I want to start by saying Five Nights at Freddy’s is not something you would usually expect from a horror game. Its gameplay is simple and its objective is clear, playing through I’ve never felt so scared, yet so determined to complete a game such as this. In Five Nights at Freddy’s there is only one important question players must ask themselves. “Can I make it to 6am?”
The story to Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNAF) is in no way complicated. We aren’t playing Amnesia, there aren’t any M. Night Shyamalan plot twists and FNAF does not rely on creepy or disheartening plot points to keep the player scared. In any sense of the word, the plot is used as a small tool only to enhance the terrifying nature of this game. The plot is extremely vague, revealing only small subtle hints about its confusing history to initiate the great scares that lie and wait ahead.
Now enough jibber-jabber, here is what you came here for. In Five Nights at Freddy’s you play Mr. Michael (Mike) Schmidt, a man who has recently taken up a job as a security guard working the night-shift (12am – 6am) in a children restaurant called Freddy Fazbears Pizzeria. During running hours, this wonderful restaurant houses a band of animatronic animals that sing and dance for the youthful guests. However, things don’t seem to be as good at night, and the game begins at midnight of your first shift. Revealed in the first 30 seconds of the game you find out that the animatronic animals used for the children’s entertainment malfunction at night time. They like to roam around and if they see you after hours they likely won’t recognize you as a human but will think you are an animatronic without your animal costume on. At Freddy Fazbears Pizzeria this is not allowed and if they catch you they will forcibly shove your body into one of their costumes…
Throughout the game the plot is revealed through short phone messages left by the previous security guard as well as with small Easter eggs scattered throughout the game. And I must say, I love the way in which the developers chose to do the story telling in this game. With the plot being so vague to begin with, the choice made to begin the story through a strange voice-mail, left by an anonymous co-worker, works perfectly to unsettle you as you play the game for the first time. Although this easy going, nonchalant sounding person is slightly strange you soon realize he is the last of your worries and you grow a small attachment to his calming tone. The game gets much scarier and makes you feel far less safe once his recordings finish, which is the signal that the nights events are about to begin.
What makes Five Nights at Freddy’s so different yet so far ahead of
other horror games is the choice to make the gameplay extremely simple. FNAF takes us back to the good ol’ fashioned days of point and click games; the only 2 things you will be doing during the entirety of the game is click buttons and checking cameras. With FNAF you functionally cannot move and are stuck, stationary in the security office of the Pizzeria. In the office you have two windows to peek through, two doors you can open & close, and two light switches you can use to check on the outside of the doors. In addition, you also have control of the surveillance cameras and must use them to keep tabs on all the movement of the animatronic robots. You must use the cameras to watch the them during the entire duration of your shift and when they get too close to your office and attempt to get in you must close the doors. This in turn keeps you safe and prevents the animatronics from killing you. Sounds pretty simple right? Did I mention you have very limited amount of power?
That’s right, every action you preform, like closing a door or looking at a camera, costs you valuable electricity which is keeping everything else on. If you spend your power inefficiently, use too many controls at once, or leave your usage too high, you drain all your electricity and the power goes out. All the lights go out and all the doors become open, letting the animatronics run loose and preventing you from stopping them. There is no worse feeling of dread and despair than when you frantically flip through all the cameras at lightning speed trying to locate one of the animatronics. Sometimes you find them and all is good. Other times you don’t find them, and sometimes you find them when it’s just too late.
Last but not least, I must not forget the jump scares. Yes the game is creepy and yes the game will scare the daylights of out you but in terms of gameplay, there is one final thing I’m sure some of you are curious about? What happens when one of the animatronics get inside your office. Well sorry to be that guy, but I’m not going to spoil that for you. You’ll have to play the game and find that out for yourself. Just have a spare pair of underwear handy.
The Setting and Atmosphere
As explained earlier this game takes place in a children’s restaurant similar to Chuck-E-Cheese’ during the hours of midnight to 6am. Besides the main security office, the game has no other real locations besides the ones you can monitor from the cameras. But the final contributing factor to how this game goes from a good horror to a great horror is how the setting, sound and atmosphere all come together while you play. With only one primary location overall, the atmosphere of the game had to be done well so that the player would have some way of interacting and identifying who or what was moving without wasting power. The developers decided to do that with the audio. Every time certain animatronics moved they would make very faint sounds based on how far away they were (which also forces the players to wear headphones, adding to the experience) and when they are in certain locations like for example the kitchen you can hear pots and pans clang together. As a result of adding some great audio, the very simple setting design gives this wonderfully terrifying atmosphere of horror and blindness.
In conclusion, I find the FNAF is one of the best horror games I have ever played, with its simple yet demanding gameplay mechanics, horrifying nature, and some of the best jump scares I have ever experienced, this game has everything I will need for months to come. Playing through the game scared me, yet it gave me this odd sense of control where I thought I could get through the terror and prevail against the hellish animatronic animals. Other times you simply feel the dread of impending doom. It’s addicting, scary, and a refreshingly unique style of horror game; so if you’re a fan of scary games, you MUST check this game out! I give it 9/10.