Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 Review (PC)
Two stand down the hall, watching you, and there's another one in the left vent; you think it's the one with the balloons. You click your flashlight on again to illuminate the passage. Now there's just one. Frantically, you check the monitor for where it could have gone. The party room, kid's cove... they're all empty.
You check the right vent, and a tangle of wires, teeth, and eyes glare back at you. Frantically, you throw on your mask, hoping to fool it into thinking you're one of them long enough to stay alive. You've made it to 5AM... just one more hour and you can escape.
But that's when you hear the music box. You forgot to wind the music box.
There's no escape now.
No, this isn't the nightmare you can't wake up from. This is Five Nights at Freddy's 2.
The first Five Nights at Freddy's was released only a few months ago ago, taking the gaming world by storm with its minimalist and effective approach to horror gaming, and now the sequel's arrived to follow up its frightening predecessor.
Five Nights at Freddy's 2 resembles the original in many ways. As the night guard of the newly refurbished Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, it's your job to keep an eye on the animatronic creatures who roam its halls once the children have left and the sun's gone down. Unfortunately, something seems to be... off about these machines, so if you're going to survive the night to receive that sweet payday, you'll need to keep your wits about you.
Since you're the night guard, you're stuck in the Freddy Fazbear's Pizza security office, with the only tools being your flashlight, monitor, and a Freddy Fazbear mask. You'll use your monitor to check the security feed in every room and keep an eye on the numerous insane animatronics, watching as they cross the map and crawl closer and closer to your room. Should they hone in on your location, you'll either need to deter them with your flashlight, or throw on the Freddy mask until they wander off, both of which are highly situational defenses. Rely too heavily on one, and you will die. Actually, scratch that, no matter what, you're going to die a bit, and that's most of the fun. In addition to worrying about the location of each creature, there's also a music box you have to wind up frequently via the monitor (which leaves you defenseless while doing so). The music box is the only thing keeping the deadly Puppet creatures at bay, so fail to keep it wound and you can expect a quick and horrible end.
Simply put, Five Nights at Freddy's 2 wants to scare the hell out of you, and does so through a combination of clever art direction, mounting tension, and jump scares a-plenty. Each night ratchets up in difficulty as the in-game hours tick by, throwing more and more creatures at you from all directions until you succumb to the onslaught or get lucky enough to last until morning. Since your options are so few, there's a limit to how much your traditional gaming skills will aid you. A quick reaction time, steely nerves, and sharp powers of observation are key to making it to morning.
There are five primary nights to survive, with two additional nights for the stalwart players who manage to defeat the main campaign, and each level brings with it a new set of challenges and terror. There are over ten different animatronic creatures in Five Nights 2, each with their own patterns of behavior, most of which you'll have to figure out yourself or by checking in with the game’s bustling online community.
Much of the brilliance of the first Five Nights at Freddy's lies in its simplicity, and this sequel does a great job of maintaining that approachability while introducing new wrinkles to the gameplay. The mask and limited-use flashlight both make for effective tools in helping players defend themselves without ever making them feel empowered, and the need to balance out your flashlight power with the need to wind up the music box and know where your foes are all work together to create an atmosphere of ever-increasing dread. Each victory feels truly earned, and each defeat feels deserved.
Though the story is about as minimalist as the gameplay, there is a tale to be found in Five Nights at Freddy's 2, though you'll have to piece it together by listening to every phone call or checking each location thoroughly for clues. Spooky cutscenes "reward" you at the end of each level, and occasionally you'll get an odd bit of extra story like the Atari-esque sequence where you follow a ghost around from room to room. It was a sequence we only experienced once after getting a game over, and then never again on any subsequent failures.
It's impressive for an indie game to take the gaming world by storm, and it's just as impressive when its developers (or developer, singular, in this case) quickly knock out an excellent sequel. Five Nights at Freddy's 2 won't be for everyone, as those looking for a lengthy campaign, easy triumphs, or a calming experience won't find it here. Playing the game too much in too little of a time does dull its shocks and scares, but if you want to experience some true-blue terror, whether alone or with a group of easily-startled friends, steady your nerves and see if you can stomach spending another Five Nights at Freddy's.
This review was based on a purchased download of Five Nights at Freddy's 2 for PC.