Thursday, 4 September 2014

Five Nights At Freddy's (Steam)

Just run now

It's rare in this day and age to come across a horror game that actually manages to get it right. The first Silent Hill managed it very, as did the second by establishing a level of helplessness and suspense rather than outright gore and slashy stuff. Horror has evolved in gaming from the point of being about the violence and grimness of a situation and then moving towards the more masterful suspense and ambience of horror, then it got sidelined with being too damn good looking and about the BOO! (Wah! Shat myself) type of horror that rams violence down your throat and blows a load over your stomach and leaves you feeling used up. Must stop watching porn before reviewing... Or watching more... Never mind.


Horror games have started to come full circle, taking it back to a simpler time with games like Slenderman/White Noise (depending on your format), online horror from Murder on Garry's Mod and Kill fest in Doom games to a game like this which seems to have hit the ground quietly but is now running with the continued impulse of a steam train. I am of course referring to Five Nights At Freddy's.

Your base, with light draining stuff going on that you can't stop

The premise is simple enough. You work at a Pizza House that has some aborted looking animatronics robot animals. These robots sing, dance and perform during the day and at night sit quietly around the place, waiting for the next day to happen. LIKE FUCK THEY DO. You are employed as the night-watchman and it turns out that you're not there to guard the place but simply to keep the robots out of your office. They move around at night and apparently their programming means that if they see you, you're going to get stuffed into a suit that will kill you in the process. Fun!

Everyone where they should be... For now...

Much like an episode of Dr Who, the robots won't move unless they are not being watched. You have a selection of cameras in which to keep an eye on them but they also can sneakily blank out the screens and take various routes through the building towards where you are. Watching them will drain power to your nightly allowance and closing either of the huge security doors will also drain the power as well. Using the lights on either side of your room to illuminate the hallways will drain power and if you run out of power, you're as good as dead. UNLESS... You hit 6am the next morning. You can be in the middle of being sung your death and you'll get 6AM then you're safe and good for the next day.

It hungers... for more...

What you don't get, is the bone chilling horror and suspense of losing sight of the robots, then finding them a LOT closer to your hideaway then you want them to be. The bunny on the left, the duck on the right and the Bear and Fox attacking in later days. If you're very unlucky... Something more sinister can show up and kill you too but I don't want to ruin the whole game. Your only real defence is checking up on the robots and seeing where they are before they try to attack and kill you, though one of them will just try to bum rush you at the last moment and kill you unless you're quick in getting the door shut.

You are very close to death, very close.

Each day gets harder with the robots barely making an attempt on you in the first day, up to them almost instantly hitting the doors by the end of the week (and the bonus 4/20 mode where only 5 or so people have beaten it at the time of writing, will leave you dead in seconds if you're not a) quick and b) LUCKY). To add to this, the game plays darkly, is hard to see clearly but rather than being annoying it all enhances the overall atmosphere of the game. The phone calls at the start boost the story by giving you a short rundown of things as the days go by from the previous worker who thought to leave you some messages during his week of work. Though listening to them fully on the later days will likely get you killed before they finish.

I see you too, I'm not liking what I see however.

The horror is brought about by the lack of impact your decisions have on the situation. You can fend them off but you have to leave yourself vulnerable for a while if you want to survive until the night is over. The fact you've GOT to leave yourself vulnerable is as much of a scare as waiting for the monsters to turn up and attack you. Of course you will start to recognise patterns, once you've been caught a few times you'll know when you're done before it happens, killing the suspense as it's already known that you're already dead, but it is still entertaining to try and avoid such a fate of high-pitched squeals and cut-to-blacks.

I'm right outside your door... Keep it open for me.

Perfect? Far from it. But the presentation is very good for what it is and while it will grow old quickly, it will provide you with a few decent scares and impending sense of dread while playing it. Try not to let the power go out... I hear the tune now, Toreador...