FNaF Headed to the Big Leagues
Sony’s State of Play February 2021 show saw the official announcement of the long-anticipated tenth game in the Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNaF) series, entitled Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach. The game is being developed by Steel Wool Studios, the team behind two other virtual reality games based on the FNaF universe: Freddy's VR: Help Wanted, and The Curse of Dreadbear.
Five Nights at Freddy’s is a cult classic with a devoted following. The franchise already includes 9 games, 16 books, and a reported movie deal in the works. But Security Breach will be the first FNaF game to be produced and promoted at the top-tier AAA level - the equivalent of a Hollywood major studio release.
This new top-tier release means big things for the franchise, with a lot of potential to affright and delight its loyal fans.
Five Nights at Freddy's: What Exactly Is It?
Five Nights at Freddy’s is a horror game published by Scott Cawthon in 2014. You play a night-shift security guard at a children’s restaurant. The restaurant, Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, is modelled on franchises such as Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre, with its animatronic animal mascots.
The mascots roam the restaurant at night, and if they reach you, the game is over. Every night your goal is to survive until the end of your shift at 6 AM, and you complete the game by surviving five nights in a row.
Five Nights at Freddy’s is a horror game published by Scott Cawthon in 2014.
The gameplay and graphics are simple but eerie and immersive. You remain in a single room. Your actions are limited to watching the cameras, turning on the lights outside your room, and shutting the doors. All these actions drain your limited power supply. The trick - easy to grasp, but difficult to master - is to use your power judiciously, while constantly keeping track of the mascots’ movement so that you can react in time.
The animatronic creatures are almost never shown actually moving. The game passes in an increasingly tense stillness as the mascots move while you aren’t looking, drawing closer and closer, but you never see them move until it’s too late. When you lose, it’s with a rousing jump-scare that startles you no matter how much you’re expecting it.
When you lose, it’s with a rousing jump-scare that startles you no matter how much you’re expecting it.
Later games in the franchise have largely stuck to this formula, making only modest refinements - until now.
A Sleeper Hit that Makes You Never Want to Close Your Eyes
FNaF is a classic success story in independent video games - a relatively small, simple game with evocative animation and a compelling hook, which captured the attention of gamers worldwide and developed a devoted cult following.
A large part of the series’ success is due to its popularity with game streamers on YouTube and Twitch. The FNaF games proved well suited to streaming thanks to their episodic nature and visual drama. Seeing a streamer’s lively reaction to a jump scare makes for an entertaining show. The most popular of these videos are still drawing daily views, likes, and comments 7 years later.
A large part of the series’ success is due to its popularity with game streamers on YouTube and Twitch.
As fans became devoted to the game, they began to spin theories from the series’ loose ends. Why do you hear children laughing in the middle of the night? Is Freddy’s haunted? Are the mascots actually animated by the ghosts of murdered children?!
Cawthon has capitalized on this speculation, working to build the game’s popularity by creating the impression of a deep universe full of hidden lore which is often hinted at, but rarely fully revealed. The games are full of hints, riddles, and Easter eggs. Cawthon adds to the body of mystery with his lively but often cryptic online presence.
Introducing Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach
The trailer for Security Breach takes care to build excitement without spoiling any surprises. It gives viewers a fairly good idea of what to expect, both in terms of what will change and of what will be retained.
The trailer immediately establishes a contrast with the series’ history by showcasing movement. Instead of remaining in a single room, the viewpoint character appears to be fleeing through a fancy shopping mall. The claustrophobic feeling of being trapped is replaced by a different flavour of terror - that of being pursued. The silence is filled with a menacing voice - feminine, saccharine, artificial. Its counterpart is the terrified sobbing of a child - apparently the “Gregory” whom the sinister voice is addressing. The animatronic creatures glimpsed from the corner of the eye have traded their ominous stillness for ominously slow motion.
The trailer immediately establishes a contrast with the series’ history by showcasing movement.
But much remains familiar. Freddy and certain of his companions are recognizable. You have an ally who is heard but not seen. The clip ends with a classic jump-scare, differing from the first game’s mainly in being colorized.
What Going from Indie to AAA Means for the Franchise
The Five Nights at Freddy's games became famous by making the most of their low-budget limitations. The single-room setting and the limited sound and animation help to create a claustrophobic tension and building suspense.
The single-room setting and the limited sound and animation help to create a claustrophobic tension and building suspense.
The AAA release means playing in a whole different league. Players will expect a lot more in the quality of the graphics, gameplay, and voice acting. At the same time, the established fans want the series to retain its distinctive character and atmosphere. Balancing these demands will be a tricky challenge for the studio.
There are good reasons to expect that Security Breach will seal FNaF’s success in the big leagues. This is a franchise that has been satisfying its devoted fanbase for 7 years, and Cawthon isn’t going it alone. Steel Wool Studios is providing a team of seasoned industry veterans who ought to be able to provide the game with all the requisite polish.
If you’re a fan of horror games, then this game is probably already on your wish list. If it’s not there yet, then it might be worth checking out. Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach is scheduled for release some time in 2021.