Developer: Scott Cawthorn
Platform: Windows, Android, iOS
Released in 2014, and going on to spawn two more sequels, Five Nights at Freddy’s is the brainchild of one man – Scott Cawthorn. It is a unique horror game that has reached unprecedented popularity very quickly, spawning countless clones and theories about the backstory.
I was somewhat late to the party, having only recently played all three games. Regardless of that fact, I have quickly become enthralled by the series and its unique style. This article will be the first in a series of 3, more should Scott develop anymore, looking at the first game in the series.
Regarding the actual story of Five Nights at Freddy’s… a lot of it is up for debate. Not even Scott Cawthorn has divulged too much about the story, instead leaving it up to the obsessive fanbase to come up with countless theories about what has happened throughout the franchise’s history.
What we do know, however, is that you take on the role of Mike Schmidt in this game. Mike is the night security guard at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza – a Chuck E. Cheese-esque restaurant that is home to several Animatronics – and it is his job to ensure everything runs smoothly during the night. At night, the Animals come to life and wander the halls. During so, they will kill just about anything in sight and unfortunately you are the only thing in the building!
Why Mike continues to work this job is a mystery, and – like just about everything else to do with the series – is the subject of countless theories.
Go ahead and look up some theories about this series! The fanbase has some really creative ideas! There’s not much else to say about the story, to be honest. As mentioned before, so much of it is just theories and very little is concrete at this moment in time.
Five Nights at Freddy’s at its core is an extremely simple game; it is a point and click survival horror game played through the eyes of a protagonist who comes in the form of a Mike. Mike sits in an office, working a 12am till 6am security shift and cannot move from his chair.
Whilst on the job, Mike can observe the entire restaurant through the in-store CCTV, shut two doors – one on either side of his room – and turn on a couple lights to view the areas just outside his door. These are all extremely important actions, as doing these will be what keeps you alive during your shift. You have a limited power, however, so doing any of these actions will increase your power consumption which will in turn increase the rate at which the restaurant loses power – and you guessed it, the second you run out of power you are completely vulnerable to any attack from the animatronics.
The night is made up of 6 hours, each one lasting about 80 seconds in the PC version – I believe they are shorter in the mobile versions. The aim of the game is to survive until 6am and then return the following day with each night getting progressively harder. Repeat this for – you guessed it! – Five Nights and congrats! Game complete!
There are 4 Animatronic enemies in the first game – Freddy, Bonnie, Chica and Foxy – and each one has its own movement patterns and quirks that you will have to learn in order to survive. It’s pretty cool that each one is different, as for the first few times playing the game it will really force you to stay on your feet, constantly being aware. With the exception of Foxy, they all start on the stage each night and as the night goes on they will start to make their way to your office in order to kill you. Obviously this is why you are equipped with access to the CCTV system to monitor their locations as well as being able to shut the doors.
As mentioned before, Five Nights at Freddy’s is a horror game and unfortunately it does rely on the occasional jump scare here and there, which in my opinion is quite a cheap way at being “scary”, however these are quite rare as you get to grips with the game. Instead Five Nights focuses on creating an extremely tense atmosphere, forcing the player to be constantly on edge and wanting to check their cameras and shut their doors for an easy escape, whilst at the same time not allowing them to overuse these features, for fear and paranoia of that ever decreasing power supply.
Five Nights at Freddy’s’ graphics are nothing to shout about, especially in this day and age – but considering that the whole game was made by just one man I think it’s more than ok to let that slide.
Just because the graphics aren’t fantastic doesn’t affect my view of the game in anyway whatsoever, though. Graphics don’t make the game, and hey, when most of my favourite (and most played, even to this day) games are from the mid-90s, I am really not one to complain about a few jaggies here and there.
Overall, Five Nights at Freddy’s is a pretty damn interesting game. I’ve never been one for horror games, in fact I’m actually quite the wimp when it comes down to it. With that in mind though, there’s something just so interesting that draws me to this game series, specifically the first.
Scott Cawthorn has really mastered the art of creating a tense and thrilling environment that forces the player to stay on their toes at all times. I definitely recommend checking out this game, either version to be honest – I’ve played both and both are equally great.