Jack In The Box: Five Nights At Freddy’s 3

Will I never learn?

RPS Towers, two days ago

Pip: Oh look, a new Five Nights At Freddy’s game [official site]*.

Adam: There are so many. I can’t play them all. There isn’t enough liquor in the world.

Pip: This isn’t one for Alice’s Encyclopædia Animatronica. It’s Five Nights At Freddy’s 3.

Adam: OK. I’m going in.

I shouldn’t have gone in.

When I was a kid, I had two toys that provided me with a lifetime of nightmares. Some people got burned by the nightmare fuel in the Dark Crystal, but I filled up my tank with a Worzel Gummidge doll and the Tomy game, Pop-up Pirate. For anyone who knows Worzel Gummidge, the former should be self-explanatory.

For those who don’t, imagine a rubbery, living scarecrow with a collection of detachable heads. Gummidge was all the most terrifying parts of Return to Oz crossed with the most terrifying parts of Last of the Summer Wine and Emmerdale’s Dingle family. Now imagine what happens when one of the sack-like googly-eyed heads is lying in the middle of the floor while you’re trying to go to sleep one night, and you end up staring it in the eyes, convinced it will move as soon as you blink.

I didn’t dare sleep. I was convinced the body was crawling around under the bed, searching for a head to plant on its rotten guano-clogged neck-stump.

No thanks. I'm good over here!

Forget the scarecrow though because Pop-up Pirate is the toy I came here to discuss. A pirate sits in a barrel and children take turns to stab him. In principle, they’re trying not to stab him, I suppose, but eventually one of them will, and he’ll respond by popping out. Not “popping out” in the manner of Alan Partridge wearing a pair of vintage shorts – “popping out” in the manner of a hideous, wounded Jack in the Box.

Considering my abiding fear of Buckaroo, I’m probably never going to understand the kind of mind that thinks a scary clown in a box is a fun toy for children to play with. You wind the handle and then wait for something terrible to happen. There’s a reason the bastard things are called “diable en boîte” in France. It’s because they’re evil.

Five Nights At Freddy’s reminds me of the toys that scared me and that’s probably because it IS a toy that scares me. Creator Scott Cawthon has noted the heat of the iron and is striking fast and hard – I don’t blame him. The third game, now released, changes the rules slightly but sticks with the now-familiar formula. A security guard (you) listens to creepy/comic answering machine messages, and then attempts to survive a night in a dilapidated attraction with a population of terrifying animatronic murder-machines.

Is Freddy wearing a monocle or does he simply have reflective eyes so that his victims can see their final moments cast back at them? Either way it's a lotta fun

The viewpoint is first-person but the player character doesn’t move. There are cameras to keep track of enemies and devices to distract and blockade. Prevent the horrors from reaching your room and you move onto the next night to do it all over again, with extra hallucinations and increasingly agitated animatronics.

This time around, the setting isn’t a restaurant – it’s a horror attraction BASED on the Freddy Fazbear restaurant. Thirty years after the closure of the world’s grottiest pizza parlour – on grounds of murderous machines stuffed with corpses – a bunch of absolute nincompoops decide to hunt down as many original props and machines from the restaurant as they can find, and install them in a creepy building.

The idea is that people will pay to walk through the building, screaming in delight and tittering with glee right up until the moment a metal bear skeleton cracks their arms and legs, and forces their body into a fursuit full of knives. It’s fucking Pop-up Pirate all over again, except this time I’m the pirate.

If Freddy or his friends catch me, not only will I have to endure their weirdly corroded shrieks and should-be-funny-by-now-but-aren’t jumpscares, I’ll also end up broken and contorted, acting as a robot’s guts. No thanks.

Beak + big snaggly teeth = NO

I shouldn’t have installed Five Nights At Freddy’s 3. Playing it, I feel exactly as if I’m staring at a Jack in the Box, waiting for the world to end. Maybe I have a nervous condition but I used to find those screamer websites that were popular for a while absolutely devastating. Psycho put people off motel showers, Jaws made going for a swim seem unwise and Ring made unmarked VHS tapes a thing of terror – screamers convinced me that I should avoid the internet for a few days.

ACtually, Freddy’s is worse than a Jack in the Box because it’s full of levers to pull, buttons to push and handles to wind – all of them exist to prevent the Jack from emerging. Imagine a Jack in the Box so terrifying that anyone trapped in a room with it is piling objects onto the box, trying to hammer nails into the lid. Doing anything possible to stop the thing from bursting out and stabbing everyone in sight to death. That’s Five Nights At Freddy’s.

It almost doesn’t matter how it plays because the people who love the series are playing to find easter eggs and plot secrets. Sure, the mechanics need to be sound but they’ve ceased to be the main attraction. Nevertheless, I have deciphered the game’s inner workings and present my judgement below.

I have won the game forever

Wot I Think: Five Nights At Freddy’s 3

FNAF 3 (calling it FNAF makes me feel like I’ve defeated it in some way) changes the watching and waiting formula by ramping up the apparitions and making power management more complicated. You’ll need to charge audio abilities (to distract murderous machines), ventilation (to stave off hallucinations or something) and camera feeds separately. Recharging takes time and that’s time in which a furious bear might be chewing on our face.

I’d tell you if the changes are sufficient to justify a purchase but I shat it on the second night and uninstalled.

*We can pronounce square brackets and we do say “official site” whenever we mention a game in conversation. Just imagine!

20 Comments

  1. James says:

    It seams this has something more to it that Let’s Play bait. Interesting to see. My cynical nature has clouded my judgment here.

    • pasports31 says:

      I’ve only played the first one, but imho it was only marginally more than let’s play bait. The scares wear off pretty quickly as they are all “oh no i screwed up so there’s going to be a jump scare,” which after suffering through it 20 times or so doesn’t really make you jump anymore. The first few levels I’ll admit I was pretty invested, but once the game ramps up in difficulty it falls apart, I think. The game just becomes frustrating with all the moving parts going on, which really takes away from the atmosphere and how claustrophobic and initially scary it could be. I will say that the fiction involved and the story are actually quite developed for such a simplistic, small game, and that I think this is the more interesting part than the actual game itself. If you can grab one of the games in a bundle, go for it, but I wouldn’t recommend buying it on it’s own.

  2. James says:

    *tumbleweed*

    I think interest in FNAF has dropped off.

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      I don’t think they ever particularly took off round these parts. I find them oddly fascinating though!

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        My 11 year old daughter is obsessed with the game. This obsession began before she ever played it. Something her friends talk about. I got it to show her it isn’t much of a game and she’s finally losing interest.

      • thedosbox says:

        That’s becoz we’re all scaredy cats.

  3. Premium User Badge

    teije says:

    My son watched a couple LPs on it and thought it was a cool concept, from a game design perspective. Didn’t want to actually play it though.

    I personally can’t even watch a sad movie, let alone a scary one. So this one is out.

  4. aliasi says:

    I will say 3 seems to be the most legitimate game of the trilogy. The mechanics are upfront and there’s less random screwage.

  5. Monggerel says:

    This reminds me of the time when I was 14 and watched the hilarious people of Youtube scream in terror at jumpscares.

    So like 5 months ago

  6. Synesthesia says:

    fuck screamers, man. I got hit by one a few nights ago, took me a few days to readjust. I am not the valiant kid that soloed through several silent hills anymore. Sigh.

    • Kitsunin says:

      When I was like, twelve, I accidentally hit myself with a screamer by clicking on “most viewed” Albinoblacksheep videos on a night when my parents wouldn’t get back ’till after midnight. Gave me nightmares about screamer-based computer viruses for a long fucking time.

  7. death_au says:

    You’ve given me the idea for a game that simply involves mashing buttons to crank a lever on a creepy-as-hell jack-in-the-box to prevent the jack from popping up. Dank lighting, creepy music building slowly and an optical illusion that makes it seem as if the view keeps getting closer to the box without actually getting any closer.

  8. brulleks says:

    I share your fear of the Gummidge, Adam. And of course, Youtube manages to make it a lot worse than it seemed at the time:

  9. Jackablade says:

    You think you’ve got problems, Adam? I work at a studio that makes animatronics. I don’t recommend dealing with these games if you do that. It makes the half built puppets with their dangling eyeballs and peeled back skin that little bit more creepy.
    link to creaturetechnology.com

  10. frightlever says:

    I’ve watched a few videos of BrettUltimus play this and after about 40 minutes of cumulative video I legit do not have a clue what is going on. His current Dark Souls run makes altogether more sense.

  11. Archangel says:

    3 already? Seriously? Didn’t 2 come out just last month? And the first only a few months before that?

    Well, I’m from the future*, and I’m playing FNAF 9!

    * Thursday after next

  12. Initialised says:

    I have a 10 and a 12 year old and they love it. They think the original restaurant was a real place and everything. God I wish I was still a tween.