I am sure that at this point in time, almost everyone has heard about a pretty spooky series of games called Five Nights at Freddy’s. In general, the premise of the games is to survive five nights (plus bonus nights, if you so choose, though bonus was a bad choice of words on my part), usually as a security guard, against the animatronics of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, the main ones being Freddy Fazbear himself, Bonnie the bunny, Chica the chicken, and the defunct Foxy the pirate. For the duration of the games, you are stuck in a single room and must typically check security cameras to keep an eye on the animatronics, who wander about freely at night and, if they spot you, will mistake you for a metal endoskeleton without its suit on. This wouldn’t be so bad if their response wasn’t to forcibly stuff you into an empty suit. Which is fatal. To put it lightly. (Of course, each game has different variations of this core concept, with the third and fourth games differing the most. But, that pretty much covers the basics. So if you haven’t looked into the series yet, you are more or less caught up.)
I had been hearing about the series for quite a while, but I didn’t become interested in checking it out until the comicon masquerade I attended earlier this year, which included two people cosplaying as characters from the series, Toy Chica and Foxy. After that, I was intrigued and looked the game up on the Internet, during which I was subject to all manner of terrifying videos of what has to be the scariest game in existence. I watched the first game in utmost dread, with no idea of what to expect. The longer I watched, the more uneasy I became, until the first animatronic disappeared from its spot on stage, only to be picked up on camera in an entirely different location. And despite merely watching the happenings on my screen, without any involvement but that of a spectator, I became truly anxious. And this anxiety only grew as the night crept towards 6:00 AM and the power slowly dwindled. Never before has several hours (condensed into several minutes) felt so long.
Oh, but despite the horror of it all, I kept watching. Yes, I had not yet had enough, so I decided next to check out the second game, which I found a bit too confusing. So many strategies had to be employed to keep the animatronics away, many of which only affected a few, if not simply one. And you’d have to find out for yourself which one that was. God help you with the rest. I cowered from the safety of my couch as the player would desperately try anything that came to mind to ward off whatever had wandered into their office. But, if you think that was enough to make me run screaming, forever doomed to sleep with the lights on for the rest of my miserable life, you would be wrong. I then began watching videos for the third game, though this one baffled me more than ever. Frankly, I never figured out what was going on in that one. All I knew was that Springtrap was the most frightening animatronic yet. How I hated that thing. Shudder. I never did watch much of the third game….
And then the fourth and final game was released not too long ago, and I immediately rushed back to my friendly neighborhood Youtube to check it out. This game is rather different from the others, and yet it has kind of a similar feel to that of the first game. (If someone who has never played any of the games can really make such an assessment.) This time, the playable character is a child, not a security guard, and the game takes place at night in the child’s bedroom. The entire night, you must watch out for animatronics that appear in your closet, on the bed, or out in the two hallways on either side of your room. I hear it is meant to be a nightmare, but I will not divulge any further details on the matter. All I can say is that the game eventually reveals some very important information concerning a mystery that was mentioned in the first game. I shall say no more. Nope. You can’t make me.
So, now that I’ve told you about my minimal experience with the series, I want to know, who here was brave enough to actually play the games? While I have considered it from time to time, I still have been unable to bring myself to play it. And I don’t know if I ever will. It took all my willpower just to play Slender: The 9 Pages. Seriously, the first time I tried, I became so terrified that I gave up upon locating the first page. Slender Man doesn’t appear until you collect the first page, you see, and I just couldn’t bear (ha, pun not intended, wait, what?) the thought of that faceless monstrosity tracking me down. Not long later, however, I was able to return to the game and played it many times over the course of several weeks, and I was eventually able to collect a maximum of 6 or 7 pages before I was caught. (Honestly, though, what an unrealistic concept. Why on earth would my character be wandering about some weird abandoned basement in the first place?)
Nevertheless, despite braving the horrors of Slender, Five Nights at Freddy’s (or FNAF, if you’d prefer to shorten it) seems so much more terrifying. I mean, you’re stuck in this one room, just waiting for these mechanical monstrosities to come find you. Not to mention the fact that there are four you must watch out for in the first game (maybe five, actually). I can run from Slender Man. I can’t run from these guys, nor would I ever choose to wander that place alone at night for fear of running into the other animatronics I wasn’t currently in the middle of running from. Plus, Slender Man is not really that scary looking. I mean, yeah, he’s tall and thin and has no face. That’s scary and all, but if you squint, you could perhaps convince yourself that he’s just a tall guy in a suit. Yeah, that’s it. I’m merely being stalked by an unnaturally tall, faceless guy, well-dressed, mind you, that can teleport at will and strikes me blind if I look at him.
Okay, yes, I admit it. Slender Man still gives me the chills.
The animatronics of FNAF are just scarier. That’s it. Looking into their lifeless eyes and catching the glint of a second set of teeth within their jaws is just frightening. If you’re brave enough to play these games, I am impressed. Because there’s a really good chance I never will. Ever. Unless I mute it and close my eyes. And make someone else do it for me. Watching the games was an experience I won’t soon forget.
(Edit: Clearly I spoke too soon. As of writing this, I was too afraid to play this game. As of publishing this article, however, I have overcome my crippling fear. So you’ll be hearing more about this game in the future….)
Five Nights at Ducky’s