The final chapter of the Freddy Fazbear horror saga dropped last night -- and I've spent hours playing and reading about the game. Here's everything I've found out about the game so far, from the new mechanics, the disturbing story, and the juicy secrets hiding within.
As you might already know, FNAF 4 puts you in the role of a child who must survive the terrors lurking inside of a house every night.
After you boot the game, you are greeted with this screen:
Afterward, instead of having phone guy show you the ropes, you are instead treated to a short scene featuring everyone's favourite nightmare bear:
Afterward, the game gives you control -- and you see that you are a crying boy who is apparently locked in a room with a bunch of Freddy Fazbear plushies:
You seem fond of them:
Still, you ARE trapped inside this room, so you're not exactly happy about the situation:
You soothe yourself the only way you can...
At this point, it's not entirely clear who you are or what your situation is -- but the entire thing still feels disturbing. Where other FNAF games ease you into the idea that something horrifying is going on, FNAF4 dives right into into it. And really, by this point, why shouldn't it? We all know the history of Freddy Fazbear, convoluted as the timeline might be. Of course there's something frightening going on here.
The New Mechanics
After this scene, you are transported to the room where the 'real' game begins:
As always, it starts you off at 12am. Unlike previous games, you're not standing in some sort of office. This is a bedroom! There is, however, still a fan in the room...because of course there is.
You have the option to explore a closet space in front of you:
And you can also check the space behind you -- which lends the game an added sense of urgency. Who knows what could be creeping beyond your vision?
Initially, it's just a bear -- and you can even click on it to honk its nose. But as you go further into the night, things will haunt your bedside. It's a great addition that heightens the scariness factor.
Mechanically, one of the biggest differences in Five Nights at Freddy's 4 is that you are not static, sitting in one place. You can actually run up to the doors on your side, like so:
Once up there, the game tells you to listen for breathing. If you hear breathing, you have to hold the door shut. If you don't, you can use your flashlight to peer down the hall. This, too, feels like a great change for the series: the moment of tension between staring into the darkness, listening for sounds, and deciding to shine a light is delicious. Sometimes, I can't help but pause for a second or two: do I actually want to see what's waiting for me up ahead? Did I hear something? The entire thing brings me back to when I was a kid and the scariest thing in the world was mustering up the courage to walk down a hallway to go to the bathroom at night. I often couldn't do it. But in FNAF4, the only way to forge forward is to tackle that fear head on.
There's also something innately scary about being trapped inside a house. Domesticity is supposed to be a haven, but at night time? All bets are off. Few things can inspire goosebumps like wading through otherwise innocuous spaces, like a kid's playroom.
It's damn hard
Confession: try as I might, I can't make much progress in FNAF4. Typically, the first night in any FNAF game is a breeze ; night 1 is when you learn how things work. Not in FNAF4. You can expect to die multiple times at the start of the game as you grok what the hell is going on. I've seen this be the case for big YouTubers, and friends I've spoken to agree: the game is more difficult now.
In a way, it feels cheap. Dying happens because you don't know how to play, not because of some grand, well-constructed mystery, or because of a gameplay miscalculation. People joke about FNAF being the sort of game they play for a few minutes and then stop -- and this is that the previous games are way more encouraging at the earlier stages. I wouldn't be surprised if many people never get past the initial FNAF night here, and that's kind of bonkers.
It has some issues
I love being surprised by a sudden release. But after spending time with the game, I feel like the developer, Scott Cawthon, kind of rushed things. Seconds into launching the game for the first time, I experienced some freezing issues. They were slight, and often disappeared after a handful of seconds, but still. Nearly every game I've run since then has had this happen at least once, and I've played the game over a dozen times now. I may be alone in this issue, as I haven't seen many people mention it online, but since this is what I experienced, I had to share.
The thing that most people seem to be hung up on, however, is the sound. The game tells you to listen for 'breathing,' but try as I might, I can't hear a damn thing while I play. I don't know what the breathing sounds like, which makes it difficult to play intelligently. How am I supposed to stop the animatronics if I can't hear them? It's no wonder I can't make good progress.
Cawthon has addressed this issue on the Steam forums:
Hi guys, there has been some confusion about how the breathing mechanic works, and I wanted to clarify. When you first open a door, listen for at least 3 or 4 seconds before deciding whether to close the door or use the light. If you close the door with an animatronic at the far end of the hall, they will get closer and jumpscare you when you open it and turn on the light.
This game can't be played as fast as previous games, and taking time to listen for the breathing before closing the door is crucial, as closing it too soon will bring something bad to your door!
NOTE: I'm uploading an update right now that does increase the volume of the breathing, as well as hopefully fixing the fullscreen issues for most people. This won't fix everything for everyone, there are just too many computer setups and configurations to account for. I will continue to try to improve it however.
He says it's a matter of trying to play the game too fast, but I'm not convinced. Hopefully the update fixes this issue, though.
The Bigger Mystery
It wouldn't be a Five Nights at Freddy's game without some elaborate conspiracy-like story to go along with it. On this front, FNAF4 delivers.
Most of these juicy morsels are delivered between the nights, in mini-games. You can view all of them here, courtesy of Adam Sklar:
SPOILERS FOLLOW: The mini-games paint a better picture of what is going on, but it's still vague. You seem to be related to someone who works at Freddy Fazbear's pizzeria, so you're around the animatronics all the time. Your family life is a mess, and you seem to be subject to abuse -- either from your father, or your brother. Your mother is nowhere in sight. The game refers to a "he" constantly, who apparently subjects you to all sorts of horrors -- but I have no idea who this person is.
The game seems to imply that you've seen something horrible, too -- you know what the animatronics are capable of, which is why you're so scared of them. Nobody believes you though, and all of your friends tease you over your fear of the animatronics. It's entirely possible that you're not scared of the animals themselves, but rather, what the humans do with them. The real 'monsters' are the humans, who choose to lock you up in the rooms with the animatronics. FNAF4 is really sad!
Things come to a head on the final night, when the party happens. Your brother's arsehole friends push you too far, and then this happens:
Yeaaaah. It's tragic. While FNAF4 makes the timeline confusing, I think it might have the best story out of all of the games so far.
Is this the bite of 87? It sure seems like it, but there is some debate online as to whether that's actually the case.
Here is where things get particularly wacky: people are interpreting the final scene to mean that the entire game is actually a dream that you are having in a coma. Everything in the house isn't real, posits this theory. I know, that sounds ridiculous, but there is evidence to support it. Namely, every so often you'll see curious items by your bedside -- like an IV drip:
Other players have reported similarly curious items near your bed. I'm convinced.
Aside from that, the biggest mystery the game holds is in this screenshot:
Are those...actual photographs of Scott Cawthon and his family? The internet seems to think so. This would put the grand total of publicly available but shitty photographs of Scott Cawthon on the internet up to three whole pictures.
Watch Others Play It
I wouldn't blame you for opting to watch the game instead of playing it yourself. Luckily, YouTube has plenty of options. The most-watched video by far is Markiplier's, though, which I'm embedding below. Feel free to share playthroughs of your favourite YouTubers!