Sometimes simpler is better when it comes to video games. AAA games may add brand-new mechanics and next-generation graphics, but it can be good to get back to basics. Only some games need to revolutionize the industry or attempt to follow trends in hopes of becoming famous. Indie game developers understand that games, at their core, are meant to be fun. The same applies to Friday Night Funkin’. This small web game adopts a decades-old approach to rhythm games, delivering players a fresh and unforgettable experience.
What is Friday Night Funkin’?
Friday Night Funkin’ is a musical rhythm game where players battle against opponents in freestyles. A small team, consisting of four people, developed the game in 2020 for a game jam. Originally released as a demo, the game has undergone numerous updates and quality-of-life changes. The game currently features seven levels, with three weekly freestyle battles.
Over 15 million fans and critics alike have played the game on Newgrounds and given it overwhelming support. The team announced a Kickstarter for a new, full version of the game titled Friday Night Funkin’: The Full Ass Game. The project has already received over $2 million in funding and is currently in development. The team promises “more advanced animation, collaboration, and software-esc features” added to the full release.
Friday Night Funkin’ Review
At its core Friday Night Funkin’ is akin to Dance Dance Revolution but for your fingers. The story is simple and motivates you to defeat each opponent. As Boyfriend, you must beat each opponent in a freestyle battle to continue dating Girlfriend. However, this can be lost on some people as it’s not overtly shown or discussed. But the story doesn’t matter, as most players will be playing for the gameplay.
The game follows a simple yet addictive gameplay loop. You have to mimic your opponent’s freestyle by clicking the corresponding buttons. This continues back and forth until the end of the battles when both characters start a duet. Instead of seeing what the upcoming buttons are, you have to respond on the fly as inputs get more complex. And this is the fun part and why Friday Night Funkin’ provides a fresh take on the musical rhythm genre.
As you battle your opponent, the meter on the bottom of the screen moves, dictating who is currently winning. The more inputs you mess up, the more your opponent will take over and start winning. Having that active bar on the bottom creates a sense of urgency to do well, and if you start seeing more red than green, it drives you to do better or causes you to mess up even further.
Let’s take a deeper look at the game and break down why everyone should play this game at least once. Even if you aren’t a fan of rhyme games, you can still find enjoyment in the art style and music.
The music of this game is fantastic. Although some songs feature lyrics, most are simple beats and noises that characters make. This may sound boring to some, but you can only help but enjoy the melody due to the back-and-forth nature and rhythm. This creates an exciting differentiation between games like Dance Dance Revolution or Taiko no Tatsujin, which often rely on upbeat rhythms or well-known lyrical songs. In Friday Night Funkin’, you get something entirely new and unique.
After repeatedly attempting battles to get a perfect score or to win, you will find yourself humming the melodies to yourself hours later. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about some lyrical songs the game uses. The lyrics can be strange and break immersion, specifically in the battle against Monster. And while it may not be perfect, it doesn’t take away from the overall game, and it will be exciting to see what they can do with the full release of their new game Friday Night Funkin’: The Full Ass Game. The team has brought board musicians to record samples to help create a diverse body of work and a richer all-around experience.
Battles and Progression
The battle and progression system is straightforward. Each week consists of three battles that ramp up in difficulty, and here are seven weeks in total. You can choose from three difficulty options: Easy, Normal, or Hard. And while the game provides a tutorial for newcomers, the gameplay is easy and intuitive to understand. Click the corresponding key that you see on the screen when it reaches the arrow mark.
The significant part about the battles is that they feel meaningful because you are battling against an opponent, not yourself. Friday Night Funkin’ more resembles Battle mode in a DDR game. This opens the realm of possibilities with the release of the whole game. For example, there’s an online mode where players can battle in freestyles against one another or a duet mode where you and a friend can battle against another pair, taking turns and battling over the crowd.
Friday Night Funkin’ has one of the most active and supportive communities in all of gaming. The game’s Reddit page has over 100k members who constantly share news, memes, and support for the game. But the best part about the community is the mods. Since the developers made the game open-source, anyone can take the game and add their own twist or style to it. This has led to hundreds of mods created and shared for anyone to enjoy. If you finished Friday Night Funkin’ and can’t wait for the full release, consider playing fan mods. The top-rated ones are polished games, just like the original, and feature new and exciting music. Some also add their own unique twist on battle mechanics that I’ll let you find out for yourself what they are.
If you want to join an active community that constantly pushes the limits and offers support and engagement to new and old fans alike, Friday Night Funkin’ is perfect. The game and community have only been growing since its release, with YouTubers putting out consistent content for the game.
Since Friday Night Funkin’ is free to play online, meaning that anyone can access it, any player should check it out. If not for the gameplay, at least see how a simple concept for a game jam can be made into a full release with a dedicated fan base. Indie games are becoming more popular each day due to developers interacting and listening to community members and understanding that gamers want to have fun, first and foremost. While the game may not offer the most replayability, its high polish stands out for a web game. Although rejected for a port to the Nintendo Switch because they said it wasn’t a complete game, fans have made their own port that can be downloaded onto the system.
Friday Night Funkin’: The Full Ass Game has not yet received a release date. Fans expect the game will not release for a few more years. Due to the success of the Kickstarter fundraiser, the team has promised multiple features, including new gameplay mechanics, cutscenes, two-player mode, online leaderboards, and more. The chance to donate to the project is closed, with the last update received on February 11, 2023. The development team has a blog where they post weekly updates to keep fans engaged and to confirm that it is, in fact, real.