The Fear In Five Nights At Freddy’s
I was recently told that Five Nights at Freddy’s is a good example of game design and a pretty freaky experience. Naturally I was curious and wanted to challenge myself to take on the game. It was something that I had intended to try, but after the release of the first game I sort of forgot about it (I didn’t even realize there were 3 games in total.) It’s odd because I’ve found that I’m not really that keen on the game, but at the same time it has become a thing of fascination. In the game you are a security guard keeping an eye on the animatronics during the night shift. All the player can do is close a door on either side, flick two lights on and off and check the camera feeds. The problem is that you have limited power to perform these tasks. It’s a fairly unique concept compared to the other horror games I’ve played. The type of tension I felt was different somehow. Usually I am walking myself into the danger, like willingly wandering through the dark wards of Mount Missive Asylum or moving deeper into the bowels of Brennenburg castle. I frequently have a moment of consolidating myself from within a closet ‘this is just a game’ before putting myself back into that vulnerable situation. In Five Nights At Freddy’s there are no closets to hide in, I’m just waiting for them to come to me with limited potential to stop them. For me the whole waiting concept is both effective and problematic. On the earlier nights the tension occurs before encountering the animatronics. The sound effects and visuals all help to create that sense of paranoia and vulnerability. Even though the A.I becomes more aggressive later on it’s actually scarier on the first three nights. I was fearful of having my first encounter, but at the same time I wanted them to come because otherwise the gameplay felt a little slow. Later on the game had the opposite problem of sometimes being too frantic. There was little time to build up the tension because I had so many checks to make (from what I’ve seen of the second game it suffers greatly from this.) – See Extra Credits: How Horror Games Create Tension Cycles. Like most horror games, it also struggles once you develop an understanding of how the mechanics work, even though there is an element of randomness to it. The game involves a lot of jump scares, often in the form of a face popping up and making a loud noise; Once again these are handled differently to what I have experienced before. The jump scare usually only comes as a result of failure and so much of the tension is from wanting to avoid them. In other games the jump scares are often unavoidable as they happen while you progress; This jolts me in a different way as I may still have to react to something that is putting my character in danger. For that reason the jumps in Five Nights At Freddy’s didn’t affect me too badly as they are immediately followed by a game over screen. In a game like Outlast I’ll either freeze or go into flight mode. That being said, I enjoy horror more for that deep sense of atmosphere rather than the tension created through jump scares. The one moment that I do especially enjoy in Five Nights At Freddy’s is during 5 AM when you’re starting to run out of power. You have to survive till 6 AM or start the night over. I like that sort of close adrenaline rush, like the chases in Outlast or in The Evil Within when you have to rotate those valves and The Keeper is growing in the background and getting closer. It’s during those times that I get the urge to shout at the screen, ‘COME ON… GO FASTER.’ On so many occasions I was close to completing the night, but was caught just before that 5 ticked over to 6 – dammit Freddy. Five Nights At Freddy’s is an interesting concept that offered a slightly different horror experience to what I’ve come to expect. It is freaky to begin with, but not in a ‘gets under your skin’ sort of way. While taken at face value this might not seem too bad, looking into the back story certainly adds to the creepiness of it all. Then again, fear is subjective.