GAME REVIEW: FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S / DEVELOPER: SCOTT GAMES / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Proving that there is no such thing as a truly unworkable idea, Five Nights At Freddy’s approaches horror from a bafflingly weird angle by setting it in a family pizzeria filled with murderous anthropomorphic mascots. Tasked with keeping an eye on the place at night, the player is forced to ensure that the shambling monstrosities do not break into the security office and murder them.
Despite the daft premise, the game manages to be truly unnerving, with the environment becoming creepier with each passing night. Ever more hints are dropped that nothing is right with the restaurant, with grisly murders plaguing its history. However, all this is presented in such a satirically cheerful style, you’re continuously wrong-footed by the scares and never truly adjust to the bizarre nature of the world.
The mechanics are bare-bones basic, but that’s part of the game’s charm. With limited power, the player is tasked with keeping an eye on each of the colourful mascots through the CCTV system. So long as the player is looking at them they cannot advance towards the office and can be held back, but the problem is that the mascots quickly learn and adapt. They will soon begin exploiting blind spots in the camera network and even the cameras themselves will begin to fail, running out of juice at the worst possible moment.
With nowhere to run and no way to fight back against these creatures, the player is left relying upon reflexes and careful planning to survive each night, and it's the fascination of managing the resources at hand and learning to adapt your tactics that gives the title its edge.
This said, the game is not without issues. With its relatively short length and narrow focus, there is very little replay value to be found here, and the main gimmick does begin to wear thin in the final couple of hours. Furthermore, despite shifting tactics to keep players surprised, there are certain locations the mascots will almost always pass through. This means the player can learn to just keep an eye on certain cameras without bothering with others.
Five Nights At Freddy’s offers a fresh angle on the horror genre such as we have not seen in a long time, and despite its shortcomings it’s well worth the low price. If you’re after new scares before Alien: Isolation hits shelves, check this one out.