Though it was originally expected to come out in 2015, Five Nights At Freddy's 2 lead developer Scott Cawthon decided to release the full game several months early, with no warning to fans. The first game was a cult hit, and the sequel was only announced less than a month ago. Evidently, fans were concerned with the fast turnaround time for the sequel's production, which passed Steam's greenlight system a week after announcement and was fully released barely a week after that.
Containing a grand total of seven nights, the misleadingly titled Five Nights At Freddy's 2 delivers a scarier experience than its predecessor and helps develop some interesting backstory - though it does come with some drawbacks.
It's clear that solo developer Scott Cawthon made a large effort to switch up the gameplay from the original game. There's now a musical box in the prize room which players must keep wound up remotely via the camera system. Failing to do this will lead to the escape of the 'Puppet', which makes a mad dash at the player for an unstoppable game over. This means that while the player is actively checking down the hall and vents with the flashlight (which has a limited amount of juice, much like the door locks of the first game), they must also keep opening up the camera screen to wind up the box. That distracting means players may not realize threats are walking directly up to them. For those thinking that doors can buy them some time, think again - there are no doors in Five Nights At Freddy's 2, allowing for the free-range animatronics to constantly barge into your room.
There are both old and new animatronics to deal with, and they behave very differently - the old Foxy can only be kept at bay by flashing the flashlight, while others must be fooled by wearing an empty Fazbear headpiece when they're nearby. When wearing the head, players are not able to wind up the music box or flash the light at the old Foxy, leaving them in a horrifying predicament where switching between mask, flashlight and camera system too slowly will leave them vulnerable to jump-scare attacks by the animatronics.
Since the game cycles between both old and new animatronics patrolling the building, as well as the Puppet constantly needing attention via the music box, there is seemingly little to no point in actually using the camera to check around the building and this is a source of disappointment. One of the main joys of the first game was cycling through the cameras and seeing where the animatronics have moved. The camera views contain what may be some of the most frightening images, so it's a shame that most players won't ever see them as they progress through the game.
Five Nights At Freddy's 2 has a surprisingly mysterious plot which directly ties into the first game. The sequel is actually a prequel to the original Five Nights At Freddy's, and takes place in 1987. It turns out that Freddy Fazbear's Pizza is barely past its grand opening, and the business is now run by new franchise owners. The original Freddy Fazbear's closed down after a mysterious incident, and it's implied that the animatronics have been left alone to rot for some time. As the week progresses, players will hear a creepy story play out over the phone, which has kept many forums abuzz with theories as to what each nightly phone call really means. We won't spoil it for you here, but the storyline does shine some light on certain things mentioned in the original game.
Players who had difficulty progressing through the aforementioned first game should ready themselves for a much faster paced and even more difficult experience the second time around. As the game progresses, it's not uncommon for non-expert players to keep dying over and over - and the repeat exposure to fast-paced jump scares can make the game feel more stale and tedious rather than suspenseful and horrifying. Despite this, players taking the plunge will find themselves in a game which successfully pulls off the feeling of being creeped out quite well, provided the outdated graphics aren't a major turn off.
Five Nights At Freddy's 2 manages to take the horrifying jump-scare experience of the first game and bring it to new heights. While the game gets some fresh features that completely change the pace of the gameplay, the lack of emphasis on the camera system and the sheer number of simultaneous animatronic threats may not be everyone's cup of tea. The suspenseful atmosphere has been changed to a more action-packed alternative, but the game is still a frightful experience for those who can get over the old-school graphics. It's not a game for the faint of heart, but fans of horror games should certainly spend a week working the Freddy Fazbear's night shift - especially when it comes at such a low price point.
Five Night's At Freddy's 2 is currently available for $8.99 PC via Steam and Desura, as well as $3 on the Google Play store.
Follow John Jacques on Twitter @Makelevi.