Fans of the venerable horror puzzler Five Nights at Freddy's will have something to scream about as the latest iteration of the series arrives on VR headsets at the end of April. I got to play through a few of the levels at a recent PSVR demo event came away sufficiently jump-scared to want to play the rest of the game as soon as it's released.
If you're not familiar with the Five Nights series, its a franchise started in 2014 by developer Scott Cawthon. In the first three games, you play as a night guard at a run-down entertainment center, Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, who must outwit the restaurant's animatronic entertainers, which come alive each night with a taste for human flesh, using various tools and the security camera system. The fourth game was a departure, pitting a small child and their ability to strategically close doors against murderous toys in order to escape their house, while in the fifth you played as a maintenance worker at a sister facility to Fazbear's and had to follow intricate instructions from an AI to survive.
Officially it's titled, Five Nights at Freddy's VR: Help Wanted and the new game is entirely VR-based so you'll need to own a PSVR, Oculus or Vive headset in order to play. That said, you're free to play with either the Move controllers or the regular DualShock 4.
Existing fans of the FNAF franchise will see a whole bunch of familiar animatronic faces. The VR version feels a lot like the original games in the franchise, so dark and dank you can almost feel your shoes sticking to the dried soda on the floor. According to Steel Wool Studios' co-founder Jason Topolski, FANF VR will include 20 puzzles which are based closely on the challenges from the first five FNAF games along with an equal number of original puzzles for a total of 40.
I was able to play two of them during the demo. The first involved repairing and servicing one of the Fazbear's terrifying animatronic singers, which was akin to playing Operation in VR. Having to delicately extract the eyeballs from a murder-bear's robotic head is surprisingly nerve wracking, especially since you don't really have any tactile feedback for what you're doing.
The other challenge set me in an escape room-like situation -- specifically, a darkened air duct inhabited by an animatronic rat dead set on setting me dead. I could ward it off with my headlamp but since I also needed to see what I was doing while twisting various valves, flipping switches and circuit breakers, I'd have to listen for that sneaky bastard to approach from behind and quickly spin around to drive it away before quickly returning to my work. It was a hair-raising experience.
This is a horror game, to be sure. But it's a wholesome sort of horror. There are jump scares galore but none of the gratuitous blood, gore and body horror you'd find in, say, the Dead Space series. Even the antagonist animatronics are goofy looking in the right lighting. But it's in the dark when they're most dangerous.
Five Nights at Freddy's VR: Help Wanted comes to PSVR, Oculus, Steam, and HTC Vive at the end of April and will retail for $30.