I’m going to sound old here but give me a chance. I was around when Five Nights at Freddy’s first began. I remember all of the YouTube reaction videos. I remember each sequel coming out extremely soon after the other. I remember the story theories. I even remember playing each game on my phone during breaks and trying to brave the jump scares.
This is all to say that despite how cheesy and overplayed Five Nights at Freddy’s might be, it’s still got some sort of grip on me all these years later. I haven’t been paying any attention for some time, but jumping right back in with Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted on Nintendo Switch was a welcome experience. Help Wanted isn’t perfect, and sometimes straight-up isn’t good, but I actually really enjoyed my time with it enough to look past the fact that this clearly wasn’t meant for the Switch.
That’s not hyperbolic commentary on how the game performs either. Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted literally wasn’t meant for the Switch. The game was originally released on VR platforms last year, before being ported over to other consoles. It acts as a mini-game collection of sorts, bundling the first four Five Nights games made to work in a VR perspective, alongside some brand new mini-games and lots of collectibles to find. It’s all wrapped up in the typical self-aware corporate parody with hints of murder that make the originals so engaging.
Before anything else, we need to discuss the quality of the port here which is especially important considering how this was originally a VR title. Graphically, Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted can actually be pretty impressive at times, with quite a lot of detail put into the locations and characters. This level of detail means that the game runs quite slow most of the time, but it was never bad enough to stop me from playing.
The controls are the biggest difference between this port and the original. Rather than being able to move your body and hands to interact with the environment, you now just use the control sticks to move the camera, and use buttons to interact with items. The VR interactivity is very limited beyond actually working to the objective, as all you can really do is look around, pick up and throw items and it’s fair to say that doesn’t really create much excitement when you aren’t in VR.
Initially, the controls were my biggest issue with Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted. The vibration was far too strong to play in Handheld Mode, and the default camera controls snapped you in place once you let go on the right stick. Thankfully there’s an option for ‘free look’ that lets you aim the camera however you want. I cannot stress this enough, play on free look. Playing with the other camera mode is a really bad experience, both for trying to replicate the freedom of VR and for actually just playing the game.
Beyond that, this is a port of Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted without the VR exactly how you’d expect. The textures are a little worse, it runs a little worse and it feels like you’re supposed to be in a headset at all times. Thankfully, the first-person perspective still works well enough here. The controls initially feel very obtuse, but you eventually get used to them enough that it doesn’t really feel like a massive issue. Whoever made B the main button for selecting needs to be talked to though.
The first four Five Nights games are recreated here with better visuals and an updated perspective. There’s actual depth to your environments now, and you actually get to see the animatronics move around, rather than just appearing out of nowhere. Still images are still used for the camera feed, but overall it’s a lot more immersive than the original games. If you’re a fan of the series, that might just be enough for you regardless of the extra content.
The first and second Five Nights games are still genuinely good. The combination of limited mechanics and genuinely creepy designs and locations make playing these two totally worth it. The third and fourth game (titled Night Terrors) feel much less enjoyable and run a lot worse thanks to their increased detail. All of the main games have five nights, but there are also some increased difficulty challenges that honestly just become a little tiresome to play.
There are also some new minigames just for Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted, such as suit repairs and vent repairs. These are actually pretty fun and make for a good break from the normal gameplay routine. If you look at all of the content available, you’ll see that the game will keep you going for a while, as long as you don’t get sick of the gameplay loop by that point.
The main question for a lot of people will be, is Five Nights at Freddy’s scary? I would say that yes it can be scary, but it isn’t scary overall. Once you’ve been through a few jump-scares the effect wears off and quickly turns into annoyance. The first and second titles give you just enough tension to still be considered scary but Five Nights 3 overloads you with jump-scares and by the fourth title it all seems a bit too much like a parody to be scary for long.
There are a lot of extras to find too, with golden coins and tapes hidden throughout the mini-games. I wasn’t invested enough to seek everything out, but I can see the appeal for long-time Five Nights fans.
Is Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted worth getting with the original versions already on the Nintendo eShop? If you’re looking for a smoother experience with better controls and don’t really care for any of the bonus content, it might be worth just buying whichever games you want separately, but if you’re interested in some of the other stuff the game has then this semi-upgraded quasi-compilation isn’t a bad deal.
VR isn’t something that everybody can afford to have and, with that in mind, this may be the only way that many can experience Five Nights At Freddy’s: Help Wanted. If you can get past the weird controls and optimisation then this is actually a really fun time for fans of the series and those just looking for some cheesy scares.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Steel Wool Studios