Developer: Scott Cawthon
Publisher: Also Scott Cawthon, I guess
Completed: October 11, 2015
Last year, Five Nights at Freddy’s made its rounds on YouTube through several popular Let’s Players. At the time, I did not have a Steam account, so I did not play it while it was still as popular as it was. But with a few games coming out soon (including Mighty No. 9 and the previously mentioned River City Ransom: Underground), I figured it was time to get one. One of the first games I purchased was Five Nights, mostly to see if it was as scary, difficult, or fun as indicated by those YouTubers.
The story behind the game is purposely vague. All you know is you are a security guard for a children’s entertainment establishment. The problem is that the animatronics validate every fear you ever had about them growing up. They want to kill you for inexplicable reasons (the game says the bots see you as an endoskeleton that needs to be put back in “uniform” by forcibly stuffing you in a suit). If anyone was interested in the plot, they probably watched the Game Theorists’ videos. All you need to know for this game is spooky animatronics = bad.
You are stationed in one room, looking around using computer monitors tied to the security cameras. Looking at the monitors saps away power, of which there is a very limited supply. The doors, which are your only defense against these baddies, also take power. Running out of power does not necessarily guarantee a Game Over, but you won’t have a good time.
Winning involves not getting caught with your pants down for six in-game hours. This involves strategically closing the doors when any of the animatronics are at the two doors leading into the room. It starts with only one of the animatronics, usually Bonnie the Rabbit, roaming aimlessly about the restaurant until he either locks himself in the closet for the rest of the night or creeps at you from the left door. As you progress to the following nights, other animatronics join in on the “fun,” including Chika the Pizza-Obsessed Addict, Foxy the Freak, and finally Freddy, the bear that hates life (mostly yours). As mentioned, Bonnie wanders around the restaurant, and Chika follows suit. Foxy lives in Pirate Cove and will sprint out if left to his own devices for too long. Freddy laughs and kills you when winning seems possible.
My experience was not as entertaining as YouTube would make you believe. First, I played on a laptop that I’ve had since 2011, so the game had severe lag at certain moments. Second, it was… kind of boring. Here’s a breakdown of how each night went:
Night 1: My boss called and talked for two hours. Bonnie left the stage and stayed in the dining area for about another two hours. He then got locked in the closet until morning. Chika just kind of shook her head, disappointed but not surprised.
Night 2: Pretty sure this game should have been called Five Nights of Bonnie, because it was The Bonnie Show again. Bonnie quickly vacated the show floor, meandering to the dining area. He managed to find the hall leading to my door, where he hung out for a few hours. Bonnie did find the door opening. I felt a little bad closing the door on him, since he tried for a collective eleven hours trying to find me. I wanted to congratulate him, but at the same time, no. Chika left the show floor, but I never found her. Maybe she went to get Bonnie one of those Hallmark cards saying Good Job.
Night 3: I’m feeling pretty invincible by this point, so I play a game called How Long Until I Die? Foxy won around 1 AM. Good for him. Trying again, Bonnie was a little more aggressive, but I was able to keep Foxy at bay by staring at him through the security camera. How did he know I was watching him? Did Chika forget about me?
Night 4: Someone killed the dude on the phone, I think. Bonnie was being an absolute turd by hanging outside of my door. He must have been very proud of his accomplishment two nights ago, and like a pet that’s given a snack after being a goo’ boy, Bonnie went completely Pavlovian on me. Foxy made a sprint for the door, but since Bonnie was already there, it didn’t make a difference. Chika somehow wondered to my door as well. Swell!
Night 5: Freddy’s a part of the game :)!! Being the punk that he is, he decided to come right up to my door and randomly murder me. Okay, maybe I need to keep him at the show floor by watching him. I found out that just looking at any room is enough to keep Foxy at the Cove, so I only occasionally looked at him while focusing on Freddy. I slipped up again and let Bonnie into the room. I like to think I made his dreams come true. Since my computer is old and lagtastic, Bonnie froze in the middle of the animation, though the scream continued. Usually, it ends after a second or so before going to static. Here’s what I heard:
With one more go, I was able to follow this formula:
- Check the Show Room
- Check the right door
- Check the left door
- Repeat, occasionally looking at Pirate Cove
Foxy never made an appearance and Freddy never moved from his platform. I got a paycheck. I decided never to come back.
The game is not as challenging as I thought it would be. This might be due to seeing so many playthroughs on the internet that I knew what to expect and where everyone would show up. It is an experience, and I admit that I was startled when Bonnie eventually found me. There was just too much time between anything exciting happening. After a bit of time, I muted my computer and listened to The Legend of Zelda soundtracks since I would like to think my boss would allow me to listen to music while I work (it was unmuted for a bit during Night 5, though).
Growing up, I always wanted to work in a theme park as one of those costumed characters. Now, more than ever, I know that is the most important job in the world. It’s the only way we can prevent those animatronics from being haunted and taking over.
This game is more of an experience than a game. I conquered the game in about an hour, and there isn’t much replayability. Maybe it is the folly of being so Internet-famous: everyone already knows everything the game will throw at the player. It has a great premise, and the second game looks much better, but this is the game I chose to download, and it is about half the price of the rest of the series. Nothing to go out of your way to play unless it’s on sale.
My arbitrary rating based on absolutely nothing is 5 out of 13.