Hard to imagine that one little point-and-click horror game released in 2014 grew to become one of the biggest multimedia gaming names out there. What started as a point and click survival horror expanded into a series of thirteen (including spin-off) games, novels and a host of merchandise. All of which came from the mind of one indie game developer Scott Cawthon. Now, I’m not going to go into the history of the Five Night’s at Freddy’s history, nor will I try to even explain the franchise’s lore and story. I fear no amount of wordcount could get across the sheer complexity of this strangely endearing series.
Instead, what I’ll be taking a look at is the latest – and certainly not last – addition to the FNAF franchise: FNAF Security Breach.
A Return to the Franchise
The last FNAF game I played prior to this one was the third, Five Night’s at Freddy’s 3. After that, the formula started to grow stale. I would watch some of my favourite YouTubers play the fourth game and after that, I’d pretty much lost all interest in the game. It wasn’t until Security Breach’s trailer was released that I remembered the franchise. In fact, in anticipation for the game’s release I wanted to remind myself about the complex background story to the FNAF games. I took a tentative step towards the FNAF community, only to slip and fall right down the rabbit hole.
There I was, back to my teenage FNAF-obsessed years. Suddenly, I was watching the Security Breach trailer at 0.25 speed, pausing to try and spot something secret. I was looking for anything new, questioning the return of old voices, characters or sights. Despite the six year gap, I was just as enamoured and entranced by this franchise as I was all those years ago. All I had to do now was wait, until the game’s release.
Needless to say, I was excited. I had reacquainted myself with the lore and caught up on what I’d missed. I was eager to get back into it and unravel the next mystery.
A Take on the Classic Formula
The moment you start the game, you realise just how different this game is from all the previous instalments. No longer is it just a point-and-click game where you’re locked in one position. Instead, you step into the Fazbear-shoe wearing Gregory, a young child who seems to be locked in the Freddy Fazbear Mega Pizza Plex overnight. The goal? Survive until 6:00AM, just like all the previous games. A simple premise, but with this new format, being able to explore means a new way to tell the FNAF story.
We quickly meet our antagonists, the other animatronics and Vanessa, the security guard. Our only ally? Freddy himself, a welcome change from the previous games. At the start of the game, we see Freddy enter Safe Mode. Something which later leads him to becoming our ally, because he’s not able to be corrupted by an exterior force. In fact, this version of Freddy is the one and only time we see an animatronic behaving as it should in the entire franchise.
A genuinely lovely and caring child-focused creation. He supports and encourages us every step of the way, and it quickly becomes evident why the Fazbear name is as beloved as it is within this fictional world. Because if all the animatronics are the way that Freddy are, then it’s no surprise children and parents adore them. That is until something particularly evil takes advantage of them… Turning them into deadly monsters.
The Missing Piece
This very simple and seemingly unimportant detail only adds to the worldbuilding. If we’re to believe that the Fazbear name is associated with child murder, then how are we expected for this company to grow as big as it does? Well, that’s where Security Breach comes in.
In every other iteration of the game, we’ve only seen the worst parts of the game. We’ve seen the rundown and slightly decrepit looking diners, and we all ended up asking the same question: ‘Why would people keep coming back here?’
And yet, whilst playing Security Breach, I often found myself wanting to see the Pizza Plex for myself or wanting to visit a similar kind of place. It added a new layer to the overall story, one that gave the story all the more credence. This version of Fazbear Entertainment, the ones who own the Pizza Plex, now there’s a company I absolutely believe would try and cover up child murders and disappearances.
The Security Levels
Throughout the game, you’ll reach these milestones where you upgrade your Security Badge. Granting access to more of the game. But for all these little milestones comes a special mini-game. One that takes a different spin on the classic FNAF playstyle. Closing doors, keeping the animatronics out resource management. I always looked forward to these levels because I was always excited to see how they would spin the old formula.
Now here we get onto the part where it became more and more evident that the game wasn’t finished. Apart from the many bugs and glitches present at launch (which will hopefully have been smoothed out by now), there were a lot of elements of the game that showed that it wasn’t fully finished.
Despite the huge map and the detail of the Pizza Plex, there’s a very obvious lack of things to do. Considering the nature of the Pizza Plex, and the fact that we’re playing a child, there’s not much that takes advantage of our location. By all means, the game could take place in a warehouse. Going from room to room, picking up the pieces on the way… Nothing is gained, nor lost. That should show just how underutilized the Pizza Plex itself is.
The only places where we get to experience the Pizza Plex are during either Roxanne, Chica and Monty’s mini-boss level. Where, for a brief moment, we get to play a fun diegetic mini-game. Whether it’s laser tag, mini golf or a pizza-maker, these games give us an idea of what the Pizza Plex is like during opening hours.
Not to mention, it adds another layer of depth to the overall experience. You get to really feel like a kid, one who – despite being hunted by killer animatronics – for a moment, gets to just feel like a kid. In fact, it’s these moments that I enjoyed the most. The ones that blended the fun of the Pizza Plex with the terror of being hunted down.
It’s all a little too serious
I mean, come on, this is a franchise about Chucky Cheese lookalikes being stuffed by the corpses of children killed by an animatronic-engineer. There’s a certain level of seriousness you abandon in this kind of a story. In fact, it’s the reason why everyone loves FNAF in the first place.
The perfect blend of cute and terrifying, it’s right in the Uncanny. Granted, Scott Cawthon was one man, one man who made very simple games. However, Security Breach had a whole team of developers creating the game. And yet, it still somehow felt as though the game was made by one or two people.
I have to give credit to the artists of the game, that is one of the parts of the game which exceeds all others. The designs of the animatronics, the Pizza Plex itself, let’s just say that without the talented artists, this game would not have sold as well as it did.
Roxanne, Monty, Chica and Vanny
Here are both the saving graces and somehow the worst parts of the game. The enemy antagonists… The animatronics, Roxanne, Monty and Chica all look and sound fantastic. They fit in the world and look the part, and upon their defeat, they look a whole lot more like the normal broken and scary-looking FNAF animatronics.
Again, the design and artwork is phenomenal. It’s hard to make something intended for children also come across as terrifying. The scale can lean too much on either way, but these animatronics look the part.
When we first see them, they’re spooky but only because we know that if we’re caught by them, we’re dead. And yet, were they as lovely and supportive as Freddy, we wouldn’t be afraid. Only after their individual boss-fights do they become genuinely unsettling and quite scary.
A Word on the Boss-Fights
Each boss fight is special to each boss, right? Then why can all of these bosses be interchangeable. Hear me out now, we’re urged to take a piece of each animatronic to give to Freddy. Roxanne’s eyes, Monty’s claws and Chica’s voice box. Each of these items makes them special, it’s what distinguishes them from each other. And yet, we never really get to see this in-game.
We’re told Roxy can see through walls, but this never really shows up. We can hide from her just like all the other animatronics. Monty’s claws can break anything, but that doesn’t affect our gameplay with him. And Chica can use her voice to tamper with the other bots. Despite all of this, we never see these individual abilities being utilised in any way.
Better Boss Fights
Now imagine this instead:
- Roxanne can see through walls, she always knows where you are. You can’t hide from her, but maybe she’s slower? You can outrun her. This would make her levels all the more scary, you wouldn’t be able to hide from her, you’d have to be a lot more active and focused. She would feel special, and she’d stand out from the others because you’d never feel safe. This would also make her next phase, where she loses her eyes, stand out more. She’d become quicker, she’d lunge at you the same way she does, but now from desperation. She saw you before, she always knew where you were, now she’s afraid and lashing out.
- Monty’s claws can break through anything, right? Well what if he just breaks through obstacles you’re swerving around to outrun him. He breaks down doors, and always catches up to you because you can’t outmanoeuvre him. Your best bet is to hide, and even then… If he finds you, he might break down your hiding spot, meaning you can’t just go back to it. Again, this adds a degree of urgency to the game. Rather than getting spooked, sitting in a hiding spot for five minutes before trying again.
- Chica’s voice box shows up the least in game. Her special voice box doesn’t do anything special at all, despite us being led to believe it can? Now what if Chica was the only one who could summon the other two animatronics? If she spots you, she can call out to the other two… Now suddenly, Chica is the biggest threat. She’s the one you need to be careful about and do your best to make sure she doesn’t spot you even once, meaning her levels would be a lot more stealth focused.
I think this was probably the intention. Because one boss level that really stands out? DJ Music Man. The level featuring DJ Music Man was memorable as well as absolutely terrifying and it’s one of the few mini bosses that can’t be interchanged. DJ Music Man is iconic to that level, and binds it together. The music that plays directly from the DJ Arachnid, trying to outrun him, as well as hide from Chica and Monty leads this entire level to being one of the game’s best.
A Deflated End
When it comes to the end of the game, that’s where it all falls apart. The various endings you can get, there’s no build up. And even then, there’s no real final boss-fight. Regardless of which ending you got, everyone silently agreed that the endings were disappointing and underwhelming. Especially for a FNAF game…
The secret ending which involves facing off against Burntrap had us all on the edge of our seats for the first 10 seconds. Then we realise it’s just another press-buttons to win end. Just like the other boss-fights. Place Roxy, Monty or Chica in Burntrap’s position and nothing changes.
And this was, sadly, because the game was unfinished.
These are the parts of the game where it becomes clear that the developers didn’t have enough time to finish it. The game is very clearly unfinished, something that’s quite sad considering just how ambitious the creators were. The game’s setting is fantastic, the animatronics are all great and the potential was there. There were many levels I enjoyed and I still loved scouring every little room for any form of secret Easter Egg.
Despite all its flaws, I was still eager to play more. I would be excited to go back home and play more, and I finished the overall game. I was highly invested in some levels, bored out of my mind or frustrated at others.
However… Here’s the thing. All of the main faults of the game? They can be fixed. All the bugs and glitches can be fixed in updates and who knows? Maybe they’ll add more content to the game as they go on. Hence my score, a very average 3/5. I wouldn’t go ahead and recommend it in its current state, but if these issues can be fixed, then I would absolutely consider re-evaluating my score!