It feels almost embarrassing to write a negative Five Nights at Freddy’s article only a few months after a blog praising the series as genius.
However, in a not-so-surprising early release of Scott Cawthon’s next game, FNAF World, Cawthon has tried and failed to create a good RPG, going so far as to completely remove it from Steam on Jan. 25, 2016.
It’s disheartening to see a series that was once hailed as one of the best horror games of all time reduced to mixed and negative reviews from every critic on the web. FNAF World even has loyal fans questioning their commitment to the series.
FNAF World is not like the other games of its series; instead, it strays away from the horror genre to pick up an RPG into its repertoire. Branching out is fine, it’s how Cawthon made FNAF in the first place after all, but it seems he has gotten in over his head.
While I did enjoy some aspects of FNAF World, including the graphics that are passable at least and the “team” based system of combat, FNAF World fails to educate the player on anything that’s going on, thus leaving them confused and frustrated. The game allows characters to play as all their favorite FNAF characters in a Pokemon-esque random encounter battle system. You get no introduction on how to fight and what your attacks do, which means that as soon as a battle starts, you’re left to randomly mash buttons with little to no time to learn what you’re doing.
Keeping the player uninformed was a central part of the FNAF series, but it was done to keep you scared. Since not all the information was presented to you, it gave the player a sense of urgency and real fear. There’s no reason to implement this in an RPG, and is a massive downfall of this game. You’re given a vague idea of what your ultimate goal is, but most of your first stretch of gameplay is spent trying to figure out what your moves do, where you’re going and dying over and over again.
It wouldn’t be quite as bad if the combat was actually turn based, but attacking is based on the player’s speed. Enemies start attacking you right away and don’t pause to let you figure out what you’re doing or, again, learn what you’re doing. What results is frantic attacking with little to no idea of what you’re actually doing. Everything happens too fast with not enough breathing room for the player to feel comfortable.
In addition, lots of the tongue-in-cheek dialogue comes off as more lazy than humorous. The fact that the land you’re in doesn’t have a name is supposed to be played as a joke (they’re “working on it”), but makes it seem like Cawthon couldn’t think of anything and tried to make it funny. One of the descriptions for an unlockable character even says they’re only there “[b]ecause reasons!”
FNAF World comes across as lazy and rushed, and not up to the same caliber we know Cawthon can produce. It’s extremely disappointing to see one of the most innovative game designers miss the mark in so many ways in this game, ignoring the most basic of RPG staples and producing a haphazard and rushed game.
It may be a good thing Cawthon has removed the game from Steam, as this may give him time to work out the kinks and produce a game as great as the community knows he can.