Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Five Nights at Freddy's: The Pizzeria From Hell

It's October again!  Time to drag those dusty Halloween decorations down from the attic, then load up a horror movie while you carve up some pumpkins.  October also means it's time for Strange Moments in Gaming to transform into Scary Moments in Gaming, where you'll find articles about all sorts of creepy and/or terrifying segments of games.

So let's kick off the month of horror with one of the scariest and most suspenseful games I've played in years: Five Nights at Freddy's.

Freddy Fazbear, your new best friend.

The premise of Freddy's is that you are a security guard who works the night shift at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, a sort of alternate universe Chuck-E-Cheese where instead of a single ugly rat mascot, there are four animatronic animal mascots.

Aww, they are so....unsettling.
So far you might be thinking "hey this isn't so bad, I'm just making sure nobody breaks in and messes with the animatronics."  Upon starting the first night of your job this assumption is quickly shattered as you receive a phone call from a security guard who previously held your job position.  It turns out that after the pizzeria closes for the night, the animatronics are set to a free-roaming mode to prevent their servo motors from locking up (or so the former guard says).

He also notifies you that if any of the mascots see you at night they won't recognize you as a human, but will instead think you are an animatronic who hasn't gotten into costume.  This will result in the mascot forcibly stuffing you into a vacant suit (which is full of various electronics, leaving no room for a human to fit), instantly killing you.  Remember that line in Jurassic Park when Jeff Goldblum states that when Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don't eat the tourists?  Apparently something equally nasty happens in Freddy Fazbear's Pizza.

Anyway, upon starting the game you immediately experience a feeling of helplessness.  The whole game takes place in the pizzeria's surveillance room, where the only movement you are allowed is a slight turning of your head.  So much for running away...

While in the office, you can check out the various cameras to see different locations in the pizzeria, including the room where the animatronics are stored.  You can also light up the doorways to your left and right, just to take a peek at any potential "buddies" standing outside.  There's also a panic button that shuts the doors to the office to prevent the mascots from seeing and killing you.

Now you might be wondering why you can't just lock both doors and wait out the night, and here's where strategy factors into the game.  You are given a limited amount of power, and performing actions such as looking through the security cameras or closing the doors will drain the power at a faster rate.  If the power drains completely, all the lights go out and you're left completely exposed to the horrors patrolling the place.  Therefore you must conserve energy and hope you have enough to keep you alive until 6am.

Basically, the "you're screwed" moment in the game.
Ok, now that we've established the atmosphere (although the only way to do it justice is to experience it yourself), let's talk about a typical night on guard duty.  The night starts off fine and dandy of course, a quick peek at the security cameras shows the animatronics all safe and sound in their room, standing completely still.  Coming back to this camera later will usually show one or more of the mascots have gone missing, which is when the terror begins.

They are all there.....for now.
At this point you have to frantically switch between the various cameras to keep track of which rooms the mascots are currently patrolling in.  A "fun" fact is that on the security cameras you rarely actually see the animatronics move, they will just be standing frozen in a different position each time you check on them.  To screw with you the game includes one camera with audio only, so you can listen to these horrors knocking over pots and pans and various props as they stalk around.

Also to mess with your head, every once in a while a hallucination will quickly pop up on the screen, usually involving one of the animatronics in a disturbing state, such as missing their eyeballs.  You case this game wasn't scary enough already.

Barney the Dinosaur has really let himself go.
Anyway, if you notice that one or more of the mascots is getting a little too close to your office for comfort, it's time to quickly shut the doors and wait for them to go away.  If you don't close up in time, you will be presented with an absolutely terrifying jump scare where one of the mascots will appear directly in front of you and proceed to lunge in your face (one of the only times we actually see them move), causing an instant game over.  I'm not exaggerating about the terror of this jump scare either; the first time it happened to me, I was switching out of security camera view so I could shut the door, only to be greeted by a screaming and biting animatronic in my face.

Warning: Do not play if you have a phobia involving animatronics.
It's the anticipation of this jump scare that makes Five Nights at Freddy's the most suspenseful games in years.  It's all about avoiding this one-hit, wet-your-pants death.  You have a feeling of dread the entire time you're playing, it is seriously stressful.  And as the title suggests, you have to make it through five nights of this, with increasingly difficult AI.

Words really cannot describe the experience of playing Five Nights at Freddy's.  If you have a love of horror games this is a must play.  If you don't have nerves of steel....well I warned you!

For everyone who has already played this game, what did you think of it?  Did you survive all five nights?

1 comment:

  1. This is certainly a funky game. It was an interesting experience as I really wanted to play a game that doesn't make much sense, just to test my limits. Definitely don't think I would survive the five nights.