What’s your favorite FNAF game?
With all due respect…
Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 sucks so much,
it’s literally the reason FNAF Plus exists.
Seriously – were it not for some of
FNAF 2’s horrendous gameplay decisions,
the highly-anticipated remake
of FNAF 1 might not even exist.
There has been a lot of talk lately
about Sister Location and how it’s the
worst Five Nights at Freddy’s
That’s a fair assessment;
it’s a major departure from all of the others,
and the actual night-to-night gameplay…
Yeah definitely, it sucks; it’s awful.
I’d rather play Security Breach!
However, Sister Location’s traditional
FNAF gameplay (be it the secret ending
or the custom night) holds up really well.
It’s fair and easy-to-understand,
yet it still manages to be really
challenging and fun. More importantly,
it’s also just one of the
hypest moments in all of FNAF.
Towards the end of the night, Ennard starts
to call out to you in Elizabeth Afton’s voice,
and it’s just so creepy; I’d argue it’s one
of the scariest moments in the series.
For all its faults, Sister Location was a cool
game that resurrected FNAF’s story after
the fourth entry’s “Dream Theory” failed to
pan out. It introduced what are now some of
the series most-iconic characters
like Baby and even William Afton.
That’s right – a lot of you might have
forgotten, but the first utterance of the
name ‘Afton’ (in the games at least)
is in the intro to Sister Location.
“With all due respect, those aren’t the design
choices we were curious about… Mr. Afton.”
The Theft King channel is all
about sad kittens and puppies.
If you don’t SUBSCRIBE,
you HATE sad kittens and puppies.
You don’t HATE sad kittens and puppies…
It was the first FNAF game to really give us some
characterization for the people involved in this
horrific scenario. We get dialogue from William
Afton, Michael Afton, Elizabeth Afton, and Baby.
It’s cool for a FNAF game to give us some glimpse
into who we’re playing as or who the victim that
ended up inside this horrific animatronic was.
Most FNAF games don’t give us that.
Up until now, the five nights in each
FNAF game were all very similar. It was
the same landscape each time, with new threats
added and the difficulty turned up each night,
but that was it. Unlike its predecessors Sister
Location has us going to different sections of the
facility on different nights, with unique dialog
and gameplay for each, and it really did make
the game feel bigger and grander than any FNAF
game before it. Things felt different from night
to night, and I would argue that this multi-phase
gameplay would eventually be perfected in FNAF 6.
For all of its faults, Sister Location
did a lot of things right, and in my opinion?
the true black sheep of
the FNAF series is FNAF 2.
I know some of you might be shocked to hear this.
FNAF 2 frequently tops community
polls for the best FNAF game,
and it’s reached near-legendary status in the community.
This was the game that set everything into motion:
it introduced cutscenes, the retro arcade
minigames that randomly trigger on death,
the purple guy… It established nearly all
of the conventions that we’ve now come to
associate with FNAF. It got rid of the
nonsensical “doors that require power to
stay closed”, and it nearly tripled the
animatronic count over the first game.
FNAF 1 had a handful of secrets to discover:
the newspaper clippings, Golden Freddy,
and later Scott would patch in an easter egg that crashed
the game with the aforementioned bear’s jumpscare.
However, FNAF 2 was full of secrets, and
these ultimately led to the FNAF Game Theory
coverage that we know today. When FNAF 1 came
out, there was no Afton, there was no purple guy,
there was just “phone guy.” MatPat’s early Game
Theory episodes tied the events of FNAF1 to a real life
murder at a Chuck E Cheese in Aurora Colorado
or something like that; there was no lore.
FNAF 2 changed all that. The game featured new,
modern-looking animatronic designs alongside
withered, dilapidated versions of the first
game’s cast. This of course led everyone to
believe that the game would be a sequel, but
perceptive players eventually realized that the
game was actually a prequel, and I think this was actually
really brilliant on series creator Scott Cawthon’s part.
You see, FNAF 1’s story was ripe
for expansion. Who were these kids
that went missing and presumably ended up
stuffed inside robots? Who did it? Why?
By making FNAF 2 a prequel, Scott
was able to start exploring these
interesting questions that had emerged
in the wake of the first game’s success,
and it led to what I can only describe as
a golden age for FNAF and FNAF theories.
However, setting aside the profound impact
that FNAF 2 had on the series as a whole… I just…
I hate the game.
It’s so bad.
I love the animatronic designs and I love the way
they show up in your office and stare you down
but that damn music box is just so annoying.
FNAF 2 introduces “The Puppet”, or
“The Marionette”; a ghostly character that
resides inside a gift box in the Prize
Corner. We’re warned early on that this
animatronic can go anywhere and that
the only way to keep it at bay is to
continually wind-up a music box using some
remote mechanism built into the security camera.
If we ever let the music box
stop, well… this happens:
Five Nights at Freddy’s 1 builds a lot
of tension during the quieter moments
when you’re just scanning through the
cameras trying to figure out what’s going on.
These days many of us know the exact
mechanics behind how the animatronics work,
but back then we didn’t and some of the most
iconic FNAF reactions were predicated on this
downtime that allowed the player to explore.
It allowed us to scare ourselves and let tension
build up so that when the jumpscares
finally did arrive, it was… awesome!
Unfortunately, FNAF 2 got rid of all of that.
When a new animatronic is introduced,
you can’t devote your time to following it through
the cameras and checking out all the cool renders
of it moving through the pizzeria. Instead,
you’re forced to constantly go back to the prize
counter camera and wind up the music box. On later
nights, you basically can’t use any other camera,
because you’re so busy cycling between hiding
behind the mask and winding up the music box.
Again – you don’t need to use all the cameras
in FNAF 1 either, but you could, and most
players did on their initial playthroughs.
It isn’t easy to pick up on exploits like camstalling
your first go-around; most players
won’t. In contrast, from the very first night
in FNAF 2 the player is constantly worrying about
winding the stupid music box and in my opinion it
really hurts the game’s ability to control
its tension. You actually do have a lot of
time to explore the cameras on early nights;
the game tries to be really forgiving and the timer
takes forever to tick down but… it doesn’t matter
though! The player knows that the clock is running
and they’re always going to have it at forefront
of their minds. Watch any FNAF 2 playthrough,
and you’ll see that players wind up the music
box obsessively. Most never let it elapse for
more than a few seconds before topping it
off again. The game even encourages this:
the longer you wait before recharging the
music box, the longer it takes to wind it back up.
The result is a game that has a ton of cool
characters, mechanics, renders, and scares,
yet the player can’t really enjoy them to
their fullest because they’re constantly
preoccupied with the music box
and the associated Marionnette.
The music box wasn’t a bad idea per se – forcing
the player to take their attention off of the more
randomized threats was actually pretty clever. It
was just the implementation that didn’t work out so well.
FNAF 3’s gameplay emphasized the cameras
perhaps more than any other game in the series,
requiring that we search for Springtrap throughout
Fazbear Frights and use sound lures and close
vents in as we desperately try to keep him away
from us. Periodically, we’ll encounter phantom
animatronics and equipment malfunctions that force
us to take our attention off of Springtrap, but
these threats aren’t constant. There’s little that
we can do to stop our cameras or audio lures from
going out, and thus they aren’t at the forefront of our
minds during gameplay; we don’t obsess over them.
As a result, FNAF 3 is a much better
game than FNAF 2, and it holds up particularly
well even today. The game still manages to be
fun on both blind and subsequent playthroughs.
FNAF 4 didn’t have any cameras, but Foxy operated
similarly to how the music box did in FNAF 2;
whenever you get a chance, you run
to the closet and hold it closed,
reverting Foxy into earlier phases.
FNAF 4’s gameplay is just so different,
it’s hard to compare it directly.
I’m not the only one who was especially unhappy
with the music box’s implementation in FNAF 2.
FNAF Plus developer Phisnom disliked
it so much, he made a full remake of FNAF 2
with the intention of fixing all of the
things he despised about the game.
They originally intended to release the game’s
source code, enabling anyone who was interested
to tinker with it and potentially release
their own “FNAF mods”, but this unfortunately
drew the attention of Five Nights at Freddy’s
creator Scott Cawthon, who took the game down.
During my interview with him this past June,
I asked Phisnom why he thought his fangame in
particular was taken down when so many other,
more egregious FNAF fangames
(some of which are essentially just straight-up
pirated copies of Scott’s official releases)
One of the things he suggested to me was that Scott
was perhaps made uncomfortable by his intention
to make the game’s code open source, which seems
pretty likely to me. I get the impression
that Scott is cool with people making their
own FNAF games from the ground-up, but
he’s less down with what would essentially
become “FNAF-maker” software that anyone
could use to effortlessly make a FNAF clone.
Think about it: had FNAF 2: Open Source
actually released, the FNAF fangame scene
might look like Friday Night Funkin’s does
today, with every pop culture reference
getting a hastily-thrown-together FNAF mod.
That would suck – that would be terrible.
After FNAF 2: Open Source was taken down and
Phisnom reached out to Scott, they spoke, and
at some point discussed the classic FNAF games.
Phisnom told Scott Cawthon that the music box
in FNAF 2 was: “a horrible idea. That’s literally
why I didn’t include it for [FNAF 2 Open Source].”
As most are aware, Scott’s takedown
of this game is what ultimately led
to FNAF Plus being conceptualized
and included in the Fazbear Fanverse.
Think about that – the music
box in FNAF 2 sucked so much,
that someone went and remade the whole
game just so that they could omit it.
Then that game got taken down which led to its
developer and Scott Cawthon getting into contact and
ultimately led to what is undeniably the
most widely-anticipated FNAF fangame ever.
We have the shitty music box
to thank for FNAF Plus.
The music box was so bad it created FNAF Plus.
Sure, you could argue that this only refers to
the music box; that “the rest of FNAF 2 is fine”,
but I disagree. The music box is constantly in the
background, taunting you, and it’s impossible to ignore.
Playing FNAF 2 Open Source, where you can
turn off the music box and enjoy the game
in a manner more akin to FNAF 1? It’s night
and day. It’s a strictly-superior experience,
and suddenly FNAF 2 goes from my least favorite
game in the series to one of my favorites.
I love FNAF 2 for what it represents, but… the
gameplay just doesn’t hold up. In my opinion it’s
aged much worse than any of the other entries,
and while it was important in regards to setting
up the characters and scenario and all the good
stuff that FNAF would eventually become known for,
it didn’t evolve the gameplay all that much.
FNAF 3 and 4 were both radical departures from
the prior games, and for all of Sister Location’s
faults, it did introduce elements that are now
critical to the series. Yes; the game is
bad. Individually, none of the gameplay in
Sister Location comes close to FNAF 2’s most
basic nights, music box included. However,
when I go back and play Sister Location today?
I still have fun. I still like, try to play the whole game,
even if I do skip a couple of the more frustrating
minigames. When I try to play FNAF 2 though?
I end up quitting by Night 4 or 5; that
music box is just so frustrating. It isn’t fun.
I think Sister Location is actually underrated
by the community, whereas FNAF 2 is overrated.
Both feel really similar to me in that they’re
almost “transitory games”; entries where Scott
was playing around with ideas and not quite sure
what direction he wanted to take the series,
but I agree that Sister Location has the
weakest gameplay in the series. Regardless,
it had an immeasurable impact on the series
as a whole. It was an ambitious game that placed
Scott outside his comfort zone. It didn’t
continue to piggyback on the success of prior
entries like 2 through 4 did. It… stumbled,
but I still appreciate it for what it is.
I still appreciate that Scott went out
on a limb and tried something new.
I think that’s cool.
FNAF 2 on the other hand is often rated as
the best game in the series by many fans,
but I strongly disagree. Honestly? I suspect
most of the people who say this haven’t played
FNAF 2 in a really long time. I think they’re just
remembering the hype around FNAF 2’s release and
Markiplier’s videos and the MatPat theories and
the introduction of purple guy and all that stuff,
and that’s fair! Those elements are just
as important to FNAF as the gameplay,
and to fans who don’t play the games (which is a
lot of people), those things are more important.
However, from a pure gameplay perspective I really
just can’t stand FNAF 2. I think
it’s super overrated, and yeah:
I’d rather play Sister Location. While the
minigames can get frustrating and annoying,
it provides so much more variety, humor, and an
overall more fun experience for me personally.
What’s your favorite FNAF game?
For me, it’s either FNAF 1 or FNAF 4,
but I actually think I prefer Sister Location to 2;