Five Nights At Freddy’s: Sister Location is a Survival Horror game for PC (though it is slated to be ported to Android and iOS as well) developed by Scott Cawthon and was released on October 7th, 2016. It’s the fifth main entry in the Five Nights At Freddy’s franchise.
The game was first announced on Scott’s website earlier this year in April. Scott has a penchant for crafting scavenger hunts, especially with lore. The first big announcement, a picture reading “Cancelled. Due to leaks”, was initially mistaken as one noting the cancelling of the game itself. After some graphic manipulation, it turned out to be hiding an in-universe news article on the game’s setting being closed due to (gas) leaks. Scott also has penchant for trolling. A few days prior to the release, Scott posted on the Steam forums that he was deliberating whether to, due to its dark nature, release the game or delay it to make it more kid friendly. Many (including yours truly) believed him, only to find out the next day that that wasn’t the case and the game would be released on schedule.
Circus Baby’s Pizza World is in need of new late night technician and you, Mike, fit the bill. Welcome to five nights of cramps spaces and questioning your career choices as you try not to get murdered by animatronics.
Five Nights at Freddy’s, at its core, is a series of point and click survival horror games. I personally refer to it as “siege horror” since previous entries consisted of the player being stationary in one location, but needing to keep tabs on a host of hostile actors (in this case, animatronics) and prevent them from reaching (and thus killing) them.
Sister Location is both a departure and return to form. Some familiar mechanics from the previous entries make appearances, but the grand majority of the experience is going to feel pretty new. The player is no longer tied to one location, but will instead have to navigate to different hubs within Circus Baby’s Pizza World for whatever that night’s work requires. On that note, every night has different objectives and associated gameplay. One night you may be resetting a breaker board while another night, you’ll be trying to remove the power cores from an animatronic that’s less than happy to part with them. Fortunately, these new challenges are manageable.
Beyond gameplay, story is much more prominent in this entry. In the previous games, the story was mostly comprised of background events tangential to the player character and their plight. Sadly, these may have been a little too vague for the player to make heads or tails of. Or worse, they were literally in the background so the player missed them altogether. This made for a strong, interesting narrative, but made for a somewhat boring story. You played the game for the challenge, but then had to go to the forums to get the story. Sister Location is a much more guided experience in this sense. It’s readily apparent that this is happening in real time. There are important events going on and they are happening to YOU. This isn’t a game about a man working in a pizzeria where stuff happened. This is a game about a man who has to deal with these things as they are happening.
Gameflow – The gameplay in this entry has been broken down into smaller pieces. Each night has roughly two or three phases. You have to survive traversing the facility in addition to any main objectives you’re tasked with and any detours as well. These phases come together to create a rather organic experience.
Checkpoints – Going hand in hand with the multi-phase gameplay are the checkpoints. Though players may wish for a couple more, many would agree that as they stand, the checkpoints help shave the fat off replaying a night – thus making it reasonably less punishing on the player for failing.
Story – For once in a Five Nights At Freddy’s game I feel important. The player character is a much more central figure in the story, which is front and center. I won’t spoil it for you, but the general air of malevolence that fans have come to expect from the series is played to humorous and distressing effect. To that end, the events in this game go to some pretty dark places – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Lack of feedback – Despite good guidance for these new challenges, there’s bad feedback for failure. For example, one night presents you with a rather tense challenge that has two fail conditions and one win condition, but the fail state is exactly the same for both fail conditions. Three guesses as to what the fail state is (and the first two don’t count). I remember having some initial trouble with Funtime Foxy’s portion of the facility merely because I didn’t know the nuance of her movement, my own or even my own equipment. Sadly this would rear its head again in the last part of the last night. What should’ve been the easiest part of the night became an insurmountable wall for me simply because, although I had been through reasonable implementations of what I was instructed to do, none of it was working and I couldn’t hope to get any feedback to course correct.
Sister Location is a welcome addition to the franchise. It’s actually my favorite entry in the series so far. It’s worth noting that if you enjoyed the endurance match aspect of the previous games, you may find Sister Location somewhat off-putting at first. Conversely, if you found that aspect to have run itself then, then you’re more likely to welcome Sister Location with open arms. What it lacks in tedium, it makes up for with variety and focus – in gameplay and story.
I give Sister Location