The popular horror franchise is back again, but do Freddy and the gang still pack the same pant-wetting punch?
Size: 37.5 MB
Developer: Scott Cawthon
Released just a year on from the first game in the series, Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 is supposedly the final game of the Freddy’s saga. Although we said that back when we reviewed FNAF3, and we’ll probably be saying it again when FNAF5 inevitably hits the shelves around Halloween (you heard it here first).
In the previous games, you play an unfortunate security guard tasked with monitoring the CCTV feeds of a haunted pizza restaurant. This iteration puts a new spin on the formula – you play a child, stuck at home in the dark with nothing to do all night but freak out about the monsters skulking around the house. It’s a more relatable approach that plays on childhood phobias to eke out a few extra doses of anxiety.
Armed only with a flashlight, you must survive the night (well, five nights – plus a couple of ultra-tough bonus levels) without coming into contact with the terrifying animatronics from the previous games. Your room consists of two doors, a wardrobe and a bed, all of which will become host to nightmarish walking toys if they’re not checked up on frequently enough.
In theory the tactics are simple. Repeatedly check the doors for trouble. Hear breathing? Quickly – hold the door shut until whatever it is goes away! No breathing? You’re probably safe – shine the flashlight down the hallway to ward off any nearby threats for a little longer. Rinse and repeat these same actions until daybreak. The speed picks up later in the game but the endless routine quickly feels repetitive and tiresome.
Despite its apparent simplicity, FNAF4 is difficult from the get-go, frustratingly so. Like the previous games, there is no feedback to make it clear if what you’re doing is ‘right’. Often it’s hard to know where you went wrong, especially as there’s seemingly so little to actually do. Gameplay-wise this seems like a regression from FNAF3, which was arguably the most interesting and skill-based game in the series.
FNAF4 relies much more heavily on audio than previous games – the game is completely unplayable on mute. The general atmospheric sound effects are excellent as ever, but this time you’ll need to listen carefully to filter out important audio cues to signal the approach of various animatronics. If you want to survive you’ll need to listen out for footsteps and breathing amidst various spooky clanks and background ambience.
Unfortunately for Freddy fans, the mobile port of this game has been heavily cut in comparison to the earlier PC version. Most notably, the plot-revealing retro mini-games have been completely axed from the iOS release, supposedly due to memory restrictions. This is a big deal, as the increasingly enigmatic and complicated backstory has become a huge point of interest for fans of the series. The animations have been cut down from the PC version as well – although the 3D renderings are still decent enough, in trademark Freddy’s style, it still feels like you’re watching a series of static images rather than a living world.
The sudden jumpscares are back, and if you’re fully immersed – headphones on, lights off – they can still cause a fright. But after four games the impact is nullified a little. It’s still an unsettling, engaging game but unlike the previous entry in the series, there’s nothing particularly new to be afraid of beyond the setting.
Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 is tense, creepy and atmospheric. Unfortunately it’s just not that much fun. Casual players may find themselves bored and confused long before hitting the later levels, and fans of the series will be disappointed by the lack of backstory and missing mini-games. It’s certainly not a bad game, and is more than capable of delivering both thrills and chills, but overall it feels like a step backwards for the franchise.
— TapSmart (@TapSmart) August 25, 2015
- Tense and atmospheric
- Genuinely nerve-wracking
- Tedious gameplay
- Lots of missing content