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‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’: Quite Possibly the Scariest Game You’ll Ever Play



Five Nights at Freddy’s is an indie point-and-click survival horror video game developed by Scott Cawthon using the Multimedia Fusion engine. The game was released August 8, 2014, and in less than two weeks after its initial release, it was successfully greenlit for sale on Steam.

Cawthon delivers a riveting work that also breaks considerable new ground. Radically fresh and every bit as frightening, Five Nights at Freddy’s has a very simple setup: and somehow that simple premise turns it into an effective delivery mechanism for sparse, economic horror. The peculiar title plunges gamers into the nightmarish hellscape of a children’s entertainment center similar to Chuck E. Cheese’s, where animatronic animals entertain children during the daytime, and at night, come to life to terrorize their night security guard.

The game puts you in the role of a night watchman named Schmidt, hired to work five graveyard shifts back to back. If you survive, Schmidt receives a paycheck for $120.00 and a note from the restaurant’s owner asking him to return the following week, to work two additional shifts. No spoilers here, but on the seventh and final night, Schmidt uncovers the dark secret behind the killer mascots, and their relentless pursuit to terrorize the night-shift security guards. That said, very few people make it that far, so best of luck trying to finish the game.


As the night watchmen, your job is to monitor a series of cameras that overlook most of the rooms in Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, save for a few blind spots, and the kitchen which for some reason has a security cam that remains out of order. So basically, players flick through the various screens to keep an eye on the establishment. The cameras are laid out on a grid in the lower right of the screen, and it doesn’t take long before you notice that the animatronic mascots (Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie the Bunny, Chica the Chicken, and Foxy the Pirate Fox) have come to life, and are moving from camera to camera, heading closer and closer to you.

There’s not much you can do; your character never leaves the room, nor does he hold any weapon to defend himself with. There are two emergency entrances in the security room, a steel door to the left and one to the right, but you can’t keep the doors locked for too long otherwise you’ll run up the electric bill and cause a power shortage. You also have controls that allow you to turn on lights in the hallways just outside your security room; these blind spots are usually where the killer mascots try and hide before they jump for the kill, so it is best to check these every so often. The night shift begins at 12:00 AM and ends at 6:00 AM. If you run out of power, you die. If either mascot makes it into your office, you die. Will you survive your week’s employment at this place?


As mentioned above, Five Nights at Freddy’s is simple; all you do is constantly check the CCTV, turn on some small lights, and open or close your doors in order to prevent the pursuing animatronics from entering Schmidt’s office. But this stripped-down, first-person horror game delivers some brutally effective shocks and gradually conjures a haunting atmosphere of ever-escalating panic and despair. There have been plenty of games that have used video cameras much to the same effect, but there’s just something special to Scott Cawthon‘s take in this game.

As the game progresses, it becomes unbearably tense. The tension just builds and never lets up, not even for a second. It doesn’t take long before an immense feeling of paranoia begins to slowly creep up and all you can do is literally wait. And that is what makes this game a huge success: Five Nights at Freddy’s features some of the best jump scares of any other horror game or film to date, but it isn’t just a steady stream of jump scares. Freddy’s is a survival horror like no other. It has a different and unique way of bringing the thrills. You are completely immobile and defenseless, and so you can’t help but feel helpless in knowing something terrible can and will happen. Freddy’s is gripping, unsettling and truly horrific, and so much more than a gimmick as I initially feared. Even worse, the game is addictive because it’s so easy to play yet so hard to finish. It’s a heart-pounding trip through something that really shouldn’t work all that well.

As far as graphics goes, the visuals here won’t be winning any awards. Most of the locations are barely lit and there’s very little to look at, but the developer does make excellent use of some disturbing sound effects to show how our protagonist is overwhelmed by his cold, spacious workplace. The sound design, tricky jolts, and wonderfully distressing tension, coupled with the creepy character designs proves that despite limited resources, imagination can go a long way.

This is a cleverly engineered parasite that’ll crawl under your skin and feed on your nervous system if you dare play it.

Some people take my heart, others take my shoes, and some take me home. I write, I blog, I podcast, I edit, and I design websites. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Goomba Stomp and Tilt Magazine. Host of the NXpress Nintendo Podcast and the Sordid Cinema Podcast. Former Editor-In-Chief of Sound on Sight. Former host of several other podcasts including the Game of Thrones and Walking Dead shows, as well as Sound On Sight. There is nothing I like more than basketball, travelling, and animals. You can find me online writing about anime, TV, movies, games and so much more.