While I’m sure most game fanatics such as myself are blasting their way through Bungie‘s Destiny this week, some of us may have spent the build up to its release fixated on other games to ease the pain of not being able to play it beforehand. I myself had taken the opportunity to control my excitement by occupying myself with a certain popular title created by Scott Cawthon called Five Nights at Freddy’s.
We have been hired to see through a night shift at what looks like a children’s restaurant, Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza; the kind we see in America with places such as Chuck. E. Cheese. The first piece of information we encounter is a phone call that explains that things may go bump in the night, which is probably the understatement of the year. We begin the game in a room that resembles a small security room that we cannot leave. we are sat in a chair we cannot stand up from. Instead, we are firmly rooted to the spot and our only control is the ability to look left and right at two doors either side of the small room. A security room that has two doors in the real world would probably raise questions on just how secure said room is, but for the game its the reason we are required to look left and right. Each door is fitted with a switch that allows us to close them for a small amount of time. As well as this wonderful feature of high tech security, we are given a laptop or small screen that can flick through the many CCTV cameras in the building. There’s only one problem; using the doors and CCTV depletes a battery that can be seen at the bottom of our screen and it’s power can soon disappear!
So the first night begins. I have a quick flick through the cameras while this was going on to think to myself “What’s all the fuss about?”. It wasn’t until my second scan of the cameras that I noticed that one of the robotic animals had moved to the function room by itself. It was just….Standing there. So I continued, not really knowing what I was doing. I came off the cameras, checked the areas outside my doors with the flickering lights, and went back to the cameras. All was well; the creature was still in the function room. Then I flick to the camera at the end of one of the corridors closer to my room to see a figure stood there too! OK, I see where this is going. We have to keep an eye on all the characters and when they get too close to our room we have to shut the door, all while keeping another keen eye on our battery to last the night till 6 am when our shift ends.
In spite of what I have just said, the first night isn’t too bad. The scariest point was when one of the characters was practically stood at one of the doorways with a menacing smile on his face before I shut the door and he disappeared. This happened maybe twice all night and I didn’t think much about it thereafter. Onto night two. I begin the night to a phone call from the same guy explaining that if the robotic animals catch me, they will think I am a robot without its skin and will therefore try and forcefully stuff me into a costume….nice! I was also warned to keep my eye on one specific animal which is concealed by a curtain in Pirate Cove, which can pretty much get to one of your doors instantaneously if you are not careful. I took all this with a pinch of salt but when I saw this thing sprinting down a corridor at me, I lost my collective shit. This is one of the more nerve racking parts of the game as you only mere moments to come away from the cameras and press the button to close the door before it gets you. It was at this point that I decided to head downstairs to apologize to everyone in the house for shouting profanities so loudly. Good job we didn’t have company over.
There is somewhat of a story as the phone calls fill you in on information about the animatronic menaces that, let’s say, haunt this establishment. However the tense game-play is strictly the main point. I suppose the premise of the game is enough to make you jump off your seat with some of the scares in this. To those who love a good story, this game doesn’t really deliver to the point where reasons behind the animals being alive is explained, unless you have a very keen eye for things in the background. No spoilers here, but just a tip; keep an eye on the mascots but take the time to take in the surroundings. The restaurants back story is implied with items visible around its hallways and rooms.
Even though, while playing the game, every night seems like a long stretch, it really does only last five days (seven if you want to play the bonus level and custom night.) which, depending on which way you want to look at it, could either be a blessing if you can’t stand any more or a curse if you are a gluten for punishment. Another slightly frustrating moment is when the door decides it doesn’t want to work. As far as I can tell this happens at random and there is no way of knowing when it will decide to stop working. Maybe the A.I has been programmed as such that it lures you into a false sense of security when you think you are on your way to ending your hellish night shift, which in the grand scheme of things is a nice touch if the player is getting too cocky. It also makes you curl up into a ball with a sense of impending doom as you just have to wait for the screech of one of these thinks to take you out.
I wont lie to you, I didn’t last very long. From a combination of jumping out of my skin, a lot of swearing, annoying my family with loud noises and the difficulty that this game accelerates at, I did not last the five nights. I did, however, get really into this game before my final rage quit. I definitely recommend playing this as it intensifies and becomes something in which you sort of make your own tactics as you progress to get through each night. How long can you last? Did you make it to the last day? and if so HOW!? For those of you out there reading this that think “Pfft I did it already” just be warned, there’s a sequel coming!
+ Does a great job of making the player feel as tense as possible
+ Easy to get drawn into the game
+ Forces you to come up with a strategy/tactics as the game progresses
– There is a steep learning curve
– That battery life!