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Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted 2 Review (PlayStation 5)

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Five Nights at Freddy's: Help Wanted 2 Promotional Art

I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy the OG Help Wanted that launched back in 2019, because I did. In fact, frequent spells of motion sickness aside, I was able to sift through just enough of the janky animatronics and mini-games to knuckle in on dawn and even bag the t-shirt. But that was half a decade ago, and to say that Steel Wool Studios has come a fair ways since then would be an understatement, truly. Aside from the VR-centric spin-off series, the studio itself has also delivered some of the best material for Five Nights at Freddy’s to date—Security Breach and its beloved Ruin DLC, being the two standout properties of the bunch. With all of that said, there is a new layer to this ongoing portfolio, and it has just hatched in a “Flat Mode” for PlayStation 5. Scoot over, Freddy — Help Wanted 2 has arrived.

Okay, well, technically, Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted 2 isn’t a new game — at least, not for fellow PSVR fans, anyway. However, Steel Wool Studios has just released the game in a sort of VR-less format, meaning, if you did happen to miss out on the opportunity to explore its wealth of mini-games back in 2023, then you’ll have your chance to board the vessel and take a big ol’ bite out of that signature pizza over the coming weeks. No VR headset? No problem. After all, it isn’t as if you need two hands to squash buttons and paint a robot, right? Right.

Anyway, if you’re still unsure about whether or not to throw down the gauntlet with the unruly pizzeria troupe, then be sure to read on as we delve a little deeper into its roots. Take the wheel, Freddy!

Fool Me Once

Whack-a-Mole mini-game (Five Nights at Freddy's: Help Wanted 2)

Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted 2 serves as a sequel to 2019’s Help Wanted—a VR game that introduced us to an array of mini-games and other activities set in the acclaimed, yet slightly sinister domain of Freddy Fazbear and the folks behind the oddly ominous “family-friendly” pizzeria chain. In a similar vein as its prequel, Help Wanted 2 comes with its own network of peculiar trials, timed challenges, and collectibles. What’s different between this and, say, Security Breach, of course, is that you don’t roam the seemingly vacant hallways of an enormous utopia, but rather, shovel through a series of goals that stretch from painting an animatronic against the clock, sourcing ingredients to satisfy ravenous bots, or even providing medical attention for faulty-wired patients. And that’s barely scratching the surface; it also features a treasure trove of arcade games, themed flume rides, and gunslinging shoot 'em-up activities.

To say that there’s a great deal to sift through in Help Wanted 2 wouldn’t be entirely accurate, though, it mostly depends on several factors—how quickly you’re able to decode patterns and solve problems, for example. Suffice it to say, you could quite easily romp through a significant portion of these trials in seven hours or less — but that’s only if you’re relatively adaptable when it comes to learning new techniques and behavioral patterns. However, as there are several other things to accommodate—exclusive coins, plushies, and a slew of nifty prizes, for example—one could quite easily squeeze those seven hours into a dozen, maybe even a few more. Point is, if you’re a bit of a die-hard fan of Scott Cawthon’s work, then the sky might as well be the limit in this case.

A Little Extra Breathing Room

Moondrop hiding in a corner (Five Nights at Freddy's: Help Wanted 2)

Help Wanted 2 was, of course, a virtual reality game at its core, and so, the question that yearns to be answered is this: is the Flat Version a standalone venture, or a mere half-baked emulation of its counterpart? Eh, it’s a bit of both, really, though I wouldn’t quite as far as to say that it’s half-baked; on the contrary, I’d say that it is, in spite of its copy-and-pasted materials, its “own” thing, and thus, a worthy reincarnation that deserves to be explored, if not for a first time, then for a second, perhaps even third, provided that you have an interest for the franchise and its bottomless lore.

To make it absolutely clear, the gameplay in Help Wanted 2 isn’t overly complex; in fact, it follows in an almost identical trail as Help Wanted, or just about any Five Nights at Freddy’s game, for that matter. To put it simply, if you’re not slapping switches in a last-ditch effort to prevent some grizzly fate from claiming you, then you’re memorizing combinations, colors, or simply attaching component A to socket B, and so on and so forth. Don’t get me wrong, there is a little more to it than that, but for the most part, you’ll find that lion‘s share of the experience is all rather straightforward and to the letter. And that’s fine, to be fair; the less complicated the task, the more likely we are to reattempt it for a chance of obtaining a better score or reward, of which there are plenty to accrue, thankfully.

Roll on the Sixth

Roxy Wolf making heart gesture (Five Nights at Freddy's: Help Wanted 2)

There is one thing that I can’t help but praise here, and that’s the replay value; it isn’t just a simple washout of a game that presents you with a set list of chores and brushes you out once they’ve been completed, but a portal that houses a roster of genuinely enjoyable mini-games and ad-lib scares, all of which feel unique with each passing turn. In some cases, primarily in the original Help Wanted, I was often content with the idea of parting ways with the journey shortly after the credits began to roll, whereas in the sequel, that wasn’t always the case. Perhaps it was the fact that the mini-games were a little more hands-on, or that the fluidity felt more natural, or something along those lines, anyway. Whatever “it” was that coerced me into sticking around, it worked — and then some.

There’s a great deal to love about this itty-bitty collection of side stories, and therefore, I’m willing to give it as many points as it deserves. Again, it isn’t quite the sequel to Security Breach that we’re still hanging on the edge of our seats for, but for a subsidiary of the core series, it certainly serves its purpose as a gap filler that has all of the same cult elements of a signature Five Nights at Freddy’s game. Sure enough, it hosts an enormous range of iconic characters, locations, treasures, and memorabilia—four hallmark attractions that are inexplicably invaluable for any major installment in the beloved saga. Are all of these things better in Help Wanted 2? That’s a matter of opinion, for sure. However, in my mind, I honestly believe that it’s a headstrong sequel, and one that’s perfectly capable of bearing the torch.

Verdict

DJ Bot overlooking stage and mixer (Five Nights at Freddy's: Help Wanted 2)

It seems all rather fitting, that Help Wanted 2 would come knocking in our greatest hour of need. With the Ruin DLC for Security Breach having already left us on tenterhooks a fair few months back, I think I speak for everyone when I say this: filler, no matter the size or complexity, is an ideal consolation prize for the significant lack of conclusive material that continues to allude the series’ overarching narrative. It isn’t quite Ruin 2, much less a sequel to Security Breach (we’re still holding you to that, Steel Wool Studios), but it is, if anything, a worthy substitute that bears all of the trappings of a well-made warmup gig. Sure enough, you could argue that Help Wanted 2 is something of a souped-up version of its predecessor, but in reality, it’s a lot more than that; it’s an entirely separate leg that orbits the same journey.

Thankfully, Help Wanted 2 isn’t just a mediocre rehash of its original incarnation, and it doesn’t take long to realize that, aside from it sporting a lot of the same characters and settings, it is, in fact, a brand-new journey, and one that comes gut-loaded with a fresh collection of creative mini-games, Easter eggs, and pockets of additional lore. It’s also a lot of fun to uncover these features, too, and it helps that you don’t necessarily have to endure waves of motion sickness in order to scrape the barrel clean of all its contents. As for whether or not the so-called Flat Version is better than the original VR one is debatable, though when all’s said and done, it essentially boils down to a matter of personal taste, in ways. Either way, if you adore the franchise that much, it shouldn’t matter which of the two you choose.

Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted 2 Review (PlayStation 5)

A Tastier Slice

Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted 2 reignites the candle for a series that, while not entirely fresh-out-of-the-box, delivers all of the respective award-winning qualities and characters that make the franchise what it is. It’s a leap in the right direction for Steel Wool Studios, and whilst it isn’t quite the sequel to Security Breach that we wanted, it’s still a serviceable substitute that has the potential to scratch that itch.

Jord is acting Team Leader at gaming.net. If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.