Cheap Games Tuesday: ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’
A year or so again the indie game Slender turned up, basing itself off the popular urban myth of the ‘Slenderman’. It was simple in presentation and gameplay but worked within its limitations to great effect. It became something of a cult smash and spawned a higher budget (and less well received) follow up, and was a staple on internet discussions.
Now we have Five Nights at Freddy’s which brings an original concept that has spawned its own mythology and cult following…and continues to scare the bejeesus out of us all.
You play a nameless and faceless shmoe who takes the night security job at Freddy’s – a family eatery in the vein of Chuck-E-Cheese, complete with the animatronic animals playing in the band. All you have to do is sit in your office and monitor the restaurant through the security cameras. The snag is those aforementioned animatronic characters. At night they are given free roaming of the building to prevent their servos from locking up. Apparently they used to walk around during business hours, up until the biting incident of ’87 (who knew you could live without a frontal lobe?). If they encounter anyone during the night they may mistake them for an exoskeleton and jam them into a mechanical suit.
The story hints at more than that, possibly involving supernatural forces or child murders, but in short: you DO NOT want these things near you.
At the beginning of the night they’re all in their designated positions, waiting for the close of business. You check another camera feed. Nothing. You come back to the main group and…wait, wasn’t there three of them? Eventually you find Chica the Chicken standing in between the tables in the main area, but now Bonnie the Bunny has moved. They only move when you’re not looking, but don’t think you can keep an eye on them in the starting spot because the cameras have a tendency to go dead at bad times. Throughout the night Bonnie, Chica, Foxy the Pirate Fox and, the most dangerous of all, Freddy Fazbear will move closer and closer to your office. You can’t watch them all at once (although you can hear them getting closer) so eventually you’ll have to use your security shutters to close them out.
You might be tempted to close the shutters at the beginning of your shift, but the generator powering the place has only limited juice. Operator your cameras to keep an eye on the things, turning on lights to find the animatronics and closing the shutters with rapidly diminish the fuel. You can only use your defences when you absolutely have to, otherwise you will wind up completely defenceless. And you do not want that.
Five Nights at Freddy’s is available on iOS, Steam and other outlets and for only a couple of bucks there’s no excuse for not giving it a look. The simple commands (clicking the camera you want to see or the buttons for lights and doors) makes it easy to find your way around. It is without a doubt one of the most effective and pants-staining games available in years. If you can make it past the second night without shutting down the game you’ve got steelier nerves than me. If you need a fright this Hallowe’en, give it a look.
And now for the comments from people who claim it isn’t scary.