Monday, October 10, 2016

The Allure of Five Nights at Freddy's

The next installment of the franchise, Sister Location, is out now and you can enjoy it on Steam with a 15% discount until October 14th. In a classic Scott Cawthon (the designer behind Five Nights) switch-aroo, the game was reported to be delayed on the 6th. On the 7th, it was released. He's been known to release his games at odd times and without pomp and circumstance to get genuine reactions from gamers. Sister Location is a spin-off of the series and it's Cawthorn's most ambitious project yet. From the opening scenes you can tell that he spent a lot of time developing this game. It looks much more polished then the previous games.

The gamers of the net went bonkers over the release. YouTube videos of live games and walkthroughs were published within hours. People have been pouring over the audio files to figure out the backstory to Sister Location and how it relates to the rest of the Five Nights universe - even so far as to where it is physically settled in the game world.

Five Nights is a thing. Whether you are on board or not, get use to it. It was optioned as a film in 2015, and could easily be a box office winner with it's uniquely unassuming format. What makes it so enjoyable?

It's hard to pinpoint any one feature that makes Five Nights stand out. The jump scares are not original, but they are dynamic. You don't expect them; they tend to occur at the least likely times thus providing more impact. Because of this, gamers spend time worrying about the jump scares that never happen. And there are fake jump scares as well, making you think you have lost the game, only to have you continue on and confront the fear.

The story is fairly straight forward: you play as a night guard watching over the possessed pizza entertainment center, and you have to stop the animatronic baddies before they get you. It's not complicated. But it does make the game feel more real that the game can easily set his/herself in the guard's position.

The graphics are on-par for indie games. Not pixilated. Not really stylized. It'd a dummed down version of BioShock. And frankly, that's what makes it so intriguing. You get the idea of realism while knowing it's a game. Heightens the senses and the scares.

The puzzles are a mixture of challenging and obnoxious. Often times you think you have solved a problem, and it ends up with a "game over" screen. There are multiple endings, different paths for monsters to take, all based on your choices - it keeps the game high up on the replay factor.

It's funny to watch other people play it. Five Nights was made for the YouTube generation. It made Markiplier a house-hold name among gamers. Watching people freak out over the scares, while they panic about shutting down air vents to trap monsters, it's fun. The game delivers on our need for entertainment in short bursts (the games can be completed in a few hours).

Whatever the reason may be, Five Nights is here to stay. I did have a chance to play Sister Location for a little bit, and it is a different game. Much more intense in the fear factor. This round, there is a guide that helps you with the game mechanics for the first few nights. The graphics are polished and it looks like a creepier game from the get-go. The audio is crisp and has some fantastic voice acting. And the puzzles are just as challenging as one would expect. Even if you haven't played Five Nights, I'd recommend giving this one a shot to see what the chatter is all about. Or at least surf to YouTube and watch one of the many videos of the gameplay.

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