriously, man, take up jogging or something.

Fashionably Dead

So the basic game is solid, but it can get kind of stale to just do the same thing with the same characters round after round after round. That’s where the game’s customization options come in. They’re not perfect, but they do add some variety to the gameplay and can change strategies for the game’s various maps (which are all locations from the first five Friday the 13th movies). Counselors can unlock new clothing options whenever you level up, which is cool, but merely a cosmetic change. Perks are the interesting part of the equation; you can spend a certain amount of customization points to randomly generate a new attribute for your counselor. Perks are graded in six different levels, with the lower levels having drawbacks as well as bonuses, which makes for some interesting choices in terms of your loadout. Do you reduce your run speed to get a bonus to your repair speed? Do you increase your resistance to fear in exchange for a loss somewhere else? It’s a neat addition to the game that adds a little depth to your strategy.

Jason has some customization as well. You can unlock different Jasons from, again, the first five movies, and each one has a different main weapon, ranging from the signature machete to a pair of gardening shears. Each Jason also has a set of gruesome custom finishing moves related to their main weapon that you can purchase with customization points, as well as some standard moves that can be purchased for any version. There are different skins for each Jason, but those all unlocked via leveling up, not with customization points. They’re mainly just bloody versions of the regular costume, anyway, but hey, new skins are new skins.

Kill Your Friends, Or Kill Some Bots

When the game originally released a few years ago, Friday the 13th: The Game was multiplayer only. While the game was really created to work best that way (and, really, it does), there was some outcry over the lack of single-player options. The devs went to work fixing that and came up with two and a half solutions. The first is a bot mode, where you always play as Jason against up to seven bot counselors, which is pretty fun and is a good way to grind out some levels if you don’t want to look like a n00b online. They also introduced a challenge mode, which plays out like a creepier Assassin’s Creed mission. There are teenagers who aren’t dead, and you have to make them dead without alerting anyone before you’ve finished. Even if you alert them, you still have a chance to catch them before they get away, but it’s easier if you’re sneaky. There are optional objectives for you to reach that will reward you with customization points if you complete them, but challenge mode doesn’t reward you with any experience points. Both modes are a lot of fun, if only because you can take the game at your own pace instead of having to deal with “other players” and their agendas.

Virtual Cabin

So those are the two full ideas for a single player mode, but the half-idea I mentioned is probably the coolest one. The game’s Virtual Cabin is a really cool idea; it’s like a museum for the creation of the game and history of the movies. You walk into the cabin and you can interact with various virtual props from the game, which will reveal a short text block containing either a snippet of history about the franchise or a fun anecdote from either the creation of the games or movies. It truly proves that this game was made by fans, for fans, and that goes a long way in my book. I mean, I’m not the world’s biggest horror fan, but I always admire the accomplishments of a truly determined fanbase.

Ki Ki Ki, Ma Ma Ma

Graphically, the game is fine. It’s not amazing, and honestly, the screenshots and gameplay videos I’ve seen of the game on other consoles or PC look better than what is on display on the Switch. I don’t mean to make it sound like it looks terrible or anything, just a little underwhelming when compared to its counterparts. Breath of the Wild proved that the Switch can handle big budget graphics, so it’s a little frustrating to see a game lose out a little in the graphical quality department. The good news is that the game is really, really dark, so that covers up a lot of the loss of detail. Or, at least it covers things up enough that you really won’t notice it unless you’re actually looking for it, like, say, a pesky, oversensitive reviewer might be. For longtime fans of the series, don’t worry: you’ll still see gallons of blood and lots of other anatomically questionable eviscerations, just at a slightly lower resolution than you’d get on the PC.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the game’s absolutely ridiculously good soundtrack. Friday the 13th: The Game is scored by Harry Manfredi, who composed the soundtrack for the original film, so the audio track perfectly captures the atmosphere of the films. Jason’s signature sound is omnipresent, to the point where it even serves as the cue to let counselors know that Jason has found them (fun fact for movie buffs: the sound is “ki ki ki, ma ma ma”, not the “ch ch ch, ah ah ah” I hear most people using. Learned that in the Virtual Cabin). Add in the gruesome, squishy noises that accompany the series’ signature slashing sequences, and you have a great auditory experience from top to bottom.

Jason Goes to Recap: The Final Section

Friday the 13th: The Game Ultimate Slasher Edition has a lot of really good things going for it. The multiplayer is unique and fun, while staying true to the core values of the movie series that spawned it (you know, gory dismemberment and scantily clad teenage girls). It has a number of game modes that provide different types of challenges, which can keep the game from getting too stale. I mean, the real meat of the game will always be multiplayer, but the challenge mode levels are a heck of a lot of fun, too. The only complaint I really have is that there are only ten challenge levels, but DLC can fix that pretty easily, right? I mean, sure, the game isn’t as pretty as it looks elsewhere, but the soundtrack is so perfect it almost doesn’t matter what the game looks like. It still sounds scary as heck. I’m generally not the world’s biggest fan of multiplayer-focused games, but for this one, I’ll carve out a jagged, bloody exception to that rule.


Buy Friday the 13th: The Game Ultimate Slasher Edition from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Friday the 13th: The Game Ultimate Slasher Edition from Best Buy here.

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