REVIEW: ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted’ Leaves You Fumbling in the Dark (Xbox One)

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Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted
Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted is a collection of horror mini games developed by Steel Wool Studios and published by Scott Games and Lionsgate. As the newest member of the team at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza it is your job to make sure things are running smoothly. Whether you are working night security, service and maintenance for the animatronic characters, or even maintaining the air ducts, your job is important. There’s only one catch. The animatronics have a habit of operating on their own. And they might attempt to kill you. But don’t worry. That release form you filled upon hire absolves your employer of all liability.

I’ve been aware of the Five Nights at Freddy’s series for quite some time. But, as with so many series these days, I’ve never gotten the chance to actually try it out till now. This mini game collection gives the player a variety of gaming opportunities, though none of them land as well as they might have. Let’s get into the details.

The game’s opening takes you on a quick lesson into the history of the Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza business. Talking about all the “stories” you might have heard about killer animatronics, and worker deaths. It then explains that the game you are about to experience is a VR simulation of those “supposed” events. But not to worry. Nothing in this game can really harm you… Unless it does.

This introduction puts a hard spotlight on the element of the experience in Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted that really lands. It’s setting. Everything from the ridiculous cooperate messaging to the spooky atmosphere of the in game levels is done quite well. Jump scares are thrown at you with a high degree of frequency, keeping the player on their toes. Sadly, however, this is the only aspect of its presentation Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted truly lands.

The game comprises itself in the form of seven different mini games to experience. Each game has several different levels to it, increasing it’s difficulty as it goes. From the original Five Nights at Freddy’s game play of keeping the killer animatronics out of your security booth, to having to repair air ducts, each game presents a different twist on the game. The controls however, are close enough to each other that you never feel like you are having to learn an entirely new game. Just little twists and quirks. However, this control scheme always feels ill suited for the Nintendo Joy-Cons I played on.  The biggest problem the controls in Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted suffer from is controlling the camera.

Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted

In every mini game the play needs to control their view point with the left thumb-stick, while using various face buttons to interact with their environment. The reason this plays so poorly lies in the fact that the screen is always fighting to go back to its default position. So, rather than pushing right for a moment to make the screen go right and then stay there, it immediately returns to its default spot. Anytime the player is required to pick things up, or flick switch’s with the cursor that is locked in the center of the screen it can quickly devolve into frustration. These controls feel clearly designed for a mouse and keyboard. A point and click interface would remove huge amounts of frustration from this experience.

The other area that greatly hinders Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted from providing a fun experience is its lack of clarity. The player is often given little, or in some cases no, instructions for completing their assigned task. I beat a level once, and I still don’t know how. Just as dying without knowing what I could’ve done differently was a common occurrence. It feels like the developer’s plan was to have the bulk of the games play time made up of attempting to decipher what you are supposed to do.

Also, Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted has a couple of games that depend heavily on audio cues. These atmospheric moments can warn the player when enemies are approaching. They are not subtitled when that function is turned on. This could prove to be a hard roadblock for anyone who is hard of hearing.

Another difficulty with the audio lies in prerecorded messages that appear in several of the games. These are often long winded, giving you not only instructions, but also a little bit of character and personality. The first time I heard one I thought it was pretty cool. However, as I discovered most of these messages couldn’t be skipped over, I soon cursed them. Hearing the same, long winded,  message for the 12th time did not have nearly the entertainment factor as the first.

So, Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted succeeds in creating a world that fits the theme it is shooting for, it just unfortunately fails to do much with it. Mired by poor controls, and frustrating mechanics, the only way I can see anyone getting enjoyment out of this would be possibly as a quick party experience with a few friends. Turn out the lights, and settle in for a couple hours of frights, and maybe a couple laughs. However, if your eyes are set on anything deeper, or better put together, I would have to recommend looking elsewhere.

Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted  is available now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted
  • 4.5/10
    Rating - 4.5/10
4.5/10

TL;DR

Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted succeeds in creating a world that fits the theme it is shooting for, it just unfortunately fails to do much with it. Mired by poor controls, and frustrating mechanics, the only way I can see anyone getting enjoyment out of this would be possibly as a quick party experience with a few friends.