Emily Wants to Play Too is the sequel to the viral sensation ‘Emily Wants to Play’ which was released a few years ago. The sequel plays out in a similar fashion to the original but with some new mechanics and surprises thrown into the mix in order to change things around a little. I’m not the biggest fan of jump scares, The Inpatient almost gave me a heart attack and I had to stop playing Dead Secret in VR because it was freaking me out, but I got a mate around and we played through this game as much as we could. Okay, he played it and I watched, but that’s fine – I was still jumping more than him throughout the game!
Emily Wants to Play Too begins nice and simple, you are a sandwich delivery guy who has returned home to his mansion of a home. Seriously, compared to houses here in the UK, this guys house is massive. Your first task is to find your bedroom – a simple enough task which is made a little more difficult due to the dark hallways, items all over the floor, lights which don’t seem to fully illuminate the rooms, and the fact I’m in control and have no idea where his bedroom is! Upon crashing for the night, you awake at 3 am in order to get ready for work – you take a shower, as you ignore the jack-in-a-box that’s playing away as you wash, and then proceed to the front door. As you make your way there, you will encounter old favourites from the original game who, at first, are lifeless and just sat there on the floor and chairs.
As you get to the front door, you realise you don’t have your keys and must go in search of them. At this point, the demonic dolls have now come to life and are actively turning off lights and stalking you as you look around for your keys. I won’t tell you how many times this took to pass, but it was about 5 times too many if I’m being honest. It all seemed very random and hard to predict what was going to happen, sometimes I would turn a corner and get grabbed by something, other times I would be jumped for turning on the lights. If you even get grabbed by something, you are sent back to 3 am where you must have a shower and look for your keys once more. It got a bit frustrating, but we carried on, and it’s a good job we did…
Upon finding your keys and proceeding through the front door, you find out that this whole section was actually a dream and none of it actually happened! Thanks, developers! You get dressed and head to work (for real this time) as you make a delivery at the “Central Evidence” facility. Upon entering the building, you are locked inside and you take it upon yourself to begin exploring for a way out. Now, this is the main part of the game as you are being stalked by familiar and new foes, all of which have their own process you must follow in order to avoid and escape from their clutches. Whereas in the first game you were collecting notes, in this game you are tasked with finding keycards so you can access new areas and escape. It’s a very jumpy and frightening game, but not without its flaws I’m afraid.
My first major issue with the game is its controls. It’s your standard controls, as you would expect, with the control sticks to move and look and the face buttons to perform various actions, but it feels ‘off’. In order to turn on a light switch, for example, you must have it right in the centre of the screen as you press the action button. If it’s a little to either side then chances are it won’t come on. You also select options in the menus by ‘looking’ at them – a similar approach to how Dead Secret works, only that game is in VR so it made more sense. This isn’t a dealbreaker though as it’s playable, it just takes a little while to get used too.
I really didn’t like the initial ‘dream’ sequence either as there weren’t any hints (from what I could see) regarding how to combat the dolls, so it seemed like it would be best to play if you had played through the previous game and knew all of the mechanics beforehand. I usually applaud games which don’t hold your hand and get you to think for yourself as you learn the mechanics, but this felt more like you were just pushed into the deep end without any support. Once you overcome this hurdle though, the game actually gets pretty good. To me, this is like the Driv3r of today, in that game the tutorial was almost impossible and gave very little hints, yet once you passed it you finally gained access to the real game.
Where Emily Wants to Play Too shines is in its characters and the overall atmosphere of the game. Character-wise, each doll has their own behaviours which you must learn and adapt to if you wish to stay alive. For example, one doll requires you to shine your light on them in order to get them to go away, another reacts to any noise you make, and the clown plays red light, green light with you. At this stage, you will find hints around the facility on how to deal with each of the beings which are after you as well as notes and audio tapes which gives you the background and more information on each one.
Just like in the first section, if you are caught by any of these beings as you are looking for the way out/keycards, you will be treated to a jump scare and sent back to the last checkpoint you arrived at – which for me, seemed like they were more generous than the first section. The jump scares can get a little frustrating as you go along, but they also become more predictable and less frightening – so if you’re like me and end up dying a lot of times, it will eventually become easier – trust me!
There is an option in the settings menu before you start a game, which I thought was strange. It was an option to disable the jump scares! I enabled this out of curiosity and I wasn’t disappointed. Basically, instead of seeing a doll get in your face as they catch you, you see a black screen for about five seconds before the checkpoint reloads. So, for those of you out there who like the look of the game but don’t like jumpscares, you can turn them off. It isn’t as frightening or dramatic if you do, but it does save you from screaming every 10 minutes.
After a certain point in the game, the gameplay shifts from running away and avoiding the dolls to actually playing games with them! You will be tasked to play hide and seek, musical chairs, Chesters marathon, and freezie tag, among others. This changes the way the game is played, as no longer are you having to protect yourself and hide, but you are forced to play with them in order to keep them entertained. I found this shift really enjoyable and a much-needed addition to the game as I could see myself easily getting bored or frustrated if I was just walking around and hoping I’m not jumped from behind by an evil clown!
The big difference between this section and the previous one (and the previous game for that matter) is the size of the facility you are in. The level design is really well done and allows the dolls to move freely all over the place, which really builds up the suspense more as you don’t know where anyone is. Speaking of suspense and atmosphere – the developers know to mess with you. From the lighting effects to the subtle sounds of dolls following you and laughing all around, it really creeps you out and keeps you on edge.
There is nothing more nerve-racking than wandering around an empty building in the dark hearing a doll crying “ma-ma” as it moves and then suddenly hearing a jack-in-the-box playing music in the background. A jack-in-the-box which will spawn a 7-foot tall jester who will chase you down and kill you, if you don’t turn it off promptly. Also, don’t forget Emily, who is annoyed and jealous that you haven’t invited her to play, hence the name of the game…
Also, upon completing the main story, you unlock a speedrun mode. This basically records your time as you play so that you can aim to complete the game as fast as possible.
In regards to the presentation of the game, visually the game looks pretty good. The textures are of high quality and the lighting effects really help create the aforementioned suspense and atmosphere. Even though you are playing within a large facility, the level design is created so that you are also placed in small claustrophobic situations as well such as tight hallways and small offices. The dolls themselves are also well presented, with their own look and style in order to make them seem creepy and unique. The great designs are then pushed even further with the awesome sound design within the game. You know the sound design is good when the game is no longer creepy if you mute the tv – Which I tried and it was still creepy but nowhere near as bad as playing it with the sound on.
Emily Wants to Play Too is very similar to the first game in terms of its core mechanics. You will spend a lot of your time wandering around dark environments and learning how to deal with the various enemies whilst looking for a way out. This sequel does mix things up a little with a switch in its gameplay mechanics halfway through which helps keep the gameplay fresh and entertaining. I personally had issues with the lack of direction, instruction and guidance in the first section of the game, but if you persevere and make it to the facility, then the game gets much better. Fans of the original game will love this, and so will people who enjoy jump scare games such as FnaF and SCP.
Emily Wants to Play Too
- The mid-game change of gameplay keeps it interesting
- Sound design is spot on
- Nice looking textures and environments
- Plenty of jumpscares
- New doll behaviours which differs it from the original game
- Fiddly controls and interaction methods
- The initial 'house' level isn't very helpful as a tutorial
- Can become frustrating if you're unsure of how to stop someone
- Loses it's appeal for replayability once you master all the mechanics and finish the game