I’ll admit it, I am not really an expert on the Five Nights at Freddy’s phenomenon. Sure, I gave it a go long ago, but I never found the hook that younger gamers seemed to grab onto to make it into one of the biggest names in gaming of the past decade. While the franchise has now cooled off a bit, we have seen a slight resurgence since seeing the ports hit consoles. Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted is a port of what was originally delivered to PlayStation VR and other similar platforms, and looks to bring its own, unique first-person fare to Nintendo. Does it have legs to stand on, or is this entire package miss the mark? Let’s find out.
Well, there really isn’t a lot of story here outside of the original lore that is too exciting, as Help Wanted basically takes FNaF 1, 2, 3, 4, and spinoff titles, spins them into mini-games, and delivers the usually scares and bears that fans would expect. The meat is indeed here, and those looking for fanfare will more than likely get their lot out of the content within. That said, there is a feeling amiss to those of us “casuals”, as the blanks are not easily filled, and the expectation of the player to just jump in without much background means that you are assumed to know your history beforehand – which should be a word of caution for new, or even light players looking to just jump in.
As I mentioned, this is more of a mini-game compilation based on the franchise, rather than a compilation. While the group of mini-games that range through the whole series are quite varied and exciting on paper, the glaring issue with Help Wanted is how they expect us to consume the content on the Switch. On VR systems, being able to move your head and interact with objects worked. It was a clever mechanic that certainly delivered something new to players searching for a specific experience.
The Switch version plays the same, but without the proper headset or motion controls, fails as a concept in this port. Grabbing objects and interacting with the small buttons feels awkward and broken. When I played the first title in this collection, I was taken back with how cumbersome the control scheme felt. It is a headache trying to make a small reticle target a button with precision, and even adjusting the sensitivity of the Joycon control in the options did little to make the experience feel fluid. Tasks as simple as picking up a phone or a cupcake take longer than they should and overshadow the intentions of the development team.
Let me tell you that I wanted this to improve through other offerings within the package, as I tried nearly everything offered up front, but everything was simply too frustrating and clunky to actually enjoy the “fantastic” Fazbear experience that seemed to be promised. It’s as if someone simply wanted to do a quick cash grab without thought or proper testing, pasted this port, and didn’t look back long enough to ask themselves “does this work”? Disappointment is an understatement for what this Switch port has to offer.
The graphics in Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted are indeed polished and smooth. Characters look fantastic and even though the game is indeed a slop to play, you can at least feel what they were going for with the visual design. If properly ported, this might even be one of the finer ports on the Switch. That said, without much else other than decent animation and crisp character models, the eye candy is just not enough to deliver satisfaction.
The sound effects, voice acting, and music are also well done. Even though I found the game a chore to play, the sound gave me a good jump scare or two as there certainly is that classic ambiance and atmosphere that captures the product. Never did I notice much stuttering or audio latency, and overall, those screams and familiar howls will at least provide the familiarity to players to keep them in “tune” with their purchase, if that is all they are really searching for.
Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted is a bad port. There isn’t really any other way to state it. While this concept sounds great and even works fine in the world of virtual reality, no thought or proper usage of the Switch makes Help Wanted feel broken and shallow. Fans of the franchise will probably want the next best game to add to their switch, but be warned – this mini-game compilation is more of an example of flawed execution than it is intuitive, and those who have poured years or even minutes into such a namesake simply deserve more. I am sure that the other versions available on the platform are great but wait for a patch or give this one a pass for now.
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