Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 is currently out on PC and Android, and by the time I draw my next breath, it’ll probably be out on iOS too. This makes four games in less than a year, a figure that has the series’ critics scoffing.
I’ve already gone into detail about why I like the Five Nights at Freddy’s series, and I maintain my position even though FNAF 4 plays much like the previous games (albeit with a focus on isolating audio cues instead of visual feeds to keep yourself safe from Satan’s own Teddy Ruxpin). But if I haven’t made my main argument for the series clear, here it is again: It’s the little things that make the FNAF games worth remembering.
That includes FNAF 4 in spades, since the game uses a child protagonist to touch on the lasting damage caused by childhood fears – and by emotional abuse.
“Hey, wait! That’s not scary – that’s sad.”
It is! Actually, when you read between the lines, FNAF 4 is an exceptionally sad game. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise: As I’ve said in the past, the series is more than a collection of cheesy jump scares.
Hey, kids! Here come some Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 spoilers! Follow the nice man dressed in purple if you want to keep reading oh wait no don’t follow the man in purple, that’s a terrible idea.
The Atari-style minigames, which were Easter eggs in the second game, anchor FNAF 4’s narrative. The protagonist of the minigames, and of the game proper, is a boy who’s in perpetual tears. His only friends are his Freddy Fazbear toys, including a Foxy doll that’s headless for reasons that quickly become clear.
Despite his Fazbear toy collection, the boy has a deep-rooted fear of the animatronics that entertain at the neighbourhood’s party joint, Fredbear’s Diner. His phobia is nursed by his brother, who repeatedly drags him to the establishment and locks him in the parts and repair room for kicks. Said brother also hides around the house and jumps out of hiding to scare the boy while wearing a Foxy mask – which explains the mutilated toy in the boy’s room.
One day the teasing goes too far, and an animatronic snacks on the boy’s head, putting him into a coma. In fact, there are indications that FNAF 4’s gameplay takes place in the boy’s head while he “sleeps.”
That’s a thing all right, but it’s the relentless emotional torture inflicted on the boy that made me go “oof” when I played FNAF 4. I grew up amongst brothers as a middle child, which probably explains most of my neuroses, but things were generally OK between us all. At any rate, nobody ever ripped apart my favourite toys in an attempt to scare me.
That’s just me, though. Doubtless there are many folks who grew up in the shadow of a sibling who broke their shit, locked them up in dark spaces, laughed at their fears, and physically hurt them – accidentally or purposefully. And maybe there was an apology, like the one the boy’s brother issues while his sibling lies comatose at the end of FNAF 4. Not that it does any good. What’s done is done.
So there you go. FNAF 4. It’s about a boy whose brother tortured him until he became an ever-trembling shell whose only friends were stuffed dolls. Then he lapsed into a coma after his brother played too rough, where he’s forced to defend himself against his worst nightmares forever ‘n ever. It’s the feel good story of the decade!
Worse, one of the boy’s dolls, the infamous Golden Freddy, isn’t particularly nice, even though he claims he’s a friend. Golden Freddy follows the boy everywhere he goes, usually while hiding himself. At one point, Golden Freddy hides in a sewer. Excepting Ninja Turtles, nothing good hides in a sewer.
This game gives you no indication that anything is OK with this poor kid’s brain.
When the first FNAF game made mention of the Bite of ’87, fans figured it involved some asshole kid who kept poking at Foxy. Then people guessed the victim was the security guard from the second game, who is sent to watch over one last, fateful birthday party. But until FNAF 4, we never got any confirmation about the nature of the bite victim, nor did we even consider they might’ve been The Saddest Child in the World.
Dammit, Scott Cawthon.
Of course, there are hints that FNAF 4 takes place in ’83, not ’87, so the events depicted in the game may not even be the bite.
Dammit, Scott Cawthon.
The man may be terrible at finishing what he started, but heck it, he’s pretty talented at interjecting emotion and atmosphere into his work.
[Screenshots from PrettyGrumpyBear]