If you still think all Five Nights at Freddy's games are all the same, you might be pleasantly surprised with what you find in Sister Location.
It's worth noting that if you don't want aspects of the game spoiled for you, I very much recommend playing the game for yourself before you read this, because I will spoil parts of the game. If you have no interest in playing, then read on.
There Is Humor, And It's Actually Well Done
One of the most surprising things, for me at least, was Scott threw in some jokes and skits and none of them fall flat. Before each night starts, as you ride an elevator down, you will have a conversation with the AI of the facility and he will ask you a question, for example, what music would you like to listen to during your decent. A keypad pops up for you to type in your answer but the buttons are flashing so much you can't write out an answer. The AI will fill in what it thinks you meant, and every answer is something I never expected.
At the end of each night, you will get a small segment where the main character goes home and relaxes by watching a soap opera about a woman and her vampire lover. There is even a dedicated button to fill your face with popcorn as you watch.
While not plentiful, it was still really weird to be laughing during a Five Night's at Freddy's game. While each other game spends every second focusing on murder and death, it was refreshing to see Scott Cawthon have some fun with his newest game.
It Plays Nothing Like Previous Entries
While I will defend how the series has evolved over time, it is true that most of the games play the same. You are glued to one spot while you defend yourself from an onslaught from killer animatronics, with the most you can do is close some doors and make noise. That isn't the case for Sister Location, as you actually walk through a consistant set of events with the protagonist. The first night has you checking on the three different animatronics, Circus Baby, Ballora, and Funtime Foxy, and giving them a nice, harmless shock when they aren't at their stations. Another night has you sneaking through Funtime Foxy's section to get to a repair station, where you have to manually take out Funtime Freddy's power pack. The next night you find yourself trapped in a Springlock suit, and spend three whole minutes keeping it from closing on you. Sister Location is full of variety which is so welcomed for the series.
Even though Sister Location plays very differently, you can tell Scott took bits and pieces from each previous entry and implemented it in the game somewhere. In the secret ending, you actually act out a night sitting in a chair, watching cameras, and protecting yourself from an animatronic, a la' the first two games. For one of the nights, you need to restore power to the building, but if you mess around too much, Funtime Freddy will kill you. The only way to passify him is to play audio like in FNaF 3. Listening and being aware of your surroundings also plays an incredibly big role, just as it did in the fourth entry. In the end, Sister Location feels new, while familiar at the same time.
The Horror Is Back
While I consider the first two entries in the series to be well done horror games, the third and fourth suffer a bit due to familiarity. Sure, the locations and animatronics change from game to game, but for the most part you were doing the same actions in the same attempt to not get jumpscared. While there are jumpscares in Sister Location, the way the game approaches horror feels new and unique to the series.
What makes a horror game good? The most important principle, to me at least, is putting the player in a situation they don't want to be in, but have to to progress. That is a concept that I think brings the most potential out of a horror game, and Sister Location does it very well. The game constantly puts you in incredibly stressful situations that you know will end horribly for you if you make one tiny mistake. As I mentioned earlier, one of the nights has you creeping through Funtime Foxy's enclosure as you make your way to the repair station. Foxy relies on slight, and the room you are crawling through is unfortunately pitch black. You have to use a flashlight to reach the door, but one seconds at a time or Foxy will kill you. Once you sneak your way into the repair station you are tasked with taking the power module out of Funtime Freddy. You have to press specific buttons on his body to open up his paneling to remove the power source. One wrong move, and he comes to life and kills you. For longtime fans of the series, being stuck in a tiny room with an animatronic that will come to life and kill you the moment you mess up is completely stressful and scary.
The Story Isn't What I Expected
Now, I can't say I have the story figured out, but it doesn't go in the direction I figured it would, especially with the previous games just focusing on hate-filled, soul-ridden, machines that want to tear you to shreds. Sure, the antagonists are still the animatronics, but as you delve more into the game, you start to realize that maybe they aren't violent towards you for reasons you would expect. The normal ending alone really makes you contemplate what could be going on with the animatronics, especially because I'm pretty sure none of them are controlled by the souls of dead children.
The story is also pushed along by the fact that there is a lot of dialogue is spoken to the player/main character. It's the first time actual dialogue has appeared in the series, outside of the "phone guy" conversations, and it's even more significant considering it's Circus Baby who is talking to you most of the time. Getting the point of view of an animatronic is super interesting, even if her motives might not be what they seem.
In The End...
Sister Location is a completely new experience, while at the same time, feels like it belongs in the Five Nights at Freddy's series. Combining aspects and themes from past games while at the same time doing almost everything new really makes Sister Location feel like a nice evolution for a series that really needed it. While many will scoff at seeing another one get released, it's clear that Scott spent a lot of time and energy fixing a lot of the complaints the series had. If you are a fan, or just someone looking for a cheap, but effective horror game, I would recommend Sister Location, you won't regret it.