Game Review – Five Nights at Freddy’s


Welcome to your new summer job at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, where kids and parents alike come for entertainment and food as far as the eye can see! The main attraction is Freddy Fazbear, of course; and his two friends. They are animatronic robots, programmed to please the crowds! The robots’ behavior has become somewhat unpredictable at night however, and it was much cheaper to hire you as a security guard than to find a repairman.

From your small office you must watch the security cameras carefully. You have a very limited amount of electricity that you’re allowed to use per night (corporate budget cuts, you know). That means when you run out of power for the night- no more security doors and no more lights! If something isn’t right- namely if Freddybear or his friends aren’t in their proper places, you must find them on the monitors and protect yourself if needed!

Can you survive five nights at Freddy’s?

That is the official synopsis for this little horror game that took the internet by storm back in August of 2014.  It created one of the largest internet fandoms since Welcome to Night Vale practically overnight.  Popularity only grew larger (and perhaps this is the reason it became popular) when the popular YouTube Let’s Player, Markiplier, did his playthrough of it.  What was this horror game?  You’re sitting in an office with no way to move, watching security cameras in this Chuck E. Cheese-esque establishment and the animatronics start moving around and coming to kill you.  It’s such a simple gameplay mechanic, and all it amounts to is a jumpscare when you die, right?

One day I was sitting down in the basement and I could hear my brother watching Markiplier videos from upstairs.  Then I started to hear screaming and I was honestly wondering what was going on.  Then he came and told me to come watch with him, so I did.  What I saw was one of the scariest things ever devised and I couldn’t even tell you why.  It was just an experience you had to feel for yourself to know the true horror of it.  The animatronics looked so freakish.  After watching them all in a row, I started to have nightmares and horrible images in my head that made it impossible for me to sleep and I swore I would never watch another Five Nights at Freddy’s video again.  But I was still morbidly curious about it.


Night 5 Phone Call

When the second game came out 3 months later, I watched Markiplier’s playthrough of it, and again got terribly scared just the same way.  But even so, I still had that morbid curiosity that couldn’t be sated.  What was it about these games?  The story.  The story was so well crafted that I just had to know more about it, had to keep going.  I eventually got over my fear of these games to the point of being desensitized to them, but I still love them.  I decided to get the demos for both games and play them.  Only 2 nights.  The first two nights of each are nothing at all.  Once I beat the demos, I craved more.  I was afraid to play more, but I craved it nonetheless.  So I bought both the games.

If you have been following my blog for the past week or so, you may have noticed the fan fiction I was posting that were chronicles of my playthrough of the game, written as if I – or rather Mike Schmidt – was experiencing this all and telling the world of it.  So basically I ended up writing my own Creepypasta without realizing it.  Yay.

I have often stated that I believe video games are the best media for the horror genre.  Why?  Because video games are interactive, and thus when you’re interacting with the horrific environment, you yourself are going to feel more vulnerable and like everything that is happening in the game is actually happening to you.  That may not be the case with all people, but it is most of the time.  When you are in danger and have nowhere to run to, it’s a completely different scenario than watching other people being in that same situation (like with movies or books).

Five Nights at Freddy’s is a masterpiece of horror.  It builds up the atmosphere and the anticipation of what’s going to happen to you.  It’s been called a “stress-management” game, and that is the perfect word for it.  If you don’t know what you’re getting into when you first play, you’re going to be freaking out, and when you get stress and anxiety, you’re more likely to fail and get one of those dreaded jumpscare deaths.  But when you make it through just one night, the feeling of satisfaction is so great.



Then comes the story of the game, which is cleverly hidden and makes you go actively searching for it (and yet at the same time you shouldn’t be looking for too long or you’ll die).  This is a true case of less is more.  They never directly tell you the back story of the game, but you find plenty of hints and clues when looking through the cameras… but only on occasion.  In one of the cameras, there’s a sign on the wall that normally has a list of rules.  Sometimes, however, when you look at it, it will have changed to one of four newspaper articles talking about incidents of missing children or the possibility of the establishment closing down due to sanitation complaints.  And then, of course, there’s the terrifying Golden Freddy, who I was doing my best to avoid an encounter with by never checking the one camera that he spawns from (and I succeeded, too).

Now, there have been many fan theories about this game, and more of the backstory has been revealed from the release of the second game, but I’m not going to talk about that, as there are plenty of other sources you can go to if you’re curious.  All I’m going to say about it is that the way the story is told is brilliant; it’s shrouded in mystery, it’s subtle, it leaves you wanting more.  If you get sucked in by wanting to know the story like I did, you will never return from Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza again, because you’ll be coming back night after night just to try and figure out what the heck is going on.

About the game itself.  It’s extremely simple gameplay, but that actually works in its favor.  Again, the less is more factor.  You can’t move.  You’re stuck in one place, with only two security doors to put down to keep you safe, but in the process it makes you feel more claustrophobic.  Not only that, but keeping the doors down (and using the lights and the cameras for that matter) drains your limited power supply, so essentially, no matter what you do, you’re screwed.  The jumpscares terrified me when I was first watching videos of it.  Every time I knew they were about to come, I had to close my eyes and press my hands over my ears.  They were frightening.  The animatronics look scary, and that scream they make is awful (especially if you hear the full version of it).  And then there’s Foxy.  The first time I saw him sprinting down the hallway and then popping into the room, it messed me up (and probably most everyone else).  Up until that point, you don’t actually see anything move, so to see something sprinting to come and get you is just so terrifying.


Heeeere’s Foxy!

But like I said earlier, after watching the videos for a long time, and then finally playing it for myself, I’ve become desensitized to it.  It’s not scary.  It’s still stressful, yes, but it doesn’t disturb me like it once did, which I am grateful for.  Though I have a feeling by the time the third game comes out, it’s going to give me a whole new thing to lose sleep over, at least for a little while.

Realizing that this game was made by just one person makes it all that more amazing.  Scott Cawthon, the game’s creator, is truly a genius and I commend him for his mastery of horror and subtlety, as well as clever gameplay design for something that could have so easily been terrible.  There are so many hidden gems in this game and some people can’t even see them all because it’s a random chance factor (or maybe even a glitch), but if you find those rare random encounters, it will most likely bring back the scares you’ve been desensitized to and you’ll have a whole new set of nightmares to cry about (not sure if that’s a good thing or not).

I give this game a solid 5/5.  I survived Five Nights at Freddy’s and I survived the sixth night as well.  I have yet to conquer 20/20/20/20 mode, and I may go crazy trying to do it.  But perhaps someday I will.  Until then, everybody, sweet dreams.




One thought on “Game Review – Five Nights at Freddy’s

  1. Yeah, I realized the second night in that your fanfiction was basically a creepypasta – but if more people wrote them even half as well as you did, it would be a much more respected genre.

    I think it succeeds because you weren’t writing from the point of view of someone playing a game, but as a character in the story. The main mistake I see in creepypastas is that no matter how much a game messes with you, you can turn it off and walk away, no matter what the author insists. You can’t very easily walk away from your job because you’re scared of the animatronics.

    Anyway, nice review. I don’t think I will be playing this because I have a pretty low tolerance for horror, especially in visual mediums, but it does demonstrate that jumpscares can be done very well. They’re used so often in low-quality games that I’ve gotten a bit unfairly cynical about them. The gameplay also sounds excellent precisely because it’s minimalistic – a lot of games add so many features that it detracts from the experience. And when you’re writing a horror game, I would think the experience is key: the building up of suspense, the use of sound and lighting to create atmosphere, and so on.

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