Thursday, 19 March 2015

Five Night's At Freddy's 3 - various

Fiiiive Niiiights Aaaaaat Freddy's.... Four calling birds, three french....etc

So we’re back, once again, to the highly popular and frequently shocking, suspense-filled and subtle undertones of child murder and mayhem that is, Five Nights At Freddy’s 3. We’ve had the first, as almost ground-breaking as the Slenderman games and such that prey upon shock scares and the feeling of helplessness compounded by the inability to run away. We’ve had FNAF 2 (Electric Boogaloo), where more robots attacked, a puppet on strings would assault us like Tim Burton’s vision of Pinocchio and now we have FNAF 3, which could be the final in the series, giving us just one robotic killer to worry about.

Nothing new there then.

It sounds like quite the downgrade doesn’t it. We’ve had the horror of 4 robots (plus a ghost), to 11 enemies and now we’re down to just one. But what a one it is as we’re lovingly guided through day one with no challenges whatsoever but some surfer-dude sounded colleague phones us on the first day to tell us that Freddy’s Pizza is now a horror attraction using bits and pieces collected over the last 30 years or so. Day One, being the gentle easing into the nightmare, has no challenges, no difficulties, no threats and lets us get on with learning the new system, the new map, where the cameras are and the fact that things are falling apart and the live feed might go down and need rebooting, the audio might need rebooting too and the ventilation system could cause suffocation.

This just in! Unnecessary pretext!

What this means is that your main weapons are VERY limited in stopping one killer robot, the ill-named Springtrap, which you learn as to why it’s so ill-fated when a friendly revisit from the very first phone-guy makes a call and explains what is so special about Springtrap as a robot. (Hint: You can wear it, but don’t breathe at the wrong time, else the mechanics activate while you’re inside… ok so that’s not so much a hint as a full explanation but oh well, just imagine a tiny violin playing a sad song for you). Much in the same way as the previous games, the robot will travel the area in search of the player and you’ve got to use your powers of weak video cameras to spot where it is, use the audio recordings of laughing children to encourage it to other places and make sure that it’s not in the ventilation ducts to bypass LARGE areas of the map.

It's not even 1am and everything has just gone pear-shaped.

Failure to secure your safety will likely have Springtrap popping along into your office to kill you in some horrifically gruesome fashion or another, either by walking in through the open door (bonus points if he’s stood OUTSIDE THE DOOR STARING IN!) or by using the ventilation system to pop out from behind where your camera system is. It’s a duel, one-on-one, against a literal killer robot and yourself. However, as the day’s progress, the vents need resetting regularly, the audio cuts out after repeated use and the video doesn’t last long before it needs a reboot. Each one of which takes many valuable, tense, nerve-wracking seconds before it can be used again and in doing so, blocks your view almost entirely, just enough for Mr Springtrap to sneak ever closer to your location.

This is Springtrap, he is coming to kill you.

As usual for this game series, there’s the secret backstory which can be found through hidden games that look like the old Atari 2600 series, which not only tell the story further of the purple man and the dead children murdered through the series, but of how Springtrap came to be and there’s the FURTHER mission of trying to liberate not only yourself from the events of the third game but to save the souls of those killed by the purple man back in the previous games that now form the very robots you had to defend against, Springtrap being the exception here, as he’s certainly not powered by a forsaken child (thank you Venture Brothers), but something far more sinister.

Foxy says "Boo" -The power of understatement

Fear not! Or fear more, depending on how you view this, but the original cast of the series are also in this game. We’ve got Chica, Freddy, Foxy, Balloon Boy, Mangle and the Marionette making (almost) guest appearances by explanation of the ventilation system causing “possible” hallucinations. By which I mean, in your quest to hunt down Springtrap on camera, you’ll be haunted by the aforementioned characters of the series in various ways, and in increasing frequency as the days go on. Balloon Boy will pop up on random cameras and then “jump” you, Foxy will just sit there until you look at him and then “jump” you, as will Chica, while Mangle will kill your sound system for a while, Freddy will also get in on the action and the Marionette will certainly demand a full focus of your time. All of which, helps Springtrap get ever closer to getting you in his clutches. It’s a strategy fest and you’ll HAVE to learn how to overcome the hallucinations before they happen if you want to spend the time focused on Springtrap.

Atari 2600 styled minigames, if you do well enough.

Combined with creepy ambient sounds and possibly the best designed map of the series with dank corridors that are (in-game at least) meant to be fear inducing as it’s supposed to be a horror attraction now (though not intentionally with a murderous rabbit robot sporting flesh and organs in places), the game is as gorgeous to see as it is nerve-wracking though in some of the cameras it gets very hard to see where Springtrap is unless he’s staring at the camera with his illuminated eyes. And although the same rules apply for the robots not moving when being watched and force static to flood the screen when they do relocate, what little animation is fluid and impressive to behold from Springtrap breaking into the room, to the hallucinations attacking you and even some of the more creepy background events.

Please note: Springtrap staring at the camera on the left.

Fans of the series may be disappointed to hear there’s no 4/20 mode, but with the original five nights concept, bonus 6th night “hard mode” and unlockables such as images, animations, all the jump scares, radar mode, fast night mode, aggressive mode (and it is… Springtrap effectively SPRINTS at you the whole time) and more; coupled with the hidden games and mini-games as well as the 3 star success (take a breath…) there’s plenty in this game combined with the background lore that will entertain fans and newcomers alike.

Not just one map, there's the vent system to worry about that Springtrap can use to get into your office.

That said, the game does have failings. Namely in that the suspense is almost removed in later days when you’re attacked very frequently by hallucinations that the actual final jump scare of Springtrap killing you is more welcomed than feared. The horror almost has become toned down to be simply annoying and borders on the fringe of being overkill at this point. Added to that, the initial concept of the game and the new mechanics may seem too far a stretch at this point that it’s been observed that many new players to the 3rd game despite being avid fans of the series’ earlier titles, found they had little clue as to how they were surviving the nights nor how to actively confront and halt Springtrap’s movements.

This is seriously the worst job to have. Ever. Turkey Husbandy would be better.

That said, I’ve enjoyed the series and feel that this is the perfect send-off for it, assuming that no more are made but I’ve no doubt that fan titles are being made or will be made that will piggyback on the success of this series, especially with such a huge and creative fan base that ranges from musical artists composing songs around the series, animations on YouTube and a flood of Let’s Play (read: scare ourselves shitless) videos of fans enjoying/enduring the game.