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Five Nights Of Fear: Boogeyman

The Boogeyman (Bogeyman in my lingo) is your typical nightmare creature. An anti Santa Clause, in that it is a threat rather than a promise. Of course, Daddy Christmas can be used as a threat as well: “If you don’t behave, no presents!” That’s a damn sight less intimidating than “tidy your room or a hideous supernatural entity will creep out of your closet and eat you from the toes right up to the scalp” though.

Boogeyman [Steam Page], currently in Early Access, is a game about that entity. It’s a bit like Five Nights at Freddy’s crossed with Among the Sleep.

Four points of entry, limited torch batteries, and plenty of bumps, scratches and creaks in the night. If Boogeyman had launched before Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 took the whole Jump Scare Prevention genre into a domestic setting, it might not look quite so much like a latecomer to the party.

You play a kid, sitting on your bed and waiting for death to come through door or window, out of closet or vent. The crack in the bedroom door that lets the light in is a neat touch – reminds me of the apparent safety that was always out of reach when terror pinned me to the bed. I used to leave cushions and books no the floor, like stepping stones, because apparently my particular bogeyman could only get me if I actually touched the floor with my feet. Skipping across items was OK. I was safe.

There’s no movement in this Boogeyman though. You’re paralysed with fear, presumably, and can only keep the monster at bay by shining your torch in its face as soon as it begins to emerge from one of the entry points.

Differentiation from the FNAF games comes in the form of variable weather, which either muffles sound or provides flashes of light. There’s also “full dynamic lighting” with “adaptive focus”, which means the longer you stare at a light source, the more difficult it becomes to see shapes in the dark corners of the room.

A quick play confirms that Boogeyman is FNAF-esque and I prefer the setting. I’ve been a frightened child, hiding from my own imagination, but I’ve never found myself working as a security guard who is hunted by haunted animatronics. The game fell over quite quickly, however, when the flaslight failed to keep the Boogeyman at bay. That’s essentially the only way I can interact with the game – preventing my own death with a light – and there I was, unable to do so. At least the failure of the mechanic was terrifying, you might be thinking. Wrong. The Boogeyman is creepy as hell when he’s a couple of shadowy hands unfolding uncannily from a shadow, but when he shuffles into view, he looks faintly ridiculous.

Since FNAF took off like a rocket, I’ve been surprised by how few developers have played with the template. Lots of fan games, sure, but few with their own setting and style. Boogeyman should leave Early Access in January and while there are currently no plans to expand it beyond the bedroom setting, it could be a neat little frightener if the basics are hammered into shape.

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