Can’t Wait to Meet You: A Look into the FNAF Franchise

So join the animatronic family!

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Scott Cawthon

Introducing Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach!

PART 1: Intro to the Franchise, Danna Chalela.

Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNAF) is an indie horror game series created by American video game developer Scott Cawthon. The franchise has taken the media by storm since the release of the first game in 2014. The game revolves around a family pizzeria restaurant, Fazbear’s Pizza, widely inspired by real-life restaurant chains such as Showbiz Pizza and Chuck E. Cheese. The basic premise of the majority of the games in this franchise has the player playing as a night-time security guard at Fazbear’s Pizza. But what happens when a typical night shift becomes a struggle for survival? The player has to use the tools available to defend themselves from the restaurant’s animatronics, which tend to get a little quirky at night. 

Hello, hello? Uh, I wanted to record a message for you to help you get settled in on your first night. Um, I actually worked in that office before you. I’m finishing up my last week now, as a matter of fact. So, I know it can be a bit overwhelming, but I’m here to tell you there’s nothing to worry about. Uh, you’ll do fine. So, let’s just focus on getting you through your first week. Okay?”

In 2014, I was an eight-year-old. However, I was an eight-year-old with unlimited internet access. Thus, I found about Five Nights at Freddy’s the moment it gained internet popularity. I never played it myself, considering I was an eight-year-old with a tremendous fear of the dark, so instead I resorted to watching Let’s Play videos online, particularly Markiplier’s videos. It’s safe to say I was a little too fascinated at the concept of killer robots and watching other people share this fascination was exciting. I adored the first game’s introduction to the iconic cast of characters– Chica, Bonnie, Foxy, and of course, Freddy Fazbear. 

An in-game poster featured in the first Five Nights at Freddy’s game. From left to right: Bonnie the bunny, Freddy Fazbear, and Chica the chicken. (Scott Cawthon)

The original game will always be my favorite,” explained an ILS junior. “It never gets old and it has aged extremely well. It’s still terrifying, but fun. Sometimes I still go back to watch Markiplier’s videos about it. The first Five Nights at Freddy’s game shaped the face of horror games now, as it was and remains an authentic and new concept, not to mention it was extremely well done.”

Not even four months after the release of the first game, the second game debuted. It was astounding how quickly Cawthon worked, and I, alongside many others, was ecstatic to see what new mechanisms and storylines would be added into the second game. Not only did we get to see our original main four cast (albeit worn down), we had a brand new set of characters, including the reveal of William Afton, who the fanbase only knew as the Purple Guy at the moment. The second game, to this day, is my favorite. It just brought forth so many new elements and introduced one of the biggest storylines in the franchise. The character designs were spectacularly horrifying, yet they seemed perfect to represent a family restaurant. The fanbase really flourished around this time, countless new fans joining in to create theories or even produce fan songs about their speculations. It truly was an amazing thing to witness the uprising of content creators on the internet due to this silly little indie horror game.

An iconic 2014 meme of two anime characters playing Five Nights at Freddy’s 2.

Despite my early enthusiasm, I fell out of my FNAF phase shortly after the third emerged around three months later. While the third game is considered the scariest for many players, I simply wasn’t impressed. The visuals were boring and the main cast of characters were nowhere to be seen. I couldn’t understand how people enjoyed this game so much. Perhaps it was because I was an elementary schooler who couldn’t really understand the newly introduced Springtrap’s plot relevance. 

As years went by, more Five Nights at Freddy’s games were being released (alongside novels and the announcement of a film adaptation). While I wasn’t exactly as in touch with the franchise as I was in the fourth grade, I didn’t exactly fully separate myself from it. I watched in the distance as piles upon piles of lore continued to be added onto this storyline and I found myself thinking “Isn’t this a little too much?

I’d catch myself watching MatPat’s multi-hour-long theory videos in an attempt to catch up with what was going on in the story, but it all felt too confusing for my little brain to understand. At some point, I just gave up on comprehending the storyline and instead just admired the games and character designs from a distance… until Security Breach was released, of course.

The main animatronics in the Security Breach game are known as the Glamrocks. From left to right: Glamrock Chica, Glamrock Freddy Fazbear, Montgomery Gator, and Roxanne Wolf. (Via PlayStation.blog)


PART 2: Security Breach, Maya Martinez.

I thought it was really unique and fun,” explained an ILS senior. “After watching previous games and comparing it to SB, it was such a drastic change in mechanics and environment, especially since it’s a free roam. It’s not as scary, but all the characters have such cool designs and their personalities and quirks are really fun to investigate.” 

Security Breach has both similarities and differences to the past FNAF games. For one, the Freddy animatronic is nice and helps you complete all the tasks to finish the game, contrary to his previously hostile tendencies in the rest of the games. Also, in a lot of games, you play as a security guard; however, in this game you are trying to outrun both the animatronics and the security guard. The jumpscares are anticipated by warning sounds by the security bots. 

“I honestly didn’t think it was that good due to the fact that it was rushed but I still enjoyed playing it. There were some glitches but it was still good to me,”, said sophomore Enrique Lara.

An in-game glitch in which multiple copies of Freddy Fazbear’s character model appear on screen. (u/rewerze via Reddit)

This game is also interesting to me because in lots of games, for example, FNAF 3, you don’t move around the building, besides moving your POV (Point of View) from right to left. That’s why I feel like Security Breach is more enjoyable, even though the jump-scares aren’t as scary. You get to free roam around the mall and complete different tasks while collecting tokens, which in turn keeps you on your toes the whole time. According to the lore, the animatronics in Security Breach are not possessed, which is the first game to ever have that. 

“FNAF 2 is my favorite game because the design is very appealing and the characters are drawn out very well,” added sophomore Nadia Pages. “It has pretty good colors and it’s one of the easiest games to get through.”.

One thing that really catches the eye of new fans and old fans alike are the character designs. Some characters, such as Chica and Freddy, make reappearances with brand new Glamrock designs. Some new characters are introduced as well, such as Montgomery Gator (who replaced Bonnie) and Roxanne Wolf (who replaced Foxy). Each animatronic is fully sentient, making for some rather interesting dialogue…

You are the best! Thank you. I am the best. I am the best.”

— Roxanne Wolf, talking to herself at the beginning of the game.

A variety of other new characters were introduced, such as the useless Map Bot, DJ Music Man, and the fan-favorite daycare assistants Sun and Moon, of which sparked some passion among our interviewees.

“(My favorite animatronic) is Sundrop. Do I even need to say why? He is literally the best animatronic ever and those who say he isn’t are entirely wrong,” emphasized an ILS sophomore.

The fan-favorite daycare attendant, Sun, in all of its glory. (Scott Cawthon)

Although Security Breach is definitely one of a kind, some things never change. In FNAF 2, hiding was introduced. Players were able to use masks of the animatronic’s faces to blend in. In Security Breach, the hiding feature is in discrete locations such as trash bins, desks, and photo booths. 

“Besides the obvious bugs and glitches, I think the concept of the game is very cool and refreshing. I wish it was executed better but it makes for an enjoyable game,” said senior Caitlyn Gil. 

FNAF has been popular on social media and the online gamer community for a while, but the release of Security Breach really hit the charts. This is especially because it went viral on TikTok, probably because of the aesthetic and fun backstory behind it.

“I like the original the best simply because of all the nostalgia it brings back,” said sophomore Caroline Barrabes. 

Another reason why it’s so enjoyable to people like me is because of the lore. I first watched it pretty recently and I was simply captivated. It was so detailed and descriptive, but so complex at the same time. It was interesting to me to see the connections between what happens in the lore and the games themselves. At a lot of points in watching the one hour-long YouTube video about it. I had to rewind because of how complicated it is. If you haven’t watched it yet I highly recommend it. 

“I really like Michael Afton. He’s a lad trying his best to right the wrongs of his father. I think he’s a cool character and his importance to the lore really says a lot about him,” explained an ILS senior. 

An image of Michael Afton from the fan-made FNAF lore. He is the son of the main antagonist in the story. (Vía YouTube)

 

Part 3: Criticisms, by Danna Chalela.

While many FNAF fanatics adore the lore, there are plenty of fans who have issues with it. While many fans praise Scott Cawthon and claim he is a genius for adding so many layers to his story, others believe it’s simply messy story-telling. I happen to be one of the people who believe the latter. I’m a big fan of franchises that tell incredible, complex, and deep stories– Video games such as the Omori or series such as the Walten Files (which happens to be inspired by FNAF) do an excellent job of portraying such complex stories. However, Five Nights at Freddy’s misses the mark in terms of storytelling. The gameplay and design of the entire franchise are phenomenal, but the writing does irk me quite a bit. There’s a point where things become too complicated… and FNAF reached that point years ago.

This is an incredibly unpopular opinion as one of the things that brought FNAF its popularity is the lore itself. Creating theories and connecting the dots is one of the most exciting things about being in the fanbase of such a lore-heavy game. However, part of that excitement comes with the satisfaction of having confirmation whether your speculations were correct or not. The FNAF franchise hardly ever gives fans that satisfaction. These new details that kept being thrown into the series raised more questions rather than answered them. You shouldn’t have to look into every crevice to get a mere gist of the plot. It’s frustrating.

Each game became so lore-based but the secrets and clues were so on the nose and vague, it was impossible to create a story and a theory. There’s just so much to keep up with spanning 9 games and several books which may or may not be canon; it is just so confusing and it caused many to lose interest. Like, not even MatPats game theories make sense anymore as he has made so many that the story is impossible to keep up with.”

— u/IAmTheGlazed via Reddit

I think FNAF does have an interesting story, but let’s be real… the “lore” is really muddy. A good chunk of the storyline that we know and love is purely based on fan speculation and fan speculation alone. This brings me to my next point: How much of the lore was really planned in the first place? Many believe he just made things up as he went along, taking bits and pieces of fan theories and claiming that many of these minor and seemingly insignificant details were planned all along.

The unintentionally horrifying face of Chipper & Sons Lumber Company. (Scott Cawthon)

Five Nights at Freddy’s was almost Cawthon’s last game. The only reason the franchise exists is because of hate for Cawthon’s previous games, such as Chipper & Sons Lumber Company. Chipper & Sons Lumber Company was supposed to be a child-friendly Windows game. However, the game received an insane amount of backlash due to how horrifying the character designs were. Many compared the characters to eery animatronics, thus urging Cawthon to create FNAF, a game with intentionally horrifying robot characters. It really makes you wonder if the only reason the FNAF series went on for so long was because of its success rather than Cawthon wanting to solidify this seemingly complex story.

Lots of fans were also incredibly annoyed with the fact the new game, Security Breach, left some more plot holes and unanswered questions. Security Breach has some of my favorite gameplay, but story-wise, it doesn’t make much sense. Most people consider Five Nights at Freddy’s: Pizza Simulator the true ending of FNAF. In this game, the main antagonists finally die in a fire! Yippee! However a new set of characters and possible villains are revealed in Security Breach, night-guard Vanessa and killer Vanny, but their appearances in Security Breach are scarce. Vanessa was mentioned in Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted leading fans to believe her role in Security Breach was going to be larger. Vanessa and Vanny’s lack of screentime leaves many fans questioning their motives, and chances are, none of those questions will be answered due to Scott Cawthon’s retirement from game development. Many theorize Vanessa being manipulated by Vanny in order to resurrect the Aftons. At the same time, many believe she and Vanny are the same person. Security Breach leaves us with lots of questions that we simply wouldn’t have if Cawthon didn’t attempt to connect it to the previous games.

A Funko figurine displaying Vanessa (left) and Vanny (right). (GameStop)

“I think it was rushed into release. They definitely had a plan much bigger than they anticipated which resulted in the constant postponing of the actual release. The trailer was very different from the end product and it was incredibly glitchy! (…) I was expecting more on Vanessa and Vanny and their connection to the cassette tapes from Help Wanted, though,” explained an ILS sophomore.

Perhaps games don’t need mountains and piles of lore to be considered good. Perhaps games just need a solid storyline rather than a muddied mess of small details.

Part 4: Conclusion, by Maya Martinez.
Although you wouldn’t expect it, FNAF is a really interesting and convoluted game, with an inspiring but funny backstory. So, if you haven’t yet, try Five Nights at Freddy’s!