Horror genre was always good at turning completely innocent things into the objects of fear. Just remember, for example, Child’s Play (1988) and a doll possessed by the serial killer’s soul that starts the killing spree.
Video game series Five Nights at Freddy’s (or as fans like to shorten it – FNaF) certainly does that by turning the epitome of most childhoods like teddy bear into a really terrifying character. Scott Cawthon seems to have that talent since the game he created, developed and published turned into a hit.
Beware of the killing teddy bear
The plot of the first three games is similar and has you playing the character of the night guard who has to monitor the Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza restaurant at night. This is a famous family establishment where the main attractions are animatronic robots who are beloved children characters. But, at night, they start roaming around the place and turn into homicidal nightmares that you must control.
In the fourth game, the game takes place in the child’s home who has to defend it from the killer robots just like in the previous games. The fifth game is set in the facility where you play a character of a technician who has to listen to the AI’s instructions and perform tasks every night. The latest game happens in the pizzeria and you take a role of the owner who has to perform similar tasks as the night guard in the first games in order to survive.
The animatronic characters have different reasons in the game to go crazy. In the first, they were possessed by the souls of the children killed at the restaurant’s site. In the second one, they start looking for people to entertain as the result of the software malfunction. The third installment is set thirty years after the previous one and you have to defend yourself from Springtrap a damaged animatronic which tries to hurt you by meddling with ventilation and camera systems.
The fourth game will probably remind you of the Home Alone movie since you play a character of a boy who has to protect himself at home from the animatronic monsters. In the fifth game, the animatronics are entertainment robots which are rented for birthday parties. You have to deal with a somewhat unreliable AI called the HandUnit, as well as with animatronic Circus Baby which will also give you instructions that will often contradict the original ones.
Five Nights at Freddy’s Pizzeria Simulator is the sixth game in the series which is a sim about running a restaurant, then at night, it turns into the survival horror. However, the two genres are perfectly integrated into one another and what you do as the manager affects the events during the night.
There are two spin-offs based on the original game. FNaF World (2016) is an RPG game with characters from the first four installments. However, the game was not well received since many gamers stated it was unfinished and soon after its release it was withdrawn from the market and the money was refunded to the buyers. Cawthon later released a free version of the game with some additional characters and minigames.
Ultimate Custom Night (2018) allows you to choose between 50 animatronics which appeared in all six games of the series and the FNaF World. The game has a custom night mode feature also lets you choose the difficulty level and the office where you will play. The game also has 16 themed modes that are available to play.
The first game was released in 2014, and the sixth and latest in 2017. FNaF’s popularity inspired the creation of the whole fandom which transferred to different media as well.
Five Nights at Freddy’s in other media
There are two novels Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Silver Eyes (2015) and Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Twisted Ones (2017) written by Scott Cawthon and Kira Breed-Wrisley published by Scholastic Inc. The third novel Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Fourth Closet was published this year in paperback and e-book formats, as well as an audiobook narrated by Suzanne Elise Freeman.
There is a guidebook Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Freddy Files (2017) authorized by Scott Cawthon which offers info on the locations, gameplay, characters and other things about the series that were never disclosed before. Five Nights at Freddy’s: Survival Logbook (2017) is a nice thing for any hardcore fan to have additional training for the future night guards working at the Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza place.
There is a movie adaptation on the way with Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone, Gremlins) at the helm but there is no further information on the cast or release date. Another great thing about the movie, besides Chris Columbus, is that the producer will be the Blumhouse Productions – the company that is famous for making low-budget but high-quality horror movies in the past decade like Insidious.
In 2016, Adventuredome, an amusement park in Las Vegas featured an attraction based on the game for Halloween. Moreover, Five Nights at Freddy’s is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the game with most sequels in one year.
The games are famous for their jump scares and they are the best and the worst parts of the game, of course. Although creating horror games for smartphones is challenging, Scott Cawthon managed it. The fandom is big and there is also merchandise you can buy from the game like McFarlane Toys which are one of the most sold products of the company in the last 20 years, as stated by Todd McFarlane himself.
If you are brave enough to go against the animatronics, the best way to completely feel the game is with lights out and headphones on. The music follows the narrative perfectly and the sounds will make your blood freeze in your veins. The gameplay is not too hard and you will be able to navigate through the game with some hiccups and challenges that might require a walkthrough. But don’t worry, there is a number of them on YouTube and you will be back in the dark world of the killing machines in no time.