PlATforms: PC (Steam) Developer and Publisher: Scott Cawthon Release Date: October 7, 2016 MSRP (Price): $7.99
Five Night’s at Freddy’s is one of the dominating survival-horror franchises in only two years. With five games and a novel wrapped under its belt, it’s excellent at creating suspense and overwhelming obstacles, while also weaving in new pieces of lore into each installment to make people’s jaws drop in awe and horror. With the “Very Positive” review of the first four main installments on Steam and the growing excitement from Youtubers and others like me in the fanbase, can Scott Cawthon’s next game ‘Sister-Location’ live up to the expectation?
Sister-Location definitely went in a different direction from the previous four, and was the best thing that Scott Cawthon could’ve made using ClickTeam Fusion and 3Ds Max. While Scott did some different things that were welcomed additions, there were some issues that hopefully he will take note of for his next game to make it perfect. First, let’s start with the graphics.
GRAPHICS, ANIMATRONICS and JUMPSCARES: With each of the games in the franchise, Scott has made them feel more “cinematic”, with each location being more detailed and realistic as each game came out. He also upped the animatronics models, designs, and jumpscares. With ‘Sister-Location’, Scott went beyond what he did with the previous games. Creating the illusion of a 3-Dimensional room in ClickTeam is hard to do (which can be seen in other games created in the program), but by bending the image and adding the amount of detail and modelling that Scott did, it created a sense of “space.” It was very impressive. Also the little details, like interacting with ALL of the displays and buttons, helped with immersing you into the game, making you feel like you had to press buttons to see what happens.
Now the animatronics designs… were fantastic. You could easily tell that these were the most complex and detailed models Scott has ever done in comparison to any of his other games, and I must give huge props to him. The one year wait was well worth it in this department. Also, because of (Spoiler) how their shell opens up to reveal the mangled robot innards beneath allowed Scott to REALLY do something different and fresh with the jumpscares, and boy do they deliver! They work even better, however, with the music, sounds, and the new addition of voice-acting.
MUSIC, SOUND, and VOICE-ACTING: One of my favorite parts of the game is the sounds, music, and inclusion of voice-acting, as it helps build the world of Five Nights at Freddy’s and keep you immersed. The community’s favorite two songs (that are also my personal favorite in any FNAF game) are “Crumbling Dreams” and “Watch Your 6.” They are used in the right times and places as the game gets progressively darker, and aren’t just there to get to you, but are actually sounds that come from the environment and robots that further builds the terror and immersion heavily present. Along with the music, the sounds that transpire from the environment is some of the best in the series, and compliments the music perfectly to keep you on the edge of your seat all the time. Furthermore, the roars heard when jumpscared by an animatronics sounds like a T-rex screeching into your ear, and it’s severely louder from the environment sounds. It’s great. (I had a heart-attack.)
Now: Voice-acting. Everyone, including myself, who has played ‘Sister-Location’ can agree that the inclusion of voice-acting really made this game stand out from the others. In the first three games (the fourth didn’t have any), voice-acting was a thing that existed with Phone-Guy, voiced by Scott Cawthon himself; who explained the game's setting, mechanics, and lore. Now with multiple voices, it allowed Scott more possibilities to tell the story, include humor (which this game had plenty of), and up the scare factor. In my opinion, my favorite voice would have to go to Funtime Freddy, because he easily has the creepiest voice.
GAMEPLAY: Now as I mentioned above, ‘Sister-Location’ tried new things, and while I believe cinematically Scott Cawthon aced it, the gameplay itself needed some work to make this game perfect. Compared to previous games where you sit in an office and repeat strategies as each night became more difficult, this game did different tasks each night to add variety and new challenges. While the idea was great in theory, it wasn’t perfect in practice.
Other than nights two and five, the other three either lacked game-mechanics, had unclear explanations for each new night introduced, or they were just poorly-designed. This is because of one factor: the game is heavily story-driven. With Scott’s choice of making the focus the story, it meant sacrificing some gameplay and free-roam aspect of the game, and instead making a game that was much more linear and condensed. As well, introducing and explaining a new mechanic EACH night for it to only be used once made it very difficult to learn them and made it a frustrating chore to beat all the nights - ESPECIALLY night four.I would’ve preferred that gameplay would stick with surviving for six hours using the same strategies presented for each robot each night, and have the guide “Hand Unit” about how to get past them in the first night. To add variety you’d mix the order the tasks are done within the six hours each night, or mix the location the animatronics are in (Ex: in the parts and service room you’d fix different animatronics each night, place the robots in other rooms, etc). Then at the ending of each night in whatever room you’re in would be where you focus primarily on the lore and different experience in the nights. This could be where you’d run through the building at six A.M. to get to the elevator, or include the scenes jutted in the middle of gameplay (such as the hiding under the desk scenario) to add that last-minute tension and lore into the game. Otherwise, I think Night Five should stay the same, as it had to be linear for the story to work.
STORY/LORE: What made Five Nights At Freddy’s so popular are playthroughs from big Youtubers like Markiplier, but it really started when theorists like MatPat analyzed and tried to piece together the ever-expanding story of the games. With all of the story discovered in ‘Sister-Location’, it adds a new level that changes how you look at the games and even the book, showing things we never would’ve even considered until now.
Although I think the lore in this story overtook some of the gameplay quality, the game’s story was very well-polished and, in my opinion, could easily make this a standalone game. It is a fluid story that makes sense by its ending, and yet also includes little connections with the five games and ‘The Silver Eyes’ - the official novel - for the theorists to analyze and try to solve.
It introduces a huge character from the book to the games named “William Afton”, along with his newly-introduced daughter, the companies Afton owns - “Circus Baby’s Pizza World” and “Afton Robotics” - and the main villain, which isn’t who you think it is from watching the trailer (link under title of article). This game has a ton of twists and eye-opening moments in its story that I was not expecting at all, and really changes the way that you’ll look at everything in the games and novel. Furthermore, the voice-acting really did help with story-telling, making it much creepier to hear it said rather than shown through mini-games (although there is one mini-game). To wrap it up nicely, its story was fantastic - although it may be frustrating for theorists to connect to the bigger picture.
In conclusion, “Five Night’s at Freddy’s: Sister-Location” was a great game-look and story-wise, but it still needed work on its balance between lore and gameplay to have made it perfect. However Scott recently announced that sometime in December, free DLC for a “custom-night” will arrive and be focused on only gameplay, which will satisfy people like me who weren’t as pleased with its handling in the game. While I will be satisfied with the DLC eventually, the way ‘Sister-Location’ stands for me is still great. It’s an amazing way to introduce people to the franchise and await the next game, novel, and movie confirmed to be on its way in the following few years.