Like many others before me (and many others still yet to come), I’ve wanted to play Five Nights At Freddy’s since it first released. For the longest time, it was a frequently talked about online; with everyone being like, “Ooooh! You have to play this super awesome game! It’s like the scariest game ever!” This point and click survival horror (I use the term “horror” very loosely here) was created by an Indie Developer of the Christian faith (kind of ironic considering the theme of the game and its rather morbid contents) by the name of Scott Cawthon from Texas, USA.
Some games get popular because the developers are a remarkable, talented team who construct exactly what the majority audience wants. Other times, a game becomes popular just by word of mouth. Remember “Flappy Bird”? That would be a perfect example of a game that became popular through word of mouth, being that one game you loved to hate because a lot of people got incredibly annoyed trying to complete what looked to be a very simply constructed mobile game from a solo developer.
Unfortunately (and I know I’m going to cop a lot of flak for this), I cannot for the life of me see what all the hype was about with Five Nights At Freddy’s. It’s an overrated game with an extremely simple interface. Not to mention that it’s also awfully short with very limited gameplay.
You will be cast as the character Mike Schmidt, who has been recently employed as the nightshift security guard for a children’s party pizzeria venue called “Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza.” Your job is to monitor the movement of the animatronics mascots (Freddy, Chica, and Foxy) which are implied to contain the carcasses of dead, missing children. Using your security cameras, you must survive the night without being killed by said robots.
I do admit, (and this would be partly the reason why I always wanted to play this game) that the storyline, for any horror buff or enthusiast, instantly draws you in. It has great potential and could have been an amazing game IF it had been constructed better and further elaborated on. The backstory is excellent, most of which you hear through “voicemail” messages presumably left for you (the replacement security guard) by the previous guy whose position you’re taking over for. Mr. Cawthon is a great storyteller, almost Creepypasta worthy, but that’s pretty much it. The game, to me personally, is a huge disappointment when you consider what he could have done with it.
First off, you don’t move; like, at all. You are restricted to one stationary spot, in one room, with a panorama view. This is the first thing I found incredibly annoying. You see, your only “defense” are two doors on either side of you which you can click to open or shut to block off the animatronics. The rooms that you see through the security cameras are artistically interesting, but having seen some these particular rooms in screenshots, I had assumed that you could walk around and explore these environments. Unfortunately, they’re just background visuals with maybe a layer or two of smaller images to provide “depth” for the animatronics to spawn into the rooms with a partial realism effect.
Another thing you’ll quickly notice is that there is very little animation. When you check the cameras, the sprite characters are either there or they’re not. You don’t see them physically “move” from room to room or even move around within a single room. It’s more of a click, look, they’re there. Ok, click, look, okay, they’re not there anymore; let’s click to select another camera room to see where they’ve been spawned to now. Each character just has a small collection of 2D sprite variations depending on which room they’re in. The closest thing you see to animation is the fuzzy screen at the main menu of the game and a fan in the main room.
Speaking of the clicking, that’s ALL you do throughout this entire game. Click and click and click. Repeat. You click the cameras, you click the light, and you click the door. The only “action” in this game that may prevent you from falling asleep from all the mundane clicking are the supposed “jump scares” which aren’t really an “action” more than just a sudden flash to a picture of one of the animatronics in your face with a “scary” sound effect combined.
So let’s talk about the “jump scares,” because that’s apparently one of the reasons why this game is so popular. I played this game late at night with all the lights off, and, if anything, I laughed my nut off when one of the “jump scares” would occur. I’ve seen heaps of jump scares in heaps of games, and many more creative than the ones in this game. To be brutally honest, there’s nothing unique here that hasn’t been done before and better.
One of the last things I need to make a comment on is how short this game is. As implied by the game’s title, there are five nights at (you guessed it) Freddy’s. Very self-explanatory, I’ll give it that. However, due to the lack of exploration or movement, the game is easily completed within a matter of hours, including the two “bonus” nights incorporated only after you’ve completed the initial five nights. So, what happens at the end of all the nights completed? Spoilers now, if you care, but you, Mr. Schmidt, are fired. That’s it. That is how they end the game. Within just a few hours of constant clicking and nonanimated 2D pictures, your character is terminated and thus ends the game.
All in all, great story, but a bad boring game. Probably not recommended for small children. Five Nights at Freddy’s is available on PC, Android and iOS, but I wouldn’t waste your time on the PC version. Basically, if you’re looking a temporary itch to pass time and don’t mind the small out of pocket expense, then whatever tickles your fancy I guess.