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Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, PC


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PS4, PC
Publisher: Steel Wool Games
Developer: Steel Wool Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: T

Despite the fact I’ve never played any of the Five Nights at Freddy’s games, I was interested in checking out Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted. After all, the series was a huge hit on mobile back when they originally came out in the middle of the last decade, and I was curious what all the fuss was about. What better way to learn that, I figured, than to play a collection of the first five titles in the series?

Unfortunately, something clearly got lost in the translation from mobile to Switch, because whatever makes these games appealing to play isn’t all that evident here.

The key word in there is “play.” Because I get why these games are scary: they do a great job of establishing a really tense atmosphere, and then throwing a jump scare at you. I know that jump scares are a cheap way to frighten people, but honestly, I’m not going to begrudge any game that makes use of them. Besides, the fact that these games do such a great job of ratcheting up the tension in the first place counts for something. These games make great use of the darkness, as you sit all by yourself, wondering what’s hiding in the shadows.

The thing is, none of these games are very fun to play. They may have worked when you played them with a VR headset — that, after all, is what they were designed for — but on the Switch, the experience is atrocious. The gist of these games is that you’re looking around, watching for animatronic monsters to show up and occasionally pressing buttons to carry out some action, whether it’s slamming a door or putting on a mask. Unfortunately, the controls here are absurdly sensitive; even making your reaction as slow as possible, it was nearly impossible to look at any specific item, since you’d just go flying around the screen. It’s hard to feel frightened when you’re also feeling incredibly frustrated at finicky controls, which means that the gameplay in Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted is working at cross-purposes with what the game is trying to do.

As I said up top, I never played any of the Five Nights at Freddy’s games, so it’s entirely possible that those games were just as finicky. Somehow, though, I doubt that mobile games that relied on touch controls are as frustrating as these games with their way-too-sensitive thumbsicks. Which, in turn, means that whether you’re a series veteran who wants to relive these games, or if, like me, you’re someone who wants to experience the games for the first time, Help Wanted really isn’t worth it.

Steel Wool Games provided us with a Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: C-