No theories, just facts.
While I do enjoy watching The Game Theorists theory videos on Five Nights at Freddy’s (you can watch their full playlist here), I feel like one of the hardest things keeping new people from entering the FNAF fandom is understanding the complex story behind Five Nights at Freddy’s. So, in this article, I’ve taken the liberty of stripping it all down to the core of the popular video game franchise. This can hopefully make it easier for fans to understand the game as a game on its own, and not the complex lore people like MattPat have spent years decoding.
What Is FNAF?
Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNAF) is a media franchise that started from an indie video game. Today, it includes seven games (for Windows, iOS, and Android) four spin-off games, three novels, a guidebook, an activity book, a horror attraction, and a film adaptation deal with Warner Bros. Pictures supposed to be released this year.
When most people talk about FNAF, though, they’re most likely talking about the main video games. The premise of the games is centered on the fictional restaurant chain, Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. In the first game, you play as a security guard named Mike Schmidt working the night shift, and you’re told that the animatronic characters (Freddy Fazbear and his friends Bonnie, Chica, and Foxy) roam around at night because their tech might get damaged if left off for overnight. You’re warned, however, that if these animatronics see a human after operating hours, it will assume that person is an endoskeleton without a costume and will stuff you into a spare costume, crushing and killing you in the process.
It seems simple enough, until you realize there’s more to the story. Throughout the nights, you see newspaper clippings and hear stories from the phone that reveal there was an incident where one of the animatronics bit off a victim’s frontal lobe. Another story tells of how five children were murdered in the back room of the restaurant and it’s implied that their bodies were stuffed inside the animatronic suits. And given that the animatronics become more and more aggressive trying to get to you in the security room, it’s implied that there’s something supernatural going on with those animatronics.
The first game was released in 2014 and was an overnight success in the horror video game genre. Gamers praised its simple but tense gameplay and it became one of the more popular games that came out. Its success launched the rest of the franchise and, six years later, expanded into the successful franchise it is today.
Who Created FNAF?
FNAF was created by Scott Cawthon, a video game designer, developer, and animator based in Houston, Texas. Prior to creating Five Nights at Freddy’s, Cawthon’s other works go back as far as the 1990s. He was a part of Hope Animation, where he created animations that teach children Christian values. He also created several games prior to FNAF.
One of the games he made, Chipper & Sons Lumber Co., was met with negative criticism because the main character was said to look like a “scary” and “terrifying” animatronic, making this family-friendly game unintentionally terrifying. Initially discouraged from making any more games, Cawthon later took that feedback and decided to create an even scarier game. This is what led him to create the first FNAF game.
When Was FNAF Made?
Cawthon first released Five Nights at Freddy’s to IndieDB, Desura, and Steam Greenlight between June to August 2014. The trailer was released June 2014 and a demo the month after/ Finally, on August 8, it was released for $4.99 on Steam. Since then, Cawthon has released six more games and four spin-off games in the last six years. In fact, Cawthon holds the Guinness World Record for the most number of sequels released in a year.
FNAF Games in Order
The seven main games and four spin-off games in the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise include:
- Five Nights at Freddy’s – released in 2014
- Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 – released in 2014
- Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 – released in 2015
- Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 – released in 2015
- FNaF World – released in 2016, spin-off
- Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location – released in 2016
- Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria Simulator – released in 2017
- Ultimate Custom Night – released in 2018, spin-off
- Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted – released in 2019
- Five Nights at Freddy’s AR: Special Delivery – released in 2019, spin-off
- Freddy in Space 2 – released in 2019, spin-off
Aside from these games, Cawthon has also confirmed two spin-offs and two main games to be released in the future. Luckily,
- Untitled FNAF 8 Game which will take place in a mall and focus on “glam-rock” animatronics – to be released in 2020
- Untitled FNAF 9 Game announced during the release of the non-VR version of Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted – TBA
- Five Nights at Freddy’s: Into Madness, a spin-off game similar to FNaF World – TBA
- Untitled multiplayer game – to be released in 2021
FNAF’s gameplay is usually you, a single character in the game, inside a room trying to block haunted animatronics from entering the room and killing you. You have to survive five nights of this, which gets more and more difficult with every passing day. This is the general idea for most of the main games, but has changed over time. This is the basic gameplay of Five Nights at Freddys, and uses two security doors and security cameras in different rooms in the building. However, the players only has a limited supply of electricity; if they use up all of the power before 6AM, the doors will remain open, allowing the animatronics to attack.
In Five Nights at Freddy’s 2, there are no doors to shield the player, but they have an empty Freddy Fazbear head which they must put on before an animatronic enters the room. However, this won’t fool all of the animatronics. Other animatronics require shining a flashlight on them, while others must be kept docile using a music box. The second game also introduces 8-bit minigames that explain some of the lore behind Five Nights at Freddy’s that caused the chain to become haunted.
In Five Nights at Freddy’s 3, you’re no longer a security guard in a restaurant, but at a horror attraction. And instead of multiple animatronics, you only have multiple animatronic hallucinations that appear when the ventilation, sounds, and camera systems are malfunctioning. You will also have access to the building’s vent system to prevent anyone from entering there. Your only real danger in this game is one animatronic called “Springtrap,” later revealed to carry the ghost of the man who killed the children whose souls that have haunted Freddy Fazbear’s pizza. The 8-bit games are still used to reveal lore, but these can only be accessed by doing certain secret tasks in the game. The only way to keep Springtrap away from you is to lure him into other rooms in the building using a pre-recorded child’s voice.
Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 takes place in a child’s bedroom. The player can now move around, but only to different parts of the room. Only equipped with a flashlight, you have to listen by the door for sound cues that suggest a nightmarish version of the animatronics are near. If they are, you must keep the door closed long enough; if they aren’t, you have to shine a flashlight outside your room. You also have to keep your Foxy plushy in the closet from turning into a nightmarish Foxy by keeping the door closed. Behind you, tiny Freddy-like monsters called Freddles need to be shone with a flashlight before there are enough Freddles to form a Nightmare Freddie. Throughout the game’s Easter eggs and cutscenes, it’s implied that you’re playing as the boy whose frontal lobe gets bitten.
In Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location, the gameplay is totally different as there are more game mechanics and tools used. The only time the game remotely resembles its predecessors is if you complete the secret ending of its 8-bit minigame and find the secret room somewhere in the game’s map. Sister Location uses bits of the lore in FNAF’s books, and it’s revealed that Baby is possessed by the daughter of the man who killed the original children. However, the real enemy in the game is a broken animatronic called Ennard who
In Freddy’s Pizzeria Simulator, it’s a mix of a tycoon business-style gameplay and the original game mechanics. While performing office duties, you’ll have to be aware of any animatronics attempting to climb the vents to get to your office. If you follow the game’s instructions, this will get harder for every day that passes. However, you can choose to ignore the game’s instruction to bring in any animatronic you find outside your restaurant, and it’s possible to play all five days without having any animatronic in the vent.
This is just scratching the surface of the FNAF lore, so I recommend watching The Game Theorists’ videos to understand why it’s a very complex story. And who knew all of this would develop from a simple indie game?