Name of Game: Five Nights at Freddy's
Developer: Scott Cawthon
Release Date: August 18, 2014
Latest Update: August 18, 2014
Platform: Windows (Steam)
There are a ton of horror games out there. A ton. But each are different in some way that separates them all, either by a little or a lot. It could be their core gameplay, their graphics, their plot, sometimes you could put something into a horror game that you wouldn't expect to put into a horror game and it's instantly scary. I, personally, am not a fan of horror games and the answer should be very obvious. I don't enjoy scaring myself, combined with the atmospheres these games have, it's something that has kept me up sometimes. However, when a horror game is interesting to me, I tend to look into it more than I probably should, to the point where it isn't so much scary anymore, but is something I can read. The first game that took me like this was SCP: Containment Breach, where an entire Wiki was made based on the SCP database the game has, and hasn't completely shown yet. There are a projected few thousand SCPs in that Wiki, but only a couple have made it into the game, and some are very interesting, one of my favorites being SCP-999, who is just a friendly living blob of dough. The last time I looked at the Wiki was my senior year of high school more than a year ago. Another game, however, has gained instant popularity over Tumblr, and that game is Five Nights at Freddy's.
Five Nights at Freddy's is a psychological horror game where you are known as Mike Schmidt, and has just recently accepted the job as overnight watchman in family-owned pizzeria, Freddy Fazbear's Pizza. Mike's job requirements have him remain in his security office, not allowed to leave his position, from 12:00 AM to 6:00 AM. During Mike's first night on the job, he is introduced to a small room that enters from two hallways. Inside is a fan constantly on and a wall filled with posters and balled up papers, along with a phone and a light that appears to be struggling just to keep powered. A phone call comes in from whom the Wiki addresses as the Phone Guy, assumed to be the previous security guard before Mike was hired, here to deliver the legal statement for his employment and to tell you about what happens during the night, as well as provide tips on how to play the game. Unfortunately, a bit that was not given to Mike during his interview is that the faces of Freddy Fazbear's Pizza - the animatronics - have become self aware thanks to their many days spent playing the same songs again and again, and their servos becoming locked up, possibly as a result of low maintenance. Not only that, but the animatronics are also on a constant free-roaming mode, which now gives Mike reason to be the watchman: he now has to keep track of the animatronics in order to keep himself safe, otherwise the animatronics will mistake him for a metal endoskeleton without a suit, and will force Mike inside an empty suit without question, which will result in death due to all of the wiring and such inside the body and especially the head. With that, the Phone Guy leaves Mike to keep an eye out. Mike, for some insane reason, returns for the second night to continue his duties. As he begins the second night, he receives another phone call from the same man congratulating him on making it through the first night, and informs him on kicking up his efforts to keep him safer, as he tells Mike that as he progresses through the week, the animatronics get more and more hostile and more of them will start to roam about and come after him. A much shorter call, and Mike is left on his own. During the third night, the Phone Guy stresses the importance of the hall lights for Mike and ends the call after congratulating him on making it this far.
Starting on Night 4, the Phone Guy has confidence that Mike will no longer need him after making it this far, but during this call, he asks Mike to check out the storage room for a certain costume, but he's cut off when a low-sounding Toreador March plays during the call and is ended with a loud screech before being cut off by static, and Mike is left to handle the animatronics in a very agitated state. It's beyond question why Mike would continue to hold his job for this long, even though his life is in obvious danger. Not only that, but before beginning the first night, the player can see the advertisement for the position, which says you will be paid $120 weekly. Earning $120 over the course of five nights, working six hours per night, you are only making a measly $4 an hour. There are hundreds of jobs out there with much safer work environments with the minimum wage being somewhere around twice as much as what Freddy Fazbear's will pay you. If I were in Mike's place, I would quit after the first night, glad that the place is closing at the end of the year, which is one of the things you can see while playing the game, in the form of a poster. When the fifth night begins, your phone call is not of the Phone Guy, but of a heavily distorted and unintelligible voice mixed with static, screeches and growls, only meant to work you up for the terrible night ahead, where all the animatronics will stop at nothing to shove you in that suit.
At the end of the fifth night, Mike is given the check for $120, and offered the ability to return for a sixth night for a bonus check of 50¢ more. Successfully doing so allows Mike to return for a questioning seventh night, which allows Mike to customize the behavior of the four animatronics and see how he fares, however doing so at the end of the night results in Mike's firing.
As for Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, as mentioned earlier, due to a bunch of issues the business has had, including sanitary problems and injuries caused by the animatronics and a case where five children were murdered backstage and stuffed into empty suits, Freddy Fazbear's has tried extremely hard to stay afloat, but has confirmed to shut down by the end of the year. I can only imagine how the animatronics will react to that when the time comes, and what their fate will be.
When first looking into this game, and looking past the gameplay, for a game that is relatively short, the story behind it, as well as the small details that left Freddy Fazbear's Pizza in the condition that it is, I wanted to look into it, including the other animatronics that are after you.
Speaking of which, let's get into the game now. As stated in the beginning, you play Mike Schmidt as the overnight watchman. You are restricted to your office at all times, meaning you will be spending 30 in-game hours in this one spot, where the only kind of movement you have is straying slightly to the left and to the right. To the left and right of you are entry ways into the office, where the animatronics will make their way inside and kill you should you give them the chance. You have only two controls on the walls for each side, a light control and a door control. The light control will allow you to see what's just outside your door while the door control brings down a large metal security door that will protect you from whatever is outside, preventing the animatronic from taking you out. Of course, you still need to see what's going on, and that's where the security camera tablet comes in. By moving your mouse to the arrow bar located near the bottom of the screen, Mike will look at the tablet which allows him to look at various camera feeds located throughout the building. Including the Office, there are 10 locations that the tablet will foresee: the main stage, the dining room, backstage, the supply closet, Pirate Cove, the restrooms, the kitchen, and the two hallways leading to the office, where you can view the feed looking down the hallway or the one just outside the doors.
The biggest obstacles of your five nights are the animatronics, heroes to children during the day, but your worst nightmare at night. They are Freddy Fazbear himself, Bonnie the Rabbit, Chica the Chicken, Foxy the Pirate, and the hidden Golden Freddy.
As the Phone Guy speaks to you and informs you of the animatronics' behavior, by the time he wraps up the call and you check the first camera feeds, you will catch eye of the show stage, where you can see Bonnie, Chica, and Freddy all in stand-by. However, they won't begin moving until around after the call has finished, which should be about 2 or 3 AM, meaning the first night will be quite easy, but there are plenty of factors to keep you from feeling at ease, but more on that shortly. Night 1 introduces you to the behavior of Bonnie and Chica, the two characters who are only available for this night. These two are on a randomized path (as far as my research has got me), beginning on the Show Stage and will eventually make their way towards the Office. These two are the only ones to which the hall light is most useful, as the other three animatronics will make their move quickly rather than stall. Bonnie is very quick and has the ability to make his way right to the Office immediately, and will always appear in the left hallway. As quick as he is to reach you, he is also quick to leave and go elsewhere before returning to you to try again. Chica is probably the opposite of Bonnie, as she takes her time to get to you, often looking right at the camera and heading through her set path before reaching your door, to which she'll always appear on the right. She will take some time to sit around at the door before departing for another area in the building. In the first couple of nights, they allow you to get accustomed to the game's mechanics and learn what to do to protect yourself, but in later nights, they become much more active, and will even have the ability to disable your light and door controls, giving them immediate access into the room to attack you when you check the cameras and go back.
As you make it to the second night, you are introduced to Foxy the Pirate, who will surely scare you <s>shitless</s> the first time or two if you don't prepare for his arrival. Foxy's starting point is always Pirate Cove, and will be very fidgety. The Phone Guy will say in his call that the character behind the curtains at Pirate Cove - Foxy - was supposedly responsible for an event known as "The Bite of '87," to which one of the animatronics either malfunctioned or gained a mind of its own and took out the frontal lobe of a child, resulting in the beat up look of Foxy's model. Adding to that, Pirate Cove is always closed, but Foxy is still active back there, serving as a reason for you to constantly check the cameras. Foxy is a major difficulty spike compared to Night 1, as stated in the call becomes agitated the less the cameras are on him. Over time, Foxy will peek out of the curtains, and try to sneak out. Your task is to frequently - but not too frequently - check the camera feed on Pirate Cove to make sure he doesn't leave. Failure to do so will have Foxy barrel towards the Office down the left hallway, giving you mere seconds to shut the door before he attacks you. Again, seeing him charge at you for the first time is very scary and you may be startled too much to successfully close the door in time. This is only the second night, so Foxy shouldn't bother you too much, but he will find other opportunities to get you later down the week, so it's important to always keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn't leave Pirate Cove. Should the curtains be spread and Foxy is not there, immediately leave the cameras and throw down the left door.
Beginning on Night 4, Freddy Fazbear becomes available. Along with Bonnie and Chica, he begins on the Show Stage, however he has a set path that he will follow, and will remain in dark areas of the room as he proceeds towards the Office. Freddy is possibly the most intimidating, as he will only leave his eyes showing when in part of a room, which usually appear to be lifeless and pin-prick sized white irises. Personally, even images of him terrifies me. Unlike Bonnie and Chica, he will not appear in a room if one of the other two are occupying it first. Also, he will not wait outside the Office like Bonnie or Chica, but will rather make a sound clip play when he's about to attack, a very low pitched giggling. Demented freak. In order to keep Freddy at bay, you need to keep an eye on him and where he goes to slow his path. If you successfully block him from the right hallway, he will surely go somewhere else before coming back to you.
The final animatronic is Golden Freddy, who will start showing up primarily on Night 3. Golden Freddy is a special version of Freddy Fazbear with golden yellow fur, no eyes, and is hunched over in a sitting position with his head tilting to the side and his mouth constantly open. Golden Freddy technically doesn’t have a starting location, but can be seen by completing a sequence of events. Surely during your first playthrough, you will be flipping through the feeds very quickly and won’t stop to view what you’re looking at. Using Camera 2B - the camera facing the corner of the right hallway outside your door - you can see a poster of Freddy. At times, the poster will change as you change the view, sometimes being a close-up of a yellow eye-less version of Freddy. Viewing the poster will spawn him in the Office, but only if you go from viewing Camera 2B and going right to the Office. If this should happen, remain calm. There are ways of making him leave before he kills you. For one, take caution when viewing the cameras. If you see the poster, do not go to the Office, because again, he will be there if you do. If the poster is there, switch to another camera feed and Golden Freddy will be gone. The other way is if Golden Freddy has appeared already. You only have a few seconds to react before he attacks. If you see him in front of you, go right to the cameras and let the flashing images disappear, and he will be gone. I am unsure of the respawn rate of him, so take caution when playing.
However, even with all five animatronics coming after you, why not just close both doors and wait out the night? If this could be done, the game would not have any challenge and, realistically, you just wasted $5. Let’s look at the HUD. The interface takes up only two corners of the screen. The top right corner displays the current time and night, while the bottom left corner shows you your current power and how much you’re using.
Your current power and how much you’re using. This will be what takes you down later in the week, or Night 1 if you’re not conservative. Every night of the week, you begin with 99% power left, and the power will deplete as the night progresses. No matter what you do, you are always losing power, most likely from the fan you’re using and any lights in the building. This is a result of the business failing, and losing funds to keep it afloat, meaning that the night watch only has a limited power supply to compensate. Because you can’t abuse the doors to protect yourself, using the lights, doors, and the tablet to view camera feeds uses more and more power, meaning the best way to beat the night is to use only one of these tools at a time, unless absolutely necessary. Strangely, if you’re able to make Foxy chase you down and block him with your left door, he depletes a bit of your power, but probably not enough to where the night becomes more challenging. If you run out of power, the building becomes a dark bluish tint, with Freddy flashing and playing his theme, Toreador March, for a short while before the screen goes completely black and he takes you down. Although this usually spells game over, time is still progressing while Freddy is looking at you, and it also cancels out any roaming animatronics when it happens, in case any were too close for comfort. Not only that, but you can extend the amount of time Freddy is looking at you by looking left and not moving, or playing dead, as also tipped by the Phone Guy. This is usually a great way to get to 6:00 when you’re nearing it and almost out of power and when others are nearby, especially on Nights 4 and 5.
All of these obstacles together, combined with the fact that you cannot move from your Office, and with the unsettling silence of the building for the six in-game hours you spend, this game will have you on edge for the entire play through until you’ve worked out a method of playing, or can handle horror already.
The graphics are very simplistic, almost reminiscent of 3D games from the late 90’s, although I wouldn’t doubt if this was done on purpose to add to the scariness, and it does the job very well.
In case of any problems I’ve seen with the game, the only one that I have but don’t expect to change is the time. So far, no sources have shown me how long one in-game hour is, although that could be easy to do for a YouTube viewer to watch an unedited play through of the game and use a stopwatch during one of the hours. The game only displays the hours, and there’s no clock in the room to tell you how much time has progressed, meaning that making the jump from 5:00 to 6:00 can be a real nail biter, keeping you on the edge of your seat the entire time, especially if you decide to let the power run out to eliminate any danger.
Overall, Five Nights at Freddy’s earns its spot as one of the scariest games released this year, but is also one of the more interesting, but what keeps me questioning it is if the game will continue, and what and how new features or elements to gameplay will be implemented. There is a demo available for you to play, but according to videos I’ve seen of first time players, you can only play to the end of Night 2, and getting the full version of the game will net you all five nights, plus Night 6 and 7. I would love to see the game implement some kind of achievements, it would be good to give you something to look at if you’re not that good on horror to begin with.
If downloading the full game or its demo isn’t that good, I recommend at least watching a video or two of the game, and checking out its Wiki page, found here:five-nights-at-freddys.wikia.c…
I know I said I had mentioned other games to review, but at the moment, this game had my strange interest and I wanted to touch up on it first. Next time we meet, I will be taking a look at Tomodachi Life for the Nintendo 3DS!