What makes a good horror experience? Is it all out gore or maybe playing with the mind, teasing what could be in the shadows, letting your imagination do the work? When you want something a little less cerebrally challenging then there’s always the good old fashioned jump scare, which Steel Wool Studios employs to great effect in Five Nights at Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted.
The Five Nights at Freddy’s series is a fairly iconic horror franchise on PC, with the first originally released back in 2014. The premise was simple but addictive gameplay with plenty of tense atmosphere and some rather bone-chilling creatures. All that returns in one mega virtual reality (VR) bundle, there’s just one big difference, the intensity is turned up even further.
VR has the ability to make even mild horror seem even worse than normal thanks to its ability to immerse you in a chilling environment. Five Nights at Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted employs this to great effect in all the mini-games, no matter how long they last. There’s a decent selection of mini-games available, lasting anywhere from a couple of minutes up to maybe ten. But in the darkness, these can seemingly last for ages.
As mentioned Five Nights at Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted is rife with jump scares, caused by deadly animatronics that look like massive cuddly bunnies and teddy bears. However, they are neither cute nor cuddly, sometimes staring out of the darkness with their cold lifeless eyes ready to pounce.
Gameplay is a basic selection of pushing buttons or pulling a lever at certain times. The nuance in the gameplay is keeping an eye out for everything else. The original Five Nights at Freddy’s for example tasks you with surviving until 6 am as a security guard, being able to flick through security monitors to check the building. Either side of you is two doors and a pair of light switches. These use power of which there is only a limited amount. So a perfect balance must be found between these factors to stay alive and make it through the night, ramping up the tension unlike few VR horror videogames currently available.
Another awesome example (and one of VRFocus’ favourites) was the ventilation system. Presented with three vents, front/left/right, you need to fix the AC…in the dark. Luckily, you have a head torch for a little illumination. This also helps you spot what’s crawling around the ventilation ducts – some super creepy robot – which just echoes classic movies like Alien.
There’s no movement whatsoever which just adds to the intensity, as you can’t strafe or run away as a natural reaction. Which means apart from all the scares this should make Five Nights at Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted super comfortable for most players. It does note on Steam that the experience can be played Standing or Seated, although there didn’t seem to be an option in the menu to adjust the height down for those that need/prefer the Seated option.
Five Nights at Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted has great visual impact, and would definitely make for some funny YouTube videos with people trying it for the first time. The only thing with a constant barrage of jump scares (even in VR), is that the initial shock can wane after a while. Very dependent on temperament, but it can be easy to become desensitised to these robots popping out of the darkness as you almost expect it. The tense atmosphere is still there, it’s just the finale can get a little mute if you play too much. Five Nights at Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted is definitely one for series fans or those that enjoy a good scare.
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