Man, the hype behind this game was huge! The first game took the world by surprise. Now, people were waiting with bated breath for the sequel.
And boy howdy, they were not disappointed. Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 expanded on everything that the first game did. More robots, more lore, more difficulty, more everything! To this day, it’s still one of the biggest games in the series.
But bigger isn’t always better. At least, it isn’t for me.
The basic premise is exactly what it was in the first game. You play as a security guard working at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza for the night shift. For some odd reason, the animatronics will murder you if they catch you, so you’ve got to manage your resources in order to survive until 6 A.M. Rinse and repeat until the end of the week and you get your minimum wage paycheck.
At least, that’s what you get on the surface level. Because sprinkled throughout the game are several odd, Atari-style minigames that flesh out the gruesome history of the Freddy Fazbear franchise. Gameplay wise, none of these are especially complicated. But it’s amazing how much discomfort and dread these minigames can convey.
For the lore enthusiasts, this is the game where things started to get interesting. As well as complicated. Though it isn’t as impossible to keep track of as it gets later on in the series.
Visually speaking, this game is still dripping with a discomforting atmosphere. The lifeless gaze of the robots is more chilling than ice and the dark hallways are hauntingly silent. Your office isn’t as claustrophobic as in the first game, but its openness and lack of defenses make it even more nerve-racking to inhabit than its predecessor. Flipping through the cameras to find all the various robots staring at the cameras through the darkness is enough to send a shudder down one’s spine.
Unfortunately, I feel that the animatronics in this game are a step down from the first. The Puppet is plenty creepy, but the others are kinda… bleh. The Toys feel like just that, and the dismantled ones have lost that uncanny valley effect that made them so haunting before. It isn’t bad, they’re still plenty creepy. But that sense of discomfort is lacking this time around.
One thing that is incredibly well done is the music. Whenever it kicks in, it sends your heart rate straight through the roof. The simple tune that plays when an animatronic draws close is enough to activate panic mode all on its own. And when the puppet’s music box starts, signaling your inevitable demise, you can feel your whole body clenching.
Sadly, all the dread and atmosphere is made null when you inevitably get caught. Because once again, the pay-off to all that fear and tension is just a jump-scare. A fact that I will never stop complaining about, even if said jump-scares have become ingrained into the series’ identity.
That seems like a good place to start talking about the gameplay. Once again, this game is a resource management simulator. Only this time, the only limited resource is your flashlight’s battery life and the timer on the Puppet’s music box that you need to reset. Aside from those, you have free reign to check the cameras as freely as you’d like.
Not that there’s much point to it. There are so many animatronics in this game that keeping track of all of them is basically impossible. In the end, you’ll need to settle on the few that you actually need to watch, such as the Puppet, and simply keep the others at bay with the flashlight and the Freddy Mask.
Oh, didn’t I mention? There are no doors. That oh so comforting safety measure you had in the first game is dead and buried and the animatronics can just waltz into the office whenever they please. Some of them can be frightened off with the flashlight. Others, you need to trick by putting on the Freddy Mask and hiding until they leave.
Why the night guard doesn’t just wear the mask throughout his whole shift, I’ll never know.
Despite your best efforts, you’ll probably die anyway. Luck is a major player in this game, and sometimes you’ll be forced to perform multiple tasks with extremely quick and precise timing. While skill can take you far, whether you succeed or not is ultimately up to chance. Pray to RN-Jesus and do what you can and you should be able to beat this game. With patience.
Personally, I found that all the creepy atmosphere quickly stopped having any effect. The game stopped being scary and simply became stressful only a night or two into my playthrough. It felt more like I was juggling too many balls at once rather than surviving a creepy nightmare situation. It wasn’t creepy or even fun, it was just strenuous and frustrating!
Still, some people are down for that kind of thing. I’m not, but you might be. If you’re either patient, crazy, masochistic, or some combination of all three.
Despite my gripes, I don’t think Five Night’s at Freddy’s 2 is a bad game. While the atmosphere of the game is quickly overwhelmed by the stressful gameplay, it is still plenty powerful. Not to mention its interesting approach to storytelling that encourages speculation and theorizing. It still lived up to the hype of the fanbase.
Although the hype behind this game paled in comparison to the next one.