So you’re busy, you’ve got about an hour before you have to deal with some stuff in the real world. That world into which we rarely venture. I understand that some people, for bizarre reasons, don’t have the time to sit down and play six straight hours of Skyrim or Mass Effect 3 and so while I do not understand I suppose I should take pity on them and offer them some solace. Thus here comes the next article in our series of Some Ideas for Your Little Minutes. These articles will be of games (or perhaps betas of games) that we can’t rightfully give full reviews, because we don’t classify them as full games. But importantly these games will not be something you need to sit down and focus on for hours on end!
The first of our offerings is yet another small, indie horror game (I promise you we play other things) this time from developer Scott Cawthon. His latest project, Five Nights at Freddy’s, is a horror game which has taken the internet by storm in a way that hasn’t happened since Slender. It’s also a game which, frankly, deserves even more recognition and attention because it was genuinely the scariest thing I’ve played in a long time.
In FNAF you play as a recently hired security guard for the Freddy Fazbear’s Restaurant, sitting alone at night in the security booth and keeping an eye on the premises with the aide of a series of security cameras throughout the building. Unluckily for you, at night the animatronic and anthropomorphic creatures which act as entertainers during the day have to be let loose during the night. These robots wander the halls and should they reach you they will force you into a robot suit, pushing your brains through all the servos like a sieve in the process. To prevent your own gruesome demise you have to keep an eye on the robots and lock the doors to your security booth if they come too close, all the while conserving the limited amount of power you have to last you until the morning.
Of course, the reason that FNAF is so perfect for the internet is because it is very much along the same formula as Slender in that playing through one of the five levels (each night is a level) takes about 10 minutes and absolutely every single one of those minutes is rife with pant-wetting terror and utterly horrific jump-scares. This makes it ideal for Let’s Plays and other videos of the like because it is fast, punchy and inevitably amusing to watch other people play it. This also makes it very good for playing if you have very little time because you can quickly play through one night and then leave it in order to pick up your progress later (assuming you survive).
However, while on the surface FNAF might appear like more Slender-esque jump-scare fun (I.e. scary for the first few times you play it but inevitably becoming boring and predictable) I would argue that FNAF actually offers something a lot more genuinely scary as opposed to simply shocking. It’s a game which is a master of the subtlety which can rule in survival horror games. It does not do the brash and in-your-face constant pressure of Slender, and instead keeps you on edge mostly through far more indirect means. The monsters also far less predictable than Slendy in that each has it’s own set of behaviors and keeping an eye on all three/four of them means a very tense and heart-pounding experience. The simple fact that you can’t move also adds another layer of helplessness on top of the layers already present from previous indie horrors like the lack of weapons and dubious lighting.
The look of the game is pretty perfect as well, the sort of 80’s vibe along with dodgy electronics and animatronics create an excellent atmosphere. It’s also one of the very few games where no matter how long one stares at one of the robots they never lose that edge of terror. This is because Scott Cawthon has relied upon the tried and tested method of corrupting something childish and innocent, a method which inevitably produces some of the scariest and most teeth-clenching results.
It’s a game which I think won’t lose it’s edge even after multiple attempts, a game which still might not quite reach the same levels of terror as bigger and more in-depth games, but one which still provides an outstanding addition to a genre which has become very saturated in recent years.
If you are interested one can buy the game from the website I linked above, or Steam, for ~$5. If you still aren’t sold then you should really check out my first attempt at playing the game (with, I suspect, more attempts to follow):
Our other offering for you today is just to prove that we DON’T just play horror games and is the delightfully simple but amusing Mini Metro by Dinosaur Polo Club. It’s a lighthearted and enjoyable strategy, puzzle game in which you have to link up various underground stations via a number of train lines in order to carry passengers from the various stations to where they need to go.
Both graphically and mechanically it’s a very minimalistic game but that ought not to affect your enjoyment of the experience as it looks rather nice with it’s clean-cut and colourful style and it has everything it needs to provide a variety of what appear to be surprisingly challenging puzzles. It’s light, it’s quick and accessible but it also seems like it can become very difficult with a learning curve which starts to climb ever higher as you progress, meaning it will not only tax your wits but also the speed and efficiency with which you can set up your metro service.
Like FNAF, Mini Metro is available on Steam for ~£5 and, like FNAF if you still are not completely sold on the concept then you really ought to check out out Let’s Play of the game which shows off the gameplay to a far greater extent than I could ever possibly describe.