8 December, XLIV A.S. (2014)
Five Nights at Freddy’s: does G.R. Wilson like it?
Maybe I’m a little late boarding the hype train, since this indie PC and mobile game, developed by Scott Cawthon, came out on August 8th of this year. (The sequel, Five Nights at Freddy’s 2, came out November 11th.) But I want to start posting proper reviews of Horror games, and this is the most recent new one I’ve played. I’ll discuss what I like, what I don’t like, and everything in between. This is my first video game review, and I will definitely post more here in the near future. Without further ado, read on for my review! (Damn it that rhymes. Oh well!)
Five Nights at Freddy’s, as I mentioned above, was developed by Scott Cawthon. Apparently, the character models in a previous game he created looked so unintentionally animatronic and creepy that they inspired him to make Five Nights! The premise behind this game is that you, the player, are the new nightshift security guard at a Chuck E. Cheese-esque pizzeria called Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. The place’s main gimmick is its four robotic animal characters, who talk and sing and entertain the kids. Then, at night they turn violent for fairly creative reasons which are explained in game. Basically, your job is to watch all the different rooms and hallways of the place through the security camera feeds in your office, while trying to not die during your entire 12 AM-6 AM shift. Yay!
As I mentioned, you’re the security guard in this game, sitting in your security office. Gameplay-wise, this means you can’t move apart from looking back and forth in that one room. Your available actions are to check the security camera feeds, close either (or both) of the large metal doors on your left and right sides, and turn on and off the lights which let you see into the hallway immediately outside those doors. All of these actions drain power, which starts at 100% and plummets fairly quickly throughout the night. Meanwhile, our friends the killer robots begin to move from room to room in chaotic (but definitely not random) patterns, eventually moving right next to your office, and then inside. If they get inside, (with a couple exceptional circumstances that I don’t want to spoil here…) you die in a terrifying jump scare. Yay!
But seriously there is a lot of tension and difficulty with this rather simple concept. Closing the doors when your enemies are close is your only defense, but keeping the doors closed drains power. (And when power reaches 0%…well, what do you expect happens when you’re left defenseless in the dark with fur-covered terminators hell-bent on mutilating your squishy organic flesh?) So, you logically want to only keep the doors closed for the minimum time possible, to conserve power…but to tell when you should close and open the doors, you need to use power for the cameras and the hall-lights. You have to look, but not too much, but not too little either.
Though some might complain that the gameplay is too simple, I say it works. It takes skill, it keeps your mind occupied as you play, and it adds and conIInects naturally to the Horror theme of the game. Good, creative, (though not quite stellar) gameplay in my opinion.
Sound and Music
This game is light on music, so there’s not much to say in that regard. Creepy merry-go-round-esque music plays from the animatronics at a couple select moments, and it feels thematic and creepy enough. The game is mostly quiet in you humble little security office (the thrum of your desk fan is the main thing you can hear) and this just really ratchets up the tension as you struggle to keep track of all your approaching opponents. The sound on the death-screen is effective at scaring my pants off every time, so I give the game points for that. And there are occasional, never overused sounds of the robots’ thudding footsteps, or tiny moans as they’re about to strike. The game doesn’t need more sound than it has; the quiet gets under my ski more than music would.
I think graphics are the weakest point of the game, though they still don’t take away from an overall good experience. The graphics are decent 3-D models of the robots, and then a combination of mostly pre-rendered backgrounds with I think a bit of 3-D modelling. You almost never see the robots move; they’re always stationary on your camera feed. (Well, with one exception, but again I’d rather not spoil that.) The graphics are slightly primitive by modern standards, but again, far from “bad” in any way. The rooms of the pizzeria look creepy, and the robots look creepy and are well-designed. They look believable as actual children’s animatronics, and yet also extremely unsettling and threatening. As they should.
I don’t like to spoil games’ stories too much, but basically as I said: you’re the new nightshift guard for Freddy Fazbear’s, meaning you must perform your job of sitting in your office, and not getting killed by robots. It’s made clear to you through some unusual telephone calls and your own inferences that the business is on hard times due to numerous safety issues involving the weirdly-advanced animatronic characters. There’s a real sense of shadiness about the company. The explicit lore, and implied rumors and lore behind Freddy Fazbear and his friends, is disturbing and creative. There’s no grand revelation or slowly building plot per se like you’d see in a game such as Amnesia, but then again this game doesn’t try to be Amnesia, it’s simpler. It takes its concept and runs it as far as it can given the gameplay. It’s an effective scary story, nothing amazing, but good, and great at being directly tied to the gameplay.
This game only costs like $5 on Steam, is scary, creative, and fun. I recommend it if you want an indie Horror game that doesn’t try to be an Amnesia clone, and that is relatively simple and almost arcade-esque, but still effective in its scares. Happy gaming!