Emily Wants To Play sees a pizza delivery boy stepping into a house that sets up all the good horror cliches. Trapped inside with a disturbed little girl and her three dolls, the player has until midnight to navigate, listen to recordings and read notes before the dolls become active.
Emily herself will pop up on occasion, standing and staring ominously or scampering into the pit of the basement. The dolls are a white-faced, eyeless girl, a clown with a fantastic smile and a gentleman who is reminiscent of Slappy from the Goosebumps series.
The game allows you the freedom to roam around and interact. Once the enemies become active, they can mess with the lights and the environment as well - no trapping them behind doors in most cases. You have to figure out the best method of not getting trapped in a room with them and avoiding them all together - death seems very difficult to avoid. Each strategy is fairly simple once the player has it down - basic indie game stuff: maintain eye contact, don't move and run like Hell, respectively. The real challenge is balancing the hours in which all three dolls are out, as well as the final few rounds of Emily challenging you to a twisted game of hide-and-seek. You have from 12am to 6am to survive each respective round with each doll, followed by a combonation of all three dolls roaming about and finally, Emily herself. Essentially, you are playing on the schedule of a typical night guard from Five Night's at Freddys. I wonder if they deliver?
The aggression of the enemy does, unfortunately, take away the time to explore and really get a feel for what is happening. The plot isn't exactly anything groundbreaking, and I won't spoil it for you, but it might have held up more strongly if there was actually time to let the weight of Emily's story sink in before your face gets eaten off by an extremely angry doll. So, yes, the cliches are there: clowns, eyeless girls with pale skin in dresses and the stern, creepy principal always giving you a funny look in the halls. Again, nothing groundbreaking, but the manner in which the game is executed does use them effectively enough; it is enough to scare a broad audience, I think.Their ability to turn off lights, open and shut doors is certainly interesting, and the jumpscares are worth a few gasps / groans of annoyance the first few times you inevitably screw up and take a doll to the face. I must admit, the animation and design on the dolls does pop from the rest of the scenery. It is clear a lot of care went into their models and that does help them exude more character than their lifeless facade would typically allow - they certainly have more personality than most monsters that pop up to say "Boo!".
If I had any major issue, it would be that the theme to the game sounds extremely close to that of The Grudge - whether it is inspired from the movie or not is hard to say, but it was definitely distracting when first heading into the game. Music and sound quality is a big part of what makes a horror game scary and it is very easy to be taken out of the environment if the sound design isn't up to par.
On a final note, the jumpscares are reminiscent of FNAF: extremely in your face and loud, especially with the female doll. They are used effectively enough and they are somewhat in the hands of the player, which makes for an interesting experience.
Overall, I would say Emily Wants To Play is nothing new, but it is an entertaining playthrough with a few clever takes on the horror cliches it uses. The dolls have their own interesting personalities, sometimes more so than Emily herself, and I actually found myself wanting to know more about them than I did Emily. For horror fans, I would say give it a try -- it's entertaining for such a short game, it will keep you on your toes, and you will no doubt find yourself so angry by the midpoint that you'll be aching to beat Emily at her own game and flip the little brat off on your way out.