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The chills and discomfort of Five Nights at Freddy’s – review

In view of the terror that will ravage our lives with the arrival of virtual reality headsets, the genre of horror video games is pleasantly making a comeback. The fear generators that now arrive with some regularity offer more or less something for everyone, even if most of them put us in the shoes of a defenseless protagonist in the halls of a psychiatric hospital, or an abandoned city, or a cemetery or in short. one of the typical places for the genre.

Five Nights at Freddy’s breaks this cliché starting with the setting, Freddy’s pizzeria. It is a cheerful family restaurant designed for birthday parties and evenings immersed in screaming children, made even more enjoyable by the many entertainers scattered around the rooms. We have the duck friend, the cute rabbit, the plump bear and that crazy fox mine, which in fact ended up being repaired. But where is the fear?

Simple, we are the night watchman called to watch over the club but above all the automatons, which come to life at night and wander around the halls and corridors. There would be no problem here if it weren’t for the fact that the puppets suffer from a bug that makes them attack every human being they meet at night, including the guardian.

The player is immobile in a room with two entrances on the sides and the only options offered are the control of the security cameras scattered around the pizzeria, the activation of some lights to illuminate the entrances to the control room, and the metal security doors which can be tightened as needed. All activities consume electricity, essential for controlling the movements of the automata and above all for closing the doors if they are too close, energy that once finished leaves the player completely helpless in the hope that nothing will happen.

To win, you just need to survive five nights in a row but it’s not that easy. At the beginning, you check all the cameras frantically, you want to keep an eye on the situation down to the smallest detail, but nothing moves. The puppets remain still in their initial positions, and begins to make their way in a bit of anguish, also aided by the electricity that is quickly consumed by our every action.

Then you play in defense, you try to stay still a bit but the tension grows and you can’t help but check out the screens every now and then and that’s when one of the animatrons shows up in a different room, maybe staring at the lens with a creepy look.

It is not exactly fear that comes when playing Five Nights at Freddy’s , but rather an uncomfortable feeling that increases with the unpredictable (or almost) moving of the puppets for the pizzeria, closer and closer to our room. The gameplay then focuses on resource management, on the balance between control and waiting, so as to maintain energy reserves until 6 in the morning.

In addition to the tension that begins to breathe when the movements to keep an eye on increase, there is also room for some old-fashioned fright, those from the sudden noise and face of the puppet that comes out of nowhere, which however correspond to the gameover and that so they shouldn’t be that frequent to get into the mechanics.

But how is it possible that theoretically plump and pleasant puppets are scary? The mechanism exploited by independent developer Scott Cowthon seems to be based on the research of the Japanese robotics scholar Masahiro Mori on the uncanny valley, the ‘uncanny zone’.

According to Mori, the more a robot (but also an object in general) is endowed with human characteristics, the more we like it. A nice pair of big eyes, a mustache, a smile, are all elements that bring us closer to objects that otherwise would leave us indifferent and the more there are, the better, at least until we get to build too human objects.

There are combinations of somatic characteristics (but not only) that confuse our perception according to Mori, and then we are no longer at ease in front of automata that are neither clearly fake nor clearly human. The puppets that animate Freddy’s restaurant exploit this mechanism with their anthropomorphic aspect, complete with teeth in the mouth and eyes that look at us determinedly, remaining in the balance between the human and the non-human and subtly disturbing us.

The idea behind the game, therefore, is not bad at all, starting from the original setting to arrive at a simple gameplay but not without interesting ideas. The problem, however, is that the title quickly wears out its novelty effect and the experience translates into a one-night pastime that could even be worth the 5 Euros required for some, but that will hardly be able to please everyone.

Five Nights at Freddy’s has a personal approach to the horror genre and this is definitely a plus, but a good idea is not enough to convince 100%. Our advice is to give it a chance if you are fond of scares and anguish, otherwise this does not seem to be the title that will make you change your mind.

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