Five Nights at Freddy's uses careful audio cues to announce when the mechanical monsters that prowl the building you're locked inside are about to rip off your face - but unfortunately, it took me around an hour to realise that.
Why? Because after racking up a grand total of four fear-quits just fifteen minutes into the game, I decided that the best course of action was to set up a playlist of the most cheerful music Spotify could find, and run it at half-volume as I played.
Honestly, it's a scientific fact that being devoured by a six-foot mass of robotic horror intent on jamming your head into a metal contraption until your "frontal lobe is crushed" is significantly less scary when set against Outkast's seminal Hey Ya!If there was ever an excuse to hand in your P45…
It's still fist-chewingly terrifying though. Five Nights at Freddy's revolves around a simple pretence: watch some security cameras.
You are the new lackey hired by Freddy's restaurant (a Chuckie Cheese type establishment) to guard the animatronic animals. These creatures may entertain children young children by day, but thanks to a technical glitch that means they can never be switched off, they spend their nights wandering the darkened halls.
That wouldn't be so bad, but unfortunately the toys are morbidly curious about humanity's inability to be stuffed into a spare animatronic suit without crumpling into a bloody pulp.
Despite being a security guard, you don't possess many useful skills for fending off the hulking stalkers that lurk in the shadows. You can't shoot them, punch them, or rip pipes from the wall to clobber them with.
Your only means of defence are two buttons that control the metal doors which seal you inside your control room, a pair of flickering hallway lights, and a CCTV ecosystem.
Unfortunately all three are severely limited thanks to your stingy boss's reluctance to pay for enough electricity to keep the lights on and safety doors down at all times.Are you afraid of the dark?
While the AI isn't an ode to procedural unpredictability, it really doesn't need to be. The game's "less-is-more" approach means your stalkers will either make a beeline straight towards your hide-hole, or toy around with you, blinking from camera to camera before closing in for the kill.
You never see them move, only their bulging eyes shining in the darkness of as they creep towards your hideout.
Still, after playing through long enough it's easy to learn each robot's pattern of behaviour, which makes tracking them a lot easier and slightly dampens the tension. Only slightly though - you'll be damp enough already from the sheen of terror sweat on your brow.
The audio is positively chilling. Everything is silent, except for the gentle hum of the fan, the rasping static of the CCTV, and the warning clank of an approaching creature.
The CCTV's frustrating fuzziness is also deliberate, and means you'll constantly be squinting at darkened corners, unsure if there's a monster lurking there or if it's just a poster from the day's entertainment.
Then there's the fact that you can't control the cameras. Instead they pan from side to side on a continuous loop. It means there'll be points where you're forced to sit tight and wait for the camera to swing back to a particular spot - when all you want to do is flick wildly between feeds and cry for your Mother.
Throw on top an eerie glitch which means when you open up your phone from standby you'll normally be met by the crackling static of the game's home page (even if you haven't played it that day) and you'll see why Five Nights at Freddy's comes with a "not for the faint hearted" warning stamped firmly across the screen.
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