Developer/Producer: Scott Cawthorn
Platform: Steam, iOS, Android
Platform Reviewed on: Steam
Five Night’s at Freddy’s as a series is known mostly for two things: jumpscares and its intense difficulty. If either of those bother you, you can stop reading right now; this game isn’t for you. Five Night’s at Freddy’s and its sequel were Internet phenomenons last year, getting huge attention from Youtubers such as Markiplier and the Game Grumps. Earlier this month, the third title in the indie survival horror game was released with high expectations, but did it deliver? Let’s explore the darkness (literally and figuratively in this case) and discuss what makes and breaks Five Night’s at Freddy’s 3 for your typical gamer.
Much like in the first two games, this third outing the FNaF series puts you in the role of a night security guard haunted by animatronics. You mostly play the game by checking cameras and setting up defensive strategies (which I’ll briefly discuss soon enough) to defend yourself from Springtrap, this game’s antagonistic pile of scrap. When looking at the cameras, you might notice that this game is pretty similar to the others in basic concept– that is, you use the cameras to keep tabs on Springtrap while trying to deal with any problems that arise. While he is on camera, Springtrap appears in one of two set positions on that camera, similar to the other games in the series. When Springtrap moves, he disrupts the cameras and you may have to look for him again. However, a welcome addition to this game is a level of animation that wasn’t present in the previous titles. While he is outside (or inside, rarely) your office Springtrap has some moving animations, although they are extremely fast to add to the difficulty of catching him. Still, the first few times you see Springtrap move are very unsettling though sadly he lacks animated movement on camera like Foxy had in the first game. Still, adding the animation was a nice touch. A few of the hallucinations have some animations beyond jumpscares too, which is an added cool factor.
Hallucinations, which are a recurring gameplay element in the series, play a major role in this title. While FNaF3 only sports the one animatronic, many of the previous ones return to haunt you in spectral and are triggered by various actions, though mostly from an initial hallucination on camera feeds. The ghosts of The Puppet, Chica, Balloon Boy, and Mangle all appear on camera before appearing in your office to deliver a jumpscare and disable your systems (which I’ll discuss later). Freddy appears outside your office window and slowly hobbles across while leering at you through the glass before delivering his, and Foxy appears seemingly at random in your office. Sometimes you might even get attacked by two ghostly animatronics in your office at once! They can really take you by surprise if you aren’t looking for their visual cues on camera. At any rate, whenever a phantom animatronic appears, they disable your ventilation and sometimes other systems which then need to be rebooted taking valuable time away from keeping an eye on Springtrap and your defenses.
Each Five Nights at Freddy’s game has a different method of defense, and in this title you use sound as your primary weapon. Springtrap moves very quick, even in early nights, but using the audio in a room near him will draw the animatronic to that room and keep him there for several seconds. While the game doesn’t exactly explain this to you very well, it is mentioned on the audio played on Springtrap’s first active night that the animatronics are attracted to the sound of children, and sure enough your audio system uses Balloon Boy’s childish voice to attract your wayward pursuer, which is a nice touch as in FNaF2 Balloon Boy uses his audio to accelerate other animatronics in their pursuit of fatally stuffing you into a suit. You have one other defense, which is sealing air vents in a way similar to shutting doors in the first game, with the restriction that you may only seal one vent route at a time. Sealing vents is critical in preventing death as Springtrap will use them as shortcuts to get directly to you. At any rate, you don’t feel quite as defenseless in this title as you did in the second, where you were armed with nothing but a flashlight and a mask. However, using your audio will eventually cause it to fail; using you camera will eventually cause that to fail too, giving Springtrap time to close the gap with different routes.
Unlike in others in the series, you have two monitors in FNaF3: one for cameras and one for monitoring your systems. If any of your systems happens to fail (and they will) you have to close your camera, swing to the other side of the office, and open your system monitor to reboot the problem device. Rebooting a system takes a few nerve-wracking seconds and allows Springtrap to enter your office while you’re distracted. Having the failing systems also prevents you from just keeping Springtrap locked in place with audio. While you don’t NEED to have your camera or ventilation operational in order to keep Springtrap at bay, not having them makes you more vulnerable as you can’t track Springtrap without the camera (unless he is right outside your office) and faulty ventilation makes you easier to kill. Your audio, as you main weapon, should be reset immediately when it goes out because you are nearly defenseless without it.
I think that this dynamic is much more interesting than in the other games, where you often end up checking only a few of the cameras that are important and then checking blindspots in the office. In contrast, losing track of Springtrap for any amount of time leads to a frenzied rundown of all the rooms and cameras while he is bolting toward you, as he could be in any one of the camera feeds at any time. It certainly makes for a more “organic” experience, if I may call it that, because you don’t have the luxury of sticking to a specific formula or counting on specific animatronics only being on certain feeds.
The retro-style minigames also return from FNaF2, and I was excited to try them out. They are activated in a different way than before, and I won’t spoil how, but you always get one of them after you complete a level. This leads you to an 8bit rendition of the original game’s Fazbear’s Pizza, and you get to explore the layout a little in a way you didn’t get to earlier in the series. There are secrets to be found and used, and some unexpected things may occur not just during the after-level games but during the others as well. Like I said, I don’t want to ruin it. However, I’ll say at least that playing through the minigames has more importance than just lore or weirdness this time.
Like I mentioned at the beginning, Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 is pretty darn hard, though no harder than the others in the series. Still, for people put off by constant and repeated failure, this can be very frustrating. Being an expert in the other games may help a little bit, but the dynamic in this title is a little different so you can’t just get “in a groove” and expect to sail through, especially once you get interrupted by repeated system failures. People who are uneasy with jumpscares or those that suffer from seizures probably shouldn’t play this game either, as flashing lights and gruesome robots unexpectedly jumping at you are fairly common and often happen at the same time.
The game doesn’t give the player very much direction either. The first two nights give a lot of information on gameplay hidden within the audio, and it is easy to miss the important bits within all the lore. While gameplay mechanics in previous games was also hinted at in much the same way, the didn’t give it out in such large amounts at once. This is probably why the first night is set up the way it is (I’m trying really hard not to spoil things) so players can get used to the setup of the game before being thrown into real danger. Speaking or direction, be aware that this isn’t a game that you can explore beyond the cameras and your office. Like in the other FNaF games you cannot leave you office or even your seat (and why would you when your only defense is there?). Still, this might not be the kind of game everyone is looking for.
Lacking difficulty in the first night actually is a huge negative for me, as it feels like I was cheated out of a night, and in a game called Five Night’s at Freddy’s, you might imagine there aren’t very many of these levels to get through. Even more disappointing is a lack of a custom night. While there is a new menu that unlocks after beating the game that allows the player to mess with the difficulty in some ways, a lack of a true “night 7” is a big let down.
I’m also not a huge fan of the animatronics’ redesigns for this game. While I did like the creepy, damaged “old models” from FNaF2, the damaged ghost animatronics in this title don’t appeal to me as much, mostly because of their flat, burnt-looking skins. While the animatronics and their jumpscares themselves look great, and I really like the damage that makes them appear undead, I just didn’t enjoy the “burnt” appearence they have, and I wish they retained more of their original colors instead of the brown, green, and orange that permeates the entire game.
Finally, unlike the progressive nature of the other titles that add more animatronics as the nights progress, this one just accelerates the speed of Springtrap and the frequency of malign hallucinations. I feel like that is almost lazy, in a way, and while they do technically add more “phantom animatronics” as the nights progress, they usually don’t pose any direct danger to the player beyond acting as a distraction and disabling your systems, and therefore most of them feel very much the same.
I have been having a blast with Five Nights at Freddy’s 3, and I am curious to see if Mr. Cawthorn has plans for future titles in the series. He certainly has made a pretty penny on sales, so it wouldn’t surprise me, but I would also like to see him expand and do more games or try out different styles. If you enjoyed the other Five Nights at Freddy’s games, you won’t be disappointed in this one. If you haven’t played the previous titles, I think that you should probably try them before getting into this one as most of the lore either won’t make sense or won’t mean too much. The concepts are also better explained in the earlier titles and each subsequent game builds off what the previous ones have done.
For those of you without Steam, there is a mobile version, too. Just like all the other games in the series, Five Night’s at Freddy’s 3 was released for Android and Apple devices on both Google Play and App Store, and its pretty cheap no matter what platform you purchase it on, which is great. Also, like the other games, the mobile version has slightly faster nights but more aggressive AI. Otherwise it is more or less the same, with slightly different mini-game mechanics and a some aesthetic changes to the cameras to accommodate a smaller game file.
I can solidly give this game an 8/10. While I really like this series, there are many elements in it that make it unappealing to other gamers such as the lack of freedom and difficulty. This also isn’t a super long game, consisting of only five “real” levels and one tutorial, but the replay value is there for those who crave a hard game. Personally, I really enjoyed this foray into horror, and I felt like it was an intense game of Hide-and-Seek as opposed to the previous titles which were more like OCD inducing anger machines. But I digress. Its a great game and if you like horror and difficulty it is definitely worth a shot, especially for the low price you can get it.