You cannot call the Five Nights At Freddy’s series an iOS franchise, as the games were also on the PC/Mac. But, the series has dominated the top gaming charts on the App Store for quite some time, a feat for any game that isn’t Minecraft or Candy Crush. So I wanted to do a special and review each of the games in the series and look how it’s evolved over time.
Five Nights At Freddy’s- iOS(Universal)
Horror games usually end up just up being action games with zombies or demons. The limited interaction of the first Five Nights At Freddy’s ensured that you weren’t going to chain-gunning down the undead hordes. Instead you’re scanning cameras for murderous animatronic characters, barring the doors when they get too close.
This is a pretty simple game, but the grainy animations and near silence makes the atmosphere as creepy as possible. You have to survive five nights, with each night the animatronics are more aggressive with their movements. Your seemingly clueless manager also leaves you messages each day with more information on why the animatronics are so eager to shove you into a suit. You will need to manage the power levels to your doors and cameras, as if they run out you die immediately.
I will admit that most of the punchlines in Five Nights At Freddy’s are jump scares. This isn’t a long creepy psychological examination like Silent Hill. However, that would mean dismissing Halloween for not being Rosemary’s Baby. This is a good casual take on horror, and starts a trilogy of games that have been the biggest games in horror since the original Resident Evil.
What’s Good: Atmospheric, excellent use of limited resources to creatively tell a story.
What Sucks: Relies on jump scares, limited replay value.
Buy it?: This is the place that the franchise begins, but it is also a great study in design with limited resources. Grab Five a Nights At Freddy’s on the App Store for $2.99.
Five Night’s At Freddy’s 2 – iOS(Universal)
Often sequels get a bigger budget, but forget what made the first game so unique. Five Nights At Freddy’s 2 manages to build on the original game in a way that’s interesting. Most of this is from the improved graphics, there still isn’t much animation in the game. However when you see the animatronics crawling around their faces are controrted into horrific grimaces.
The map is also larger. There are more rooms and more places to keep track of on your camera. The larger space makes things more tense when you’re worried about tracking two or three animatronics at a time. There is also a new enemy, The Marionette. To keep him from appearing you’ll need to keep a music box wound in the prize area. You do this via the camera, which is explained away via some hand waving in the introduction.
In the first game you had to defend yourself via two doors that consumed your power, as did the video cameras. You only manage power for the newly added flashlight, but you also lose your doors. Instead you have vents on each side which act as final stops before you lose. You can stop some of the animatronics via flashing your light at them. Not all of them are deterred this way, the others are held off with a Freddy mask that convicnes them that you’re already an animatronic character. Trying to figure out the weaknesses of each of the characters is a bit trail and error, but I was greateful for the added variety. This game isn’t necessarily harder, but the variety it added makes the game have more depth.
What’s Good: Bigger stage, more strategy
What Sucks: Though the atmosphere is improved, still relies heavily on jump scares
Buy it?: If you’re a fan of the first one, or even cut the first one short for lack of variety, check out Five Nights At Freddy’s 2. Download it on the App Store for $2.99.
Five Nights At Freddy’s 3 – iOS(Universal)
Five Nights At Freddy’s 3 takes the series back to basics, stripping out many of the additional things at were added in the second game. That doesn’t mean that you’re back to the basic door and light set up. You now manage the cameras on two different maps—the regular map and the ventilation units. You can also seal the animatronics in the ventilation shafts trapping them. The biggest change is that a single scare doesn’t kill you any more. You can now get scared and survive as long as you don’t get attacked a second time before your heart slows down.
This is the first game in the series that embraces the cheap horror movie nature of the games, as it is set in a haunted house attraction built out of the remnants of the old Freddy’s franchises. Like John Hammond they spared no expense in recreating everything, including the murderous robots seeing to stuff you inside a costume. They also hired a hapless guy to watch the cameras at night and try not to get murdered. The old training tapes give you more details about the old Freddy’s.
I am not sure if this is the last game we’ll see in the series, but it does a good job tying the series up into a consistent mythology. The idea that no one would catch on to the horrific nature of the animatronics is silly, but playing it off as hipster kitsch that kept it going is really funny. The game still has plenty of scares. I think that adding the kitsch factor actually helps the jump scares tonally when compared to the rest of the story.
What’s Good: New tone helps the game feel more cohesive, still expands upon the world of the original games
What Sucks: Purists may not like the new second chance life system.
Buy it?: You made it this far, survive one more working week with Five Night’s At Freddy’s 3. Pick it up on the App Store for $2.99.