You guessed it. This month is horror month. I know that it’s predictable, but what did you guys expect? Just because I go off on random tangents every once in a while, doesn’t mean I don’t think things through. That’s right! Some of those random thoughts were done for a reason. I think. Anyway, we are starting off with one of the most popular series of horror games in the last decade. You know which series I am talking about here. Mainly because I already put it in the title. Although I have always found this series to be a bit unique in its approach to the genre. In the Five Nights at Freddy’s game series, your win condition is simple enough. Don’t die. It sounds reasonable enough right? however, what’s special about this game is that in order to prevent yourself from dying, you have to play the most intense game of Red Light, Green Light ever. Many of you reading probably know of this already, but for those of you that don’t… if you fail, you are greeted with a lovely jump scare from some cuddly? animatronic animals (also known in some circles as animaltronics). Looking at the game objectively, it honestly doesn’t really feel like a horror game. Sure there are horror elements to the games, but for the most part the game is mainly built like it is some sort of tower defense game. Hear me out for just a second and you’ll understand that this game is closer to a management simulator than an actual horror game.
You see, the biggest reason for this is the fact that you are in charge of one location and your goal is survival by outlasting the enemy. Now there are plenty of horror experiences where the goal is to outlast those that are trying to destroy you. However, in those cases you usually have some way of defending yourself. In this series, you have nothing but a few places you need to keep an eye on and a few tricks up your sleeve in case things get a little bit too close for comfort. You don’t really gain anything for going through each night except for more knowledge and experience. Oh, you also get the pleasure of not dying sue to a jump scare. You become more adept in recognizing patterns are become more used how the animatronics work. Although the game will always throw a bit of RNG to make sure you don’t get too comfortable. After all, it is your goal to survive so there needs to be a bit of challenge. Each night the challenge escalates to the point you wonder why anyone would even come back to this crazy nightmare for such dirt-cheap pay. It really is like being an actual manager. All your maintenance goes unappreciated by those animatronics who just want you to fit into an uncomfortable suit. They could be a little more gentle at least.
There is a lot of micromanagement that goes into this game series and it creates a similar sort of tension that we see in horror games. The reason is because the stakes are so high. If you screw up even once it is game over and you have to start the night all over again. The reason why the game pulls this off so well is because it gives you a timer of sorts. They don’t call it a timer, but it is. It is that clock telling you what time it is and more importantly, how much longer until the next day. That tension of trying to survive for as long as possible is made even more strenuous by giving us a tangible way of telling time. Otherwise we would just try not to think about and put all of our effort into survival. The game is basically using this as another way of saying that you have to complete the objective by a certain time, the objective of course is not dying. Doesn’t it seem strange to have a horror game give you a time frame of how long you will be trapped in horror land? Not to mention the fact that you can’t go anywhere and are forced to stay for at least five nights? They even give you the option to extend your stay. Such great service. The whole concept is just so different from how most horror games operate. It still works, but that is due to the theming and secrets involved in the story elements. Otherwise it could very well be set up as a different genre. The developer essentially decided to use this kind of tower defense, management simulation and turned it into a series of spooky games that got multiple people jump scared into oblivion. Maybe in another universe the concept was turned into an entirely different game. Who knows? Thanks for hearing me out everyone. See you next week.