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FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S III Review: Freaky Freddy

Five Nights at Freddy’s creator Scott Cawthon may churn out fright fests quicker than players will change their underwear, but that’d be all for naught if the point and click horror series lost its fear factor. For newcomers, FNaF 3 is as terrifying as ever, but veterans may find that some of the shock tactics are wearing a little thin.

FNaF 3 picks up 30 years after Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza closed its doors, and the horrible events that took place within have faded to memory and urban legend. An industrious bunch decide to start-up “Fazbear’s Fright: The Horror Attraction” and eventually, they get a hold of one of the old animatronics. You’re the lucky bugger hired as a security guard, ready to keep an eye on the exhibit and make sure none of the patrons cause any ruckus, but as it turns out, something is keeping an eye on you… and it sort of wants to stuff your body into an animatronic suit and grant you a horrible, messy death.

Third Times the Harm

The first Freddy’s game was all about resource management, making sure that your power lasted so you could use the cameras to keep tabs on the puppet menace, and saving enough for those all-important security doors, if Freddy and friends got a little too close for comfort. The second was all about reflexes. You had to be quick enough to pop your mask on and hide in your suit if the animatronics caught up with you. The third game does away with any illusions of being able to hide or shield yourself in any way. You’re in a security office with no way to lock the door.

You’re only up against one robot, but you’ve got a slew of malevolent spirits to contend with, too. You can distract the bot with sound, keep tabs on him with a camera, and shut down the vents if he tries to crawl towards you that way. Each system – the cameras, the ventilation, and the audio distractions can break down, the ghosts can freeze you in place and obscure your view, and while you’re waiting for the cameras to repair or the ventilation doors to come back on, you’ll hear your re-animated, demonic quarry crawling through the vents above your head, and no matter how often you get grabbed by the beasty, you’ll never get used to that jump scare.

While the previous games had you contend with more than one monster, you’d think that resorting to just one robot would make things easier, but this isn’t the case and the game is difficult to a fault. While it’s great to see the system behind the scares is robust and involves genuine skill, management, and spatial awareness, the difficulty often wanders into brutally unfair. Often, finishing a day depends entirely on luck rather than your own skill and the roll of the dice can cause you to get mangled within less than an in game hour into the more difficult days.

The game saves at the start of each day, so you don’t have to take the rogue-like approach, but still, some difficulty tweaking would have been nice, especially since, like the previous titles in the series, FNaF 3 boasts a variety of endings to achieve and reasons to revisit its short running time.

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Sound is an integral part of the FNaF franchise, and you’re doing the game and yourself a major disservice if you don’t play without some sort of excellent ear furniture. Often, the robot’s activities within the game are broadcast by the excellent sound design making it a tactical adventure too.

The metallic scrape and shuffle of the animatronic moving through the ventilation shafts while you’re stuck frantically trying to repair them will make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. FNaF 3 retains the same low graphical fidelity of the previous games. Everything is a mix of static, LED screens, and out-dated technology.

Even the eerie between day mini-games are like old Amiga 2600 affairs. The ante has been upped slightly through a range of dynamic animations of spectral animatronics creeping just beyond your field of vision. The graphics are still nothing to write home about, but as is par for the course for the series, it doesn’t take pixels to make you pee your pants. It’s a shame though, because more development time could allow for a more developed experience, mixing low fi with hyper real graphics like Alien Isolation did so well.

Finishing up with Freddy

The problem with FNaF 3 is a feeling of been there, done that, and while there are notable improvements to the actual gameplay, the entire premise still seems geared towards getting Twitch players and YouTubers to scream at their cameras and rack up the views.

While the FNaF series has its own strange lore and a plethora of Easter Eggs, most of these are lost on the average player. While the terror and the strange sense of humour will linger long after you’ve grown weary of the uneven mix of luck and skill. Cawthon has pledged that this will be the last game in the series, and excluding any major overhauls or refreshments to the formula, FNaF should collect its pay check and quit before it’s too late.

 

Story:

  • Set 30 years after the events of FNaF 2, which was a prequel to FNaF 1, which certainly isn’t convoluted at all.
  • Filled with Easter Eggs, and meta references to the other games of the series, but most of it will go over the heads of the average player.
  • There’s an excellent sense of a world outside of the video camera feed, even if most of it is obscure. The pre-recorded calls at the start of each day have lost some of their novelty too.

Gameplay:

  • The controls are simple, immediately easy to grasp.
  • There’s surprising subtlety and depth to the gameplay, hampered by unfairness and the luck of the draw.

Visuals:

  • Nothing to trouble the Triple A titles, but keeps in with the Chuck E Cheese, 90’s aesthetic, even if it takes place in the future.
  • The puppets are terrifying, the ghosts are even worse. After repeated deaths it all feels a bit samey, though.
  • Grain on the cameras is used perfectly to obscure vision, and the dark, low-fi camera feeds really up the tension.
3 out of 5 stars

3 out of 5 stars

 

Cover image via

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Categories: Video Game Reviews

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