I’m not going to talk about FNAF World and nothing you can do will make me.
Sister Location is where Five Nights at Freddy’s got oddly experimental. No, not ‘the game is a cute RPG’ experimental. Rather, it took the established lore, gameplay format, and even setting and put a twist on it, focusing more on science fiction and characters than the vague murder mystery of old. The result is a game that a lot of people say they really love.
Unfortunately, I am not one of those people.
You play as Mike, or Eggs Benedict, a new maintenance guy for Circus Baby’s Pizza World. Your job is to go in there and fix up the rental robots. However, things are not at all how they seem. Something about your new job doesn’t seem right, and one of the animatronics, Circus Baby, is whispering at you from night to night. Just what kind of nightmare is brewing within this dark facility?
Following the story of this game without understanding the lore is an actual nightmare. Things just sort of happen in this game and it isn’t really explained. At least not within the game itself.
Now, is the story enjoyable if you are familiar with the lore? For me, that answer is no. This game is where the lore really starts to fly off the rails. The moment I started having to keep track of actual named human characters is where I checked out. I don’t care about the Afton family or Henry or whatever their names are. I care about the creepy child ghost story! It being so vague and open to interpretation is what made it so compelling to begin with!
Not to say that the story is completely inept. While it can be difficult to understand, it still leads to some pretty tense and horrifying moments in the gameplay. The animatronics have actual voices now (we’ll touch on that in a bit) and they are genuinely unsettling. Plus, the little comedic moments you get between nights are pretty funny.
Presentation wise, this game is a mixed bag. On one hand, it is absolutely dripping with a dreadful atmosphere. Seeing the faint outlines of the robots moving in the absolute darkness around you is enough to fill your blood with ice, and the game’s use of sound design is as chilling as ever. On the other, the sci-fi robot-looking animatronics have lost the uncanny valley effect that made them so creepy in the first place. It gives this game a unique aesthetic when compared to the rest of the series, but it didn’t really do much for me.
The gameplay is where things get really weird. Each night presents you with a different gameplay challenge. One night, you’re clicking and dragging something to protect yourself. The next, you’re sneaking through a dark room and interacting with a terminal to reset the tech. Each night is a new challenge. On their own, they aren’t especially memorable. But it does make this game stand out compared to the prior entries.
Make no mistake, though. The gameplay loop of old can still be found in this game in the Custom Night update. Once again, you are playing a terrifying game of hide-and-seek with the robots until 6 A.M. You can either customize this to your liking or tackle a series of pre-made challenges. Clear those and you’ll get some classic Atari-style cutscenes detailing the lore, ultimately culminating in a teaser for the next game.
This was the most fun and memorable part of the game for me. The ‘story’ mode felt like a collage of ideas meant to present a convoluted story. Going back to the classic formula with brand-new killer robots was a nice refresher. It brings back all the creepy atmosphere and resource management-induced tension that made the first four games so special.
Ultimately, I’m not much a fan of Sister Location. This is where the games start to go a bit too hard into the ultra-convoluted lore for my tastes. Though I can appreciate how experimental this one became with the series identity and formula. It’s not an awful game, but it isn’t one I’m eager to revisit.
Unlike the next one, which is one of my personal favorites.