Review: Friday the 13th: The Game (Switch)

Better than its source material.

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 09/05/2019 21:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Awesome use of license; great sense of humor; enjoyable online play; great sound
Poison Mushroom for...
Offline modes aren't playable offline; graphics are a mixed bag

While Friday the 13th was never my favorite slasher franchise, I do have a certain place for the series in my heart. The Camp Crystal Lake setting made it a Sci-Fi Channel staple during my middle school summer vacations, so it’s hard not to associate the series with that time of year. As such, it seems only fitting that Friday the 13th: The Game is a late summer release on Switch. Fortunately, it’s an enjoyable way to spend the last days before the cold weather hits.

In Friday the 13th: The Game, players take on either the role of Jason Vorhees, or the camp counselors being stalked by the horror movie icon. Jason’s goal is simple: kill as many counselors as possible. Jason is every bit as powerful as he is in the films: he can travel through water with great speed, sense when counselors are nearby and even warp around the map. On top of all that, Jason is nigh-unkillable. That’s not to say the counselors are completely defenseless, however. Each of the game’s 14 counselors has their own set of strengths and weaknesses, including running speed, and stealth. Scattered throughout each of the maps are a number of defensive weapons, hiding places and methods of escape. Since Jason can only be killed under a very specific set of circumstances by one particular character, the goal for the counselors is to beat the clock or find a way to escape. It’s basically the world’s goriest version of hide-and-seek, and it’s both enjoyable and intense.

The game’s online matches can sometimes take a bit of time to get going, but things tend to run fairly smoothly once they start. I had one game come to an abrupt end, but other than that, I never encountered any obvious crashes or bugs during my time with the game. After finishing each match, players are awarded points for meeting certain criteria, including survival, wounding Jason and more. These points increase the player’s level, which unlocks various versions of Jason for players to select. The game starts with the most iconic version of the character, but there are a number of different looks based on the films.

Friday the 13th: The Game doesn’t offer a traditional single-player experience, but there are some offline options, to round out the overall package. Players can partake in the normal festivities with bots, or take on the game’s Challenges. Challenges are one of the bigger highlights in the game, tasking Jason with stalking and killing counselors in specific scenarios. This usually entails remaining unseen, allowing no counselors to escape and racking up a certain number of points throughout the challenge. Points are awarded for using the environment to kill opponents in various ways, like using a harpoon gun, or shoving their face into a pot of boiling water. There’s an undeniable sense of satisfaction that comes from killing counselors in the game. On the negative side, sometimes it’s difficult to determine exactly how to kill them. Sometimes things you think will work simply don’t.

While the online mode plays the slasher concept pretty straight, the challenges really bring the over-the-top humor the films are known for. Jason’s victims in the films are, more often than not, stoners and oversexed teenagers, and the game fully embraces that fact. In fact, some actors from the original films reprise their roles and have even lent their likenesses to the game. Given the fact that the online game can be fairly tense, the challenges are a bit of a nice respite, allowing players a chance to laugh at the violence, and breathe a little.

The game’s other offline offering is the Virtual Cabin mode. This basically acts as a museum, featuring a plethora of details about the entirety of the Friday the 13th franchise. What’s truly amazing about this is that it really shows how much care the developers had for the source material. There is a palpable reverence for the films, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say the game gave me somewhat of a greater appreciation for the franchise as a whole.

Unfortunately, there is one very frustrating issue with the game’s offline modes: they can’t actually be played offline. Players must be signed-in online to access the game’s bot mode, challenges and the Virtual Cabin. It’s a very frustrating move, given that these inclusions are fairly enjoyable. It also makes the game’s physical release feel a bit redundant, since it will essentially become little more than a tiny plastic brick once the servers inevitably go down. It’s certain to be a bummer for video game collectors and franchise fans.

The game’s graphics are also a bit of a mixed bag. Jason looks great, and the game’s brutal kills are delightful, but the camp counselor models leave a bit to be desired, and sometimes their movements in the offline modes can be a bit stilted, or buggy. Friday the 13th: The Game is by no means ugly, but it’s certainly not the prettiest. The sound, however, more than makes up for it. Harry Manfredini, who composed the music for the original Friday the 13th film, has returned for the game. It just wouldn’t be a true Friday the 13th experience without the franchise’s classic sounds, and Manfredini clearly hasn’t missed a step in the nearly 40 years since the first film’s debut.

It’s a rare thing when a licensed game can give me a greater appreciation for its source material, but Friday the 13th: The Game is a rare exception. After gaming sessions, I would often find myself switching over to the Hulu app to reacquaint myself with the films. It’s a testament to the love and passion developers Illfonic and Black Tower Studios have for the brand. There is an undeniable sense of satisfaction stepping into the shoes of Jason Vorhees, and playing as his would-be victims is also a hoot. Players looking for a substantial single-player experience will find themselves wanting, but for everyone else, Friday the 13th: The Game is a solid “B.” Given the franchise’s roots, that letter grade seems only appropriate.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Log In 0 points Log in or register to grow your Ninja Score while interacting with our site.
Nintendojo's RSS Feeds

All Updates Podcast
News Comments
Like and follow usFacebookTwitter Friend Code Exchange + Game with Us Join the Team!