Friday the 13th: The Game is a survival horror video game developed by IllFonic, first released in 2017 for the PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and has now ported to the Nintendo Switch. It plays similarly in theme to Dead by Daylight, with an almost identical premise. Although the port to the Switch performs adequately, the timing of the port is unfortunate in relation to another game coming in September.
What Is Friday The 13th: The Game?
Players take on the role of Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th series of horror films, while up to seven other players take on the role of camp counselors. Jason’s sole objective is to kill each of these players, and they meanwhile attempt to survive by waiting out the timer of twenty minutes, escaping by use of a vehicle, being rescued by police, or by having Thomas “Tommy” Jarvis, a protagonist from some of the films, arrive with a shotgun to save the day.
To accomplish his task, Jason has numerous supernatural abilities, which allow him to teleport to any place on the map in an instant, or to stalk his prey unseen until it is too late. All DLC made for the game since its release in 2017 has been included in the Switch port, which consists of counselors, cosmetics, and maps.
Comparison Of The Port To The Console Version
In general, the graphics are good, not great. It appears that in creating this port, a similar process was used that we have seen in the recent release of God Eater 3: there have been some clear graphical downgrades to ensure a smooth and consistent framerate. This appears to be the norm on the Switch now and is considered preferable to framerate loss.
With that said, the 2017 release was already bland and uninspired in terms of graphics. This becomes more apparent on the Switch.
The controls feel identical to its PlayStation 4 counterpart when using an 8BidDo sn30 Pro controller, which is to say that there are no issues in controlling the characters with a little practice. The game works well in docked or handheld mode, with one catch: the voice chat is native to the game and requires a microphone plugged into the Switch to function. Docked mode is effectively out of the question unless one foregoes communication, which isn't very feasible considering that this is a game that is meant to be played online with real people. Teamwork and clear communication are vital to surviving a skilled Jason.
Playing Offline With Bad AI
It is frustrating to see that the AI appears not to have improved since the game first released in 2017. On the most difficult settings, counselors will run straight towards an advancing Jason despite not having any weapons. They will sometimes become stuck running on stairs or will enter into a loop of opening and closing the same door until attacked. The two images below are of the AI either running into the door without opening it, or entering, pausing briefly, and exiting, over and over.
Following his escape by stabbing Jason in the throat with a knife, the AI then entered and exited the door over and over again. As Jason, I attempted to knock the AI out of loop by blocking the door, striking with my melee weapon, and grappling without executing a follow-up command, allowing the AI to escape. But somehow, it would always return to fixate on this door. Too often, other AI characters did the exact same thing.
Playing offline is not comparable to playing online, and its main purpose should only be to familiarize oneself with the fundamentals of the game and the map. Defeating the counselors offline does not feel like an accomplishment. Therein lies the largest potential problem for this game: without an online player base, this game loses its playability and viability. Not to mention, the Switch port of Friday the 13th is about to see an impressive, proven competitor arrive in the near future.
The Inevitable And Necessary Comparison To Dead By Daylight
We often seek to review games based only on their merit alone. However, in this case, we must address the similarities to Behaviour Interactive's Dead by Daylight. This is a game that released a full year before Friday the 13th in 2016, and to this day still receives meaningful updates to its content. It's received multiple releases of new characters (both survivors and killers from a broad range of horror franchises), new levels, and cosmetics. Friday the 13th, meanwhile, has been rather lackluster in terms of content or content updates.
Dead by Daylight is set to release for the Switch on September 24th, less than six weeks from now, at a similar price point to Friday the 13th and with all current DLC included. Comparisons of the quality of the two games aside, the player base for Dead by Daylight is large and healthy, where the one for Friday the 13th is not. The question is, will Friday the 13th have an adequately sized player base following the release of Dead by Daylight to maintain online play?
As a port to the Switch, Friday the 13th: The Game does a number of things well, which includes providing all DLC, working to maintain a consistent framerate, and providing native voice-chat for online play, which is enjoyable with a full team of players.
However, the poor design of the AI is problematic because it truly makes this game require an online community to be viable. The unfortunate reality is that when Dead by Daylight releases in September, there is likely a large number of players who would prefer a game with a variety of playstyles and continued content updates.
If this game had released a year ago onto the Nintendo Switch, we undoubtedly would have recommended it as an excellent game that would see a vibrant community of players for quite some time. Right now, there is a real possibility that the player base will dwindle next month with the release of Dead by Daylight.
For that reason, the caveats listed above regarding long-term playability demand consideration. The score below indicates that this is a great game with some flaws, but assumes there is an online community. It does not take into account the potential of a rapidly diminishing player base, which is likely to occur.
3 Out Of 5 Stars
A review copy of Friday the 13th: The Game was provided to TheGamer for this review. Friday the 13th: The Game is available now Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Nintendo Switch.