It was only a year ago, when a game featuring creepy animatronics, jump scares and a lore so twisted and confusing had captivated gamers across the world and united them into one fan base. These fans would collectively search every single piece of HTML and brighten a teaser image in an attempt to uncover the truth behind a timeline of events that I still think nobody yet understands.
And now, after a short journey of sequels and further exploration into the main story behind the “Bite Of ’87”, we have arrived at our final stop, Five Nights At Freddy’s 4: The Final Chapter.
The Nightmare Begins
FNAF 4 is a departure from the previous installments of security guards waiting for their doom. Instead it takes place in a suburban home, yet still retains structure from the original. In a successful attempt to scare you even more, the game requires that you crank up the audio so that you are able to listen clearly to a field of crickets. Although a PC is available, a tablet with a good pair of headphones will do justice in what it is set out to do, scare you.
This serves as a test for the main event that lurks beyond the title screen, let alone the calm before the storm. Audio in games has always been important to me when immersion is concerned. The use of audio as a staple game mechanic however is an undeniably clever idea given the genre of the game itself and the power it wields over the player’s imagination.
There are no guards to be found here. This time you assume role of an unnamed child who many believe to be the victim of The Bite Of ’87. As subtle suggestions of your hospitalization appear at your bedside between fending of the biggest nasties that developer Scott Cawthon has cooked up yet. Armed only with a flashlight and every direction to monitor, the new layout induces instant tension and panic that works so well with the child’s dark bedroom, which will most likely play with some of our own infant memories.
I’ll Huff, Puff & Give You A Sleepless Night
Your senses are going to be the saviors for the terror that awaits. Without any cameras or other distractions, the situation looks pretty dire however, the audio cue mechanic is here to help (or hinder?) with instructions clearly displayed on screen. You must first wait and listen for the sound of breathing before opening the door. If there is indeed the sound of demonic exhaling then it’s a pretty good idea to hold that door shut until it goes away, otherwise it “should” be safe to summon up the courage to flash your light down the hallway to scare off anything that may be creeping your way.
Each animatronic has their own unique breathing audio as well as footsteps which will circle around you causing further panic, confusion and most likely, a jump scare. The doors are just the beginning of covering your parameter. You will need to keep a close eye on the closet up front for the likes of Foxxy and Nightmare Fredbear, which is the only section where you can get away with illuminating their torn up faces before closing the door a split second afterwards. In fact, this tactic coupled with the audio cues is an absolute must for pinpointing the animatronics location and securing potential survival.
These moments offer the familiar strategic throwback to the very first game of switching lights, closing doors, and repeat. Yet the lack of vulnerability that comes with being able to look behind you that was absent from the previous games is where I got caught out the most. Behind you, a plush toy version of Freddy resides on your bed, now and again multiple demonic versions will appear and a heavy dose of light is needed to be rid of them for a few more minutes. Reckless abandon here will cost you if the doors have not been checked and you will soon find out like I did how that ends.
Unfortunately, this is where mobile players miss out. There are NO story related mini-games aside from the “Night 6” game and “Fun with Plushtrap” segment where you can gain a two hour head start by stopping Plushtrap in his tracks with your flashlight. The FNAF wiki claims that the mini-games are absent due to memory capacity issues. Either way it takes away that sense of reward after completing the hellish night beforehand. Personally I found the 8-bit story segments to be incredibly powerful, atmospheric and chilling and their absence leaves an empty space in the full package’s exterior.
Time To Die
More often than not, you are going to die. The community has been very vocal on the higher level of difficulty for FNAF 4 ensuring plenty of frustration lies ahead. I managed to survive until night 4 where all animatronics are active and I still get caught by Freddy Fazbear himself. Nevertheless, it’s still extremely difficult and this could be the main point that will drive players away from seeing the game through when the timer hits 5AM and you are instantly killed afterwards.
The killings found in the mobile version are not on par with those found within the PC version. The animatronics are rendered as a series of frames instead of smooth animations still. It will give you quite a fright, just not on the level you may want or hope for. At times I felt the interface of the game was rather cluttered with the many items and places you must tap to perform actions. This could spell disaster for players on smaller phone screens and tablets but could also be a cunning move to induce even more panic by offering up too many buttons to press to save your skin.
Despite these small issues the most noticeable difference while playing the game was the introduction of actual movement made by the player character. Previously we have been a static entity, now we find ourselves in a living, breathing environment with danger pretty much everywhere. Another overlooked factor is the running animations which fill your eyes and ears with rustling feet and dark woven carpet before approaching the door. It’s one huge elaborate trick of the mind and it works in harmony with the other mechanics.
It’s been a frightful and interesting journey following the games. The countless reactions from the community, there are still many questions left to be answered. Whether Scott will honrr these requests with the upcoming Halloween DLC is yet to be known. Perhaps the movie adaption will lay everything out on the table and put it into perspective, then again that isn’t feel like Mr Cawthon’s style. People love to hunt for secrets left by him, and he loves crafting the teasers.
Overall, I believe FNAF4 harbors some of the most terrifying character design Scott has put together, the animatronics aesthetics are truly unsettling and the thought of being jump sacred by one of them motivates you into concentrating harder. The ability to move around in the environment is also a major plus and allows paranoia to take hold over your movements and whether you “should look behind you”.
Aside from the issues mentioned above and some slow frame rates, I am confident that FNAF4 sits at the top with the first game in delivering a fantastic experience both as a game and a medium for storytelling. The spread across multiple platforms and obtaining the community the game has, the lore will continue to develop and live on for many years through to new fans of the series.