After the Wii U, it’s fair to say that many publishers and developers were apprehensive of the Nintendo Switch in the run up to its launch. Now that the hybrid console is soaring, we’re seeing more of these companies flock to the system, even if their game doesn’t gel with the perceived Nintendo demographic. The number of horror games making their way onto Switch is quickly growing and this summer we’ll see an old rivalry reborn as Friday the 13th and Dead By Daylight go at it again.
For those who have absolutely no idea about Friday the 13th: The Video Game, it’s a flawed favourite for us here at TheSixthAxis. So how does it hold up on Switch?
Turning familiar locations from the slasher film franchise into virtual playgrounds, each match sees Jason try and hunt down up to seven other players as they attempt to thwart his killing spree. This is done by coordinating with other counsellors, working together to either fix cars and boats as a means of escape or calling the cops. In the latter situation, you’re forced to wait for the squad cars to arrive, using tricks and traps to stop Jason from eviscerating you.
Jason is also controlled by a player who is able to deliver punishing blows with his melee weapon, throw knives, lay bear traps, and one hit kill anyone he manages to grab. He also has a clutch of supernatural powers that will let him see where survivors are hiding, chase them at high speed, and even teleport to any point on the map. These help enshrine that slasher movie vibe, making Jason feel omnipresent and completely unstoppable.
We aren’t dissing Friday the 13th too hard when we say it isn’t a particularly polished video game. At its original launch things were way, way worse though developer Illfonic has steadily rendered some of those rough edges, squashing out bugs, glitches, and exploits. It’s still inherently janky but in truth that’s part of the charm.
Whether docked or playing Friday the 13th in handheld mode, it’s hard to notice any real difference. The same can be said of the Switch version when compared to its older PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC counterparts. Some environmental textures look incredibly basic and there’s always that initial pop-in of character model details during that pre-game cutscenes. Still, on the whole this port holds up nicely and we’ve yet to encounter any major platform-specific caveats.
Friday the 13th doesn’t benefit from any of the Switch hardware’s secondary features. There are no motion or touchscreen controls and the HD rumble is in no way dynamic, simply going into a wild spasm whenever Jason and the counsellors go blow to blow. These are minor things to note however and don’t really impact the game.
The only potential downside to playing on Switch is the loss of immersion if you happen to be playing it portably. That sheer terror from being hunted is partly nullified and best experienced on the big screen, your head couched between a beefy pair of headphones.
The only major concern we have is player count. Friday the 13th recently celebrated its second anniversary on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, the PS4 community having received a boost in numbers when it landed as a monthly freebie on PlayStation Plus.
Although there will be plenty of Nintendo Switch owners who missed this game the first time around, it’s hard to imagine players migrating from other platforms. You can launch into matches with only a few users, but it pales in comparison to that full lobby experience.
Suddenly turning up on the Switch is surprising for another reason. Last year, due to the complicated legal issues surrounding the ownership of Friday the 13th, original developer Illfonic was forced to cease all future gameplay content, effectively torching the promising roadmap it had previously laid out and meaning you shouldn’t expect to see fresh content for the Switch version either.
While stunted, there’s still plenty to hack and slash your way through, Friday the 13th proving to be one of the most unique multiplayer experiences available on any platform.