Five Nights at Freddy’s: A Mastery of Anticipation Horror
The Five Nights at Freddy’s game is a lot of things. It has proved to be surprisingly polarizing among gamers, with some loving it and some absolutely hating it. While I’m not big on speculating about the lore of Five Nights at Freddy’s, as I feel like I don’t fully understand it (having not beaten the games).
I have, however, been thinking a great deal about what goes into making these games so effective at drawing out fear, anxiety, stress, and frustration in gamers. Obviously this isn’t concrete, and it’s well past when it should have been posted…but it’s been a long day.
Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 feels like a fully-realized vision for what Five Nights at Freddy’s could have been. It’s the best possible progression from the first game in so many ways. Writer’s Note: any instances of the animatronics’ names implies, unless said otherwise, that I’m talking about the Nightmare versions in this game. I realized I omitted that title a few times and I’m just too tired to fix it. Not even sort of sorry.
FNAF 4 is unique in that it’s played with a child for the main character. The story begins with a Fredbear plush trying to calm down the protagonist who is crying because he’s been locked in his room again. It becomes clear that there is a party in five days, that the protagonist’s older brother torments him regularly by preying on his fear of the animatronics, I won’t really say much more, as the game is still new enough that I’d hate to spoil even a little of it. Just know that this game seems to be another prequel-sequel.
Bonnie, overall, has always been my favorite in terms of creeping me out. This? Damn it, Scott Cawthon.
Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 – Springtrap is more than enough to kill you
Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 takes place thirty years after the original game, with Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza having become a distant memory surrounded by horrifying rumors and children disappearing, murders, and so on. Like any local legend, someone decided to cash in on this by turning one of the old buildings into Fazbear’s Fright, a horror attraction based on the murders and disappearances and less on the warm and fuzzies people might have felt surrounding good old Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza.
The attraction itself is full of artifacts from the old restaurants, and players get to act as the night guard (mostly to make sure no one steals anything, the new phone guy says, or makes out somewhere in the attraction). There’s some disappointment, however, because though the place has an authentic–and creepy–feel, it lacks one thing: animatronics. Night 1 goes smoothly, with no jumpscares or horror. The ambiance of the attraction is one thing, but having to check the cameras for both the attraction and the vents throughout the building, the doorway to the office, and maintain various systems (audio distractions, the ventilation system, and the video feeds for the cameras). Because the building is so old, if the vents stop working things get even more pants-shittingly terrifying.
Night 2, however, is where the real terror begins. Phone Dude informs players that some of the old training tapes were found from back when there were wearable suits that doubled as animatronics. Even better, however, is that they found one. A real one. They found a working animatronic from the old restaurants.
This is a moment I’ve gotten used to seeing. God damn it, Springtrap.