After an hour of playing Ultimate Custom Night, I was nursing a throbbing headache. I had spent that time clicking through rooms, winding up music boxes, and taking on and off a Freddy Fazbear head, all while I braced myself for the imminent jump scares. Even after the ordeal I put myself through, I wanted to play again.
Ultimate Custom Night is the latest installment in the Five Nights at Freddy’s series, and it’s free, just like the original FNAF. [Correction- 7/2/18 - The original Five Night’s at Freddy’s was not free, it was $4.99.] It includes new cutscenes, voice acting, and unlockable office skins. Just like the previous FNAF games, you have to survive a night in the office while managing your resources and keeping an eye on the animatronics using your monitor. However, in this game, you can choose up to 50 animatronics from the previous FNAF games to spook you. You can also set their difficulty level from 0 to 20. But even though you get to choose what characters you start with and determine their difficulty level, you have no control over what happens once the game begins.
The game requires you to be not only strategic but also adaptive. The customizability of the game allows room for players to make calculated decisions that can make a night more manageable. For example, choosing only characters that are susceptible to audio lures, such as Happy Frog, Pigpatch, and Mr. Hippo, will allow you to use just one particular tool (like the music box) to keep them at bay. However, there is always a chance that Dee Dee will appear and announce that she’s adding a new animatronic into the ring, including two that are not in the roster.
Dee Dee’s wild choice cards make playing Ultimate Custom Night annoying and uncomfortable, but also delightful, since that discomfort is part of FNAF’s charms. When Dee Dee appears, she forces you out of whatever plan you initially believed you could pull off with the characters you selected. The looming possibility of her appearing encouraged me to try out other characters in the roster, in order to be familiar enough with all of them and maximize my ability to respond to unexpected threats. Dee Dee keeps players on their toes.
One reason why I don’t want to stop playing, despite my headache, is the point value system.. The more characters you include and the higher their difficulties are set, the higher the amount of points you will obtain once you survive the night. If you fail to make it to 6 am unscathed, you will receive no points. This system encourages you to push yourself beyond your comfort zone (and your headache) in order to get a new high score and unlock more cutscenes.
Ultimate Custom Night has some new additions for FNAF fans, such as 16 themed challenges, as well as new and returning tools such as the heater, fan, a global music box, and a power generator. The game also introduces a currency, Faz-Coins, which can be exchanged for items available at the prize counter. There’s also 50/20 mode, in which you go against all 50 animatronics set on the highest difficulty level. Clearly, that’s for only the most seasoned FNAF players.
Ultimate Custom Night, like the rest of the Five Nights at Freddy’s games, does a poor job of easing players into the controls of the game. However, the customizability of the game allows new players to choose easier characters and set low difficulty levels so that they can adjust to the game’s mechanics and controls during their first few runs, though they may encounter some surprise appearances from Dee Dee and other animatronics.
I haven’t played Ultimate Custom Night for very long, but so far, I’ve enjoyed getting pushed out of my comfort zone over and over again. As soon as this headache passes, I’ll get back in there and see what Dee Dee has planned for me.