Sunday, August 24, 2014

Discussing Five Nights at Freddy's

Five Nights at Freddy’s is a new horror game from Scott Cawthon which has become very popular in a very short period of time. The player sits in a security booth at a children’s themed restaurant at night. All through the night animatronic mascots roam the hallways and at times, come to kill the player. The only controls the player has to defend himself are a couple of doors on either side, lights to light up outside the doors, and a few security cameras. Power is limited so the players different tools can only be used for a very very short period of time.

To me, the gameplay boils down to sitting in a room, waiting for death and hoping you...
...see it coming. If you look at your camera all the time, you will run out of power. However, if you never use it, you will never see it coming and will die anyway.

The problem is, once the scare/novelty factor fades away, it becomes a game of timing and
observation. On top of that, there are a few ways random death can occur at any time. Presumably, this is done to keep the tension levels high for the player. (Something the game succeeds at.) 

One of my favorite aspects is that despite being a truly scary game, there is very little to no gore or violence. If the player gets taken by the enemy, the screen shows a mascot up in the cameras face for about one second with a bit of loud noise. Apart from that, two eyeballs can be seen in the game over screen to communicate that the player has been shoved inside of an animatronic suit.  That is all. Beyond that, everything is handled 100% with atmosphere. And what at atmosphere we are given.

The atmosphere has been handled so well that there is a lot of content speculation around the internet about some of the more ambiguous features. At one point in the game, the player is treated to a phone call which consists of low pitched garbled sounds. There has been a couple of videos attempting to slow down, reverse, or otherwise translate these sounds into something audible. (See videos below. Potential Spoilers.)

I think the reality is that the dev was planning to have one thing happen in the call and then scrapped that idea and used the audio he had recorded to make a mash up. However, the speculation to the contrary makes it all the more fun.

Five Night’s at Freddy’s is made with flash and as such has very low system requirements, so just about anyone can pick it up for five bucks on steam and give it a go.

I have also read reports that Mr. Cawthon is working on a sequel. Bravo Cawthon, for making the scariest game in many, many years.

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