This week, Morgan reviews the first two Five Nights at Freddy’s games, it having seemed like a good idea at the time
Does the world still feel the after-effects of 2020 and thus adopted the mindset that it’s in fact six years earlier? I mean, 2014 was fine, I suppose, provided I don’t look at a picture of my thirteen-year-old self, shaggy hair, dimples and all, but what exactly prompted Five Nights at Freddy’s to make a resurgence? The series experienced a peak in public interest with the release of roughly the thirty-seventh sequel, Security Breach, last year. And then that had the file size of the Watergate Scandal and ran as smoothly as a one-eyed chihuahua with three legs missing, so people reminisced about the time it was near-unanimously agreed to be “good”.
I, for one, never got into the games when they were at the height of their popularity because I am, in academic terms, an absolute pussy. But this also helps me deliver a review that isn’t being given to you from behind rose-tinted glass.
The plot is, you are a night watchman at a Disney-themed pizza restaurant and breeding ground for childhood trauma named “Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza”, who’s been hired because… I don’t know, the dough is lined with microscopic gold tracking chips or something. God knows there’s no money here to steal, or at least if there is, they haven’t invested any into making the animatronic performers there very friendly. Having grown tired of singing It’s a Small World After All one too many times, they now spend each night roaming the hallways, desperately looking for something to murder. You are in possession of quite possibly the world’s least efficient security system, involving two doors that use power to shut. Instead of, you know, gravity.
I admire Five Nights at Freddy’s more than I like it. I admire how the clever sound design and careful placement of 3D models both disguise a low budget and at the same time make it unbelievably freaky, but then I also admire survivalists’ habits of living out in the woods and building brick huts out of their own shit, and I wouldn’t exactly consider this an endorsement of the lifestyle.
What with being popular amongst the swarm of carnivorous locusts that is the YouTube lets-player community, the strategy is so widely known that I’m certain there are martial arts out there that have been practiced less. Check one camera repeatedly, then shut the door if a scary thing lingers just outside like it hasn’t gotten over its social anxiety yet.
I stopped playing by night five, but honestly, the game had long since piqued by that point. It plays all its trump cards right at the beginning, so all it can do afterward is wander into the faintly lame territory of your bog-standard indie horror trends. So of course, the screen occasionally glitches out and a music sting will play when you turn a light on to see that massive chicken leering down at you with a hungry look in its eyes. It ends up functioning more as a sharp, attention-grabbing poke in the shoulder than something scarier.
That being said, it was a hell of a lot more entertaining than some of the recent garbage I played; at least I had something to talk about. It just wasn’t enough to fill an entire article. So then I played Five Nights at Freddy’s 2. And I’m just going to say it, if I had no knowledge of which game was which, I’d assume this one came first.
Well, if you consider the canon, it technically did –
I meant in terms of design and graphical quality; shut up, get out of my room.
There’s no time to appreciate anything in this game; there were twice as many animatronics out for a piece of that Morg-ussy and so I couldn’t dwell on one camera for too long. I appreciate that we’re meant to be under more pressure this time around, but the first game ramped up the tension much more naturally with its soundscapes. All this installment has is this one repeating beat whenever something shows up in the hallway and trust me when I say something shows in the hallway a lot. It’s more of an irritation by night three; you’d let them take a chunk out of your front cortex just to get it to stop.
Maybe the lack of time to appreciate the good artistry and modeling was because there is no good artistry and modeling. That was one of my world-class scientific theories, by the way. My evidence? How about the fact that half the characters wouldn’t like amiss in the congealed pile of half-chewed kibble and fish oil that my dog chucked up last week?
Everything’s too shiny if you get what I’m saying; there’s no weight to any of it. Even the increased size of your office makes things less scary; the claustrophobic environment in the first game made it very clear that should anything except foot in there, you may as well bend over and ask for it gently.
It’s obvious corners have been cut this time around. No big surprise of course; you’re always going to be sacrificing quality if you want to get two games out in the space of the same year. Clearly, creator Scott Cawthon wanted to see if the gravy train was still going. But if it sets off too quickly, you’re still going to get brown stains all over your trousers that will be very hard to explain away at your dinner with the in-laws.