BY FRANCAIS HEALY – THE CAMPUS LEDGER
It’s dark and ominous inside the control room. As the clock strikes 2 a.m., your energy drink is getting flat as you clench on to the fact that you’re almost out of power. You hear a distant noise and hastily check the cameras for signs of impending danger. They’re all black… You hear footsteps and close the camera when suddenly a gigantic, animatronic, purple bunny screams and attacks your face.
Welcome to “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” one of this summer’s premier indie horror video game titles from Scottgames. Your character is Michael Schmidt, the poor soul that signed up for the worst summer job ever. He works the night shift as a security guard for Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, a family-owned pizza joint famous for their animatronic, furry characters that entertain guests of the run-down establishment.
Though creepy, these mechanical deviants seem petty and harmless throughout the day, but from midnight to 6 a.m., they’re unstoppable.
The four puppets, Freddy the Bear, Bonnie the Bunny, Chica the Chick and Foxy the Pirate Fox, bring forth the primal fear a child might feel towards such characters. Each “thing” stares into a potential victim with sunken eyes and paralyzed smiles as they conceal their prominent teeth, giving them the appearance of a psychopathic nightmare puppet. According to the recorded voice of the previous occupant of your position, your job is to make sure no harm comes to the “equipment” from midnight until 6 a.m.
In the game, however, your goal is to ensure that nothing happens to you.
As your instructor reads the legal jargon from the receiver, it becomes clear that your life is definitely, maybe, probably in imminent danger, and as the night wears on, you quickly come to the realization that there’s more than meets the eye during the afterhours of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza.
As the puppets roam around at night, if they happen to see you, they will mistake you for an animatronic character outside of his suit. But that’s against the rules at Freddy’s. Don’t worry, they’ll help you fix that… by shoving you into a bear suit filled with mechanical wiring and other sharp metal fragments.
The gameplay is simple: you sit inside the security office, observing security cameras dispersed throughout the pizza place via tablet. The game is exclusively controlled with a mouse and the player uses it to open and close the camera screen by moving it to the bottom of the monitor. This allows you to switch cameras by clicking on separate boxes, representing a different camera stationed in each room.
The animatronic puppets have starting places, and as the night draws on, you notice they move throughout the building, getting closer and closer to your office. The only thing that stands between you and your untimely death are two mechanical doors, powered by limited energy and lights in the hallways next to your doors. The buttons for the doors and hallway lights turn off and on with simple clicks of the mouse. Using the cameras, hallway lights and mechanical doors, you defend yourself from the nightmare machines that wander the halls.
Like previously mentioned, these defenses take power, and if you’re running on empty before the night is over, you’ll be defenseless from Freddy and his buddies. There is very little sound — just the humming of the fan and a light bulb in your office. When the characters move, you’ll hear their footsteps and other noises they may make. The dead silence is bone chilling. It builds anxiety perfectly for exhilarating jump scares. As the player, you know in real life there’s nothing scary about playing a silly video game, but the simple fear of being afraid or scared drives you into a swirling spiral of tension, building paranoia and sickeningly exciting fun.
While the premise seems ridiculous at first, the dirty-looking artwork makes you believe you’re in a disgusting back office of a pizza parlor, reminiscent of a haunted Chuck E. Cheese’s. The characters were created using paintings over 3-D models, and despite being 2-D, there’s a slight lifelike effect to them, which creates an uncanny appearance that puts the creepiness of the game over-the-top.
Despite a couple inconsistencies, such as long spurts of inactivity during certain levels and the audio clips from your instructor unable to replay, the game is very polished.
It takes a while to fully understand how to control the game so a recommendation would be to watch YouTube videos to get a decent sense of how everything works. On the flip side, it’s more exciting and unpredictable to trek through the night while learning how to operate everything. Obviously, how one chooses to play is ultimately up to the player…
All in all, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” is a terrifying experience and certainly one of the more notable indie games to come out this month. With unique and uncanny visuals, a killer atmosphere composed of fantastic sound effects and a fun but eerie premise, this game is the complete package.
The full game is available on Steam, but if you’re unsure of whether or not this game is for you, try the trial version (available here). Many simply can’t handle the psychological torment brought by this game; however, if you like survival horror, this game is a fun romp.
Contact Francais Healy, staff reporter, firstname.lastname@example.org