Welcome back to The Backlog, where we review spooky games for October. Today’s edition is the last of the month, and we are continuing our review of several “Five Nights at Freddy’s” games. Last week, we looked at the original series from the first to fourth games, and now we will dive into some of the most notable games that came since. I will not be going into detail about every single game in the franchise, but the ones I feel are the most central to the story.
Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location
“Sister Location” is the fifth main installment of the series but the sixth game overall. It continues the point-and-click style of gameplay but does involve the player moving around quite a bit. Unlike the previous games, it’s incredibly story-driven and opens up the lore beyond just a haunted pizzeria. You play as a technician for a company that rents out animatronics for private parties instead of hosting them like before. While it marks the beginning of the franchise becoming more than just a set of indie games, the mechanics and scares are not as impressive as previous iterations. It does have its memorable moments of sneaking through Funtime Auditorium and avoiding Funtime Foxy. Having to listen carefully for Ballora’s melody in Ballora Gallery is another moment where Scott Cawthon utilizes his signature sound design skills perfectly. Yet, “Sister Location” is the type of installment meant for longtime fans who want to decipher everything about the story and where each game falls in it. Beyond that, “Sister Location” is only memorable for the amount of teasers leading up to its release. However, I do have to admit that the fact that the final night brought back the familiar playstyle of the previous “Five Nights at Freddy’s” games was a nostalgic and pleasant surprise. Not to mention the sheer amount of remixes made due to Andy Field’s voice stating “exotic butters.”
Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria Simulator
The sixth installment of the franchise opens as an 8-bit style minigame, where you play as Freddy Fazbear and must deliver pizza to crying children. While it seems innocent on the surface, it quickly turns into the horror genre we know and love by having a black version of your character’s sprite blocking the player until it glitches. That is when the actual game begins as a, quite literal, pizzeria simulator. Players are put in charge of their own Freddy Fazbear’s franchise, similar to other chain restaurants. “Pizzeria Simulator” is full of funny moments, but both build off the story introduced by “Sister Location” and wrap it up. Fields is brought back as a voice giving the player instructions and narrates the various endings that you can find. Yet, Dave Steele’s role as the man in the cassette tapes is vital to the story, revealing that the pizzeria was a trap in order to lure a murderer to his final resting place. This game is huge compared to the others. There are hours of content that players can comb through to find the answers to questions they’ve been asking since the first game. This can understandably take away from the actual gameplay, where you have to survive each night. The survival mechanics take a backseat to the sheer amount of minigames that can be played.
Ultimate Custom Night
Originally, gamers believed that “Ultimate Custom Night” would just be similar to the 20/20 mode features from the previous games, but on steroids. 20/20 mode is a feature in the main games where the animatronics’ difficulty level is set to max, making it the hardest challenge in each game. It definitely is far more challenging than any of its predecessors, but it concludes the main storyline of the franchise. I’d argue that 50/20 mode is one of the hardest levels to beat in all of gaming history, but it has been done. The ways in which the story is shown are clever. Players must beat a certain score or preset challenges to find snippets of the story — not to mention the vast amount of voice lines in the game, mostly when players are killed by certain animatronics. Each tiny bit of lore revealed connects to things that players have been theorizing about for ages; it’s a clever and creative way to help them along and finally end the saga. A problem that people can face with this installment is that not all of us are skilled enough to find every secret. More than once, I’ve found myself watching people on YouTube in order to see all the cutscenes or easter eggs. Of course, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” has a longstanding relationship with gaming YouTubers, so it’s not too much of an issue.
Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted
“Help Wanted” is the first time that another developer was involved in the creation of one of these games. Steel Wool Studios was essential for bringing the series out of the complex lore that gamers have struggled to piece together. While it is a virtual reality game, it can be played without a VR headset. The VR aspect is incorporated into the story of the game; it poses itself as a virtual experience created by the in-game company, Fazbear Entertainment. It tries to undo the bad reputation of missing children and mysterious fires showcased in the previous games by building off of it and turning it into an attraction. Yet, it takes a dark turn when it becomes clear that there is a malevolent being inside the game with us. Once again, there are secrets and easter eggs littered throughout the game in the form of cassette tapes. These tapes reveal that when developing the game, some old hardware used may have had something lurking in it — not to mention the fact that a previous playtester named Jeremy became influenced by the entity in the game and cut his own face off with a paper slicer. Just when players thought that the franchise lost its horror aspect, they were proven wrong.
Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach
I cannot even begin to describe the dumpster fire that was “Security Breach.” Its release had been hinted at for quite a while and had been delayed constantly. It was finally released towards the end of 2021 when it was originally supposed to be released in 2020. Usually, when a game is delayed, it signals to players that the end result would be polished and worth the wait. This was not the case. “Security Breach” was full of bugs and crashed often. The style was still simplistic, with it being a first-person survival horror. But there is no denying that the product looks shoddy with uncreative models. Understandably, the animatronics in this game would look like robots, but even the human characters look like something out of the “My Sims” games. Usually, “FNAF” games are known for having secrets and lore buried in clever minigames or are shown when progressing the story. “Security Breach” failed this immensely with its confusing endings. Each ending is shown as a comic book strip. A YouTuber who summarized my thoughts when seeing the endings was Markiplier, who genuinely asked, “Did they run out of budget?” The gameplay was a failure as well, but this was mostly due to the buggy nature of the game and the fact that it didn’t direct players like before. It tried to embrace the free-roam aspect but instead led players to encounter more bugs or do things out of order.