After the release of the 2014 horror hit Five Nights At Freddy’s, game developers have been trying to replicate the same feeling (and success) of the creepy point-and-click games since then, to varying results. However, there is one that deserves more attention, and it only has a few similarities to its more robotic counterpart.
Originally released for PC on Steam in 2016, Case: Animatronics follows policeman John Bishop as he works a night shift at the town’s police station. During one night, he gets a phone call from an anonymous hacker telling him that he must face his past and survive the night being trapped in the building with a mechanical wolf.
The game has come a long way since its release on PC four years ago; while the mechanics and setting is familiar, the game’s length has extended to allow for more gameplay, and it looks fantastic on the Playstation 4. The wide spaces of the station’s never-ending rooms make this a terrifying experience, as the animatronics can hide in the shadows or in places the player can’t see or hasn’t approached yet. The lack of music also gives the game an eerie and tense feel. The player can’t be comforted by a music score and must confront the quietness of the police station and any sounds your metallic hunter makes.
The lack of a musical score also gives way to the game’s ambient sounds; like previously mentioned, the only sounds that can be heard are the ones that John Bishop makes, such as doors opening, footsteps, his voice, and any sounds that the wolf makes. This means that the player must listen closely to make sure the animatronic isn’t near. I strongly advise wearing headphones for the best playing experience.
Now that the word “animatronic” has been mentioned, the elephant in the room must be addressed: is this just another Five Nights At Freddy’s copycat? While the thing hunting John Bishop is an animatronic, and one way to look out for the Wolf is via a tablet controlling the station’s security cameras, the similarities end there. The game uses the “run and hide” mechanics that were made famous by 2013’s horror hit Outlast to brilliant effect, for the most part. These play mechanics may be familiar, but combined, Case: Animatronics is a terrifying and unique experience. Speaking of unique, I discovered that the opening cutscene is different for every new game, which is cool!
The game’s controls are responsive for the most part, making switching between devices and the flashlight easy. This is good, because the player needs to be quick when the night goes downhill! However, the character’s walking speed is a little too slow, even when running. While the animatronics’ run works with this speed, it is problematic when going from one room to another to work out how to get out of the police station. I get that the game needed to be lengthened for consoles, but decreasing the walking speed was not the direction to take. The voice acting is also not great and did run the risk of ruining the frightening immersion at times. However, it only appears when it’s necessary to help the player with a new objective, which isn’t very often.
Overall, Case: Animatronics is a terrifying and unique experience that deserved more attention in its 4-year lifespan. Hopefully, the console launch will allow this to happen.
Case: Animatronics is now available on PS4 and Nintendo Switch.