Quality Quadrilogy: FNaF Franchise (1-4): My Thoughts and Rankings

DCfnaf
What's happening guys, this is DCfnaf! If you read my description, you will notice that in the occupation section, I wrote “Movie/Video Game Reviewer/Critic”. If you scroll through my posts, you will notice that I haven't reviewed a video game yet. Don't worry, I will get to that. However, before I do my first video game review, I need to make this post. My first video game review will be on Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location, as I have played through the game recently and I want to give my opinion on it. However, before I do that, I wanted to give all of you my opinions on the other four games so you all know how I feel about each entry so far. Before we do that, however, let's talk about the game’s developer, Scott Cawthon.

Before Five Nights at Freddy's, Scott Cawthon made a lot of other games. They never really got that much attention and aren't particularly worth noting, except for one. That game was Chipper and Sons Lumber Co., a game aimed at kids about a chipmunk who cut down trees. While intending to be endearing and cute, the actual effect of Chipper and Sons’ character designs and animations were...well...I think “nightmarish” would be a diplomatic way of putting things. After submitting the game to Steam Greenlight, the wider world got to see the horror that was Chipper and Sons, a game of dead-eyed animals jerking their jerky way through the woods. Jim Sterling and other critics criticized the game for being unintentionally terrifying. One critic even said that the characters looked like dead-eyed animatronics. The effect the criticism had on Scott was anything but amusing. By his own admission, the developer spiraled into what he called a deep depression as a result of the response. After a lot of thought, not only did he use the criticism to improve, but he actively ROLLED with that criticism and turned into a positive. “Something in me snapped and I thought to myself that I bet I could make something a lot scarier than that!” And thus, the idea of Five Nights at Freddy’s was born. After coming up with a game title and starting the development process, Scott launched a kickstarter for the game with a goal of $10,000. Unfortunately, the kickstarter got a whopping sum of $0. Disappointed that the kickstarter received no money, Scott canceled the kickstarter in June 2014. Luckily for us, Scott kept trying to make his game well known, and on August 8th, 2014, Five Nights at Freddy's was released on Steam. Then, the magic began.

Five Nights at Freddy's had a unique take on horror. It's fresh approach was leaving people breathless. The simple design of Five Nights at Freddy's was a key to its success. The horror is all in the anticipation and unknown with your imagination and childhood experiences filling in the game's blanks. This is the greatest strength of Five Nights at Freddy's. The game's simplicity allows you to jump in quickly. Your fear and paranoia escalate quickly as you manage your power levels, always tempting to hold those doors closed a moment longer. Sadly for you, that uses even more power, which makes you more paranoid. Five Nights at Freddy's is a perfect blend of simplicity, originality, fear, and tension. I can safely say that this is one of my favorite FNaF games. It's only real weakness is that the story is somewhat lacking in comparison to the following games. There are no hidden minigames and very little in the way of Easter eggs. This is likely a result of Five Nights at Freddy’s being a gamble for Scott, who was not sure if this game would be a huge success. I'm really glad that it was. Other than that, the scares get old after a while, but that doesn't affect the game too much.

Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 was released on November 10th, 2014, a mere three months after its predecessor was released. While it was criticized for this fact, it was widely enjoyed by critics and gamers alike. This time, Scott raised the stakes on us. We were forced to not only face the five characters from the first game, but four new remodeled versions, a music loving Marionette, two shadows, an Endoskeleton, and the insufferable Balloon Boy. In the first game, things seemed somewhat relaxed and minimalist. In this game, things are hectic and there is a lot more to keep track of. This overwhelmed the fear factor and made stress its way of scaring you. In my opinion, keeping track of around 10 animatronics is a little too much for it to have the simple immersion of the first game. Mechanically there is very little deviation from the first game as well. Sure, you have no doors and you have to wind the music box, but to me it always seemed to be a little overdone, and the game comes down to a simple repetition. It didn’t share the first game’s less-is-more approach. While Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 is my least favorite in terms of gameplay and mechanics, this is the point where the lore started to ramp up. For the first time, we had minigames and secrets to uncover. YouTube was exploding with theories and speculation. It may seem strange now, but at this point in the game’s timeline, there were still people arguing over whether it was a sequel or a prequel to the original. (Obviously, it’s the latter.) To actively play Five Nights at Freddy’s 2, you can’t just jump in. It requires you to have played the first game and because of this I would not rank it the best game in the series. Mechanically, it is weak, but it is strong in the lore category and it is a must-play in understanding the series’ backstory.

Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 was released on March 2nd, 2015. This game does not take place in a restaurant. We are now the security guard of a haunted attraction based on Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 is the most controversial in terms of popularity and the mixed reviews it received reflect this. While beating Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 was largely dependant on learning patterns, Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 returns to the less-is-more approach of the first game. While Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 may be one of the most unpopular, I believe that in terms of mechanics, tone, and story, it is solid. Five Nights at Freddy’s 3’s hidden lore answered a lot of questions and its use of minigames hidden inside minigames made for an amazing experience in trying to unravel the mysteries of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza’s backstory. Adding Springtrap to the cast of animatronics was a fresh addition and the mind games Scott added to this game were the designs of a mastermind. The only thing that shocked me more than some of the ways you unravel the story is that people were even able to figure them out!!! The biggest issue I have with this game is that it feels...disconnected in the timeline. This game takes place 30 years after the first game’s events and out of the restaurant with none of the original animatronics attacking you. This makes the game feel much more like a spin-off game with some story flashbacks and easter eggs rather than another entry in the series.

Five Nights at Freddy’s 4: The Final Chapter was released on July 23rd, 2015, with extra content being added on Halloween. Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 is certainly the most unique installment in the franchise, as it switched out the idea of being a security guard and checking cameras for playing as a small child hiding from nightmares. The clever use of animation such as looking down at the floor while running adds to the tension and fear of the unknown. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of this game was the switch from visual to audio being the most important tool for completing the game. Listening for breathing and trying to determine which side you’ll be ambushed from makes for a very visceral experience. Often times on later nights, when I’d stand at the door and listen for breathing, I would close my eyes. In doing this, my imagination got to work, filling in those blanks with the worst your subconscious could dream up. This reaction was very shocking and horrifying, but also very ingenious. Closing your eyes and listening for monsters is exactly what a child would do. Scott did a great job on the fear factor here. While some understanding of the previous games is useful for Five Nights at Freddy’s 4, this game is the first game since the original that you can jump in and play as someone new to the series. The combination of new direction, audio clues, and animation quality that all come from the child’s perspective make Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 one of my favorite installments in the franchise. The only major issue I can think of off of the top of my head is that trying to fit in this game’s minigames with the rest of the story was very annoying, but I still liked how this game had a story mainly focusing on one character and you could follow what was going on.

So there you have it. Those are my miniature reviews of each game. The only reason they aren’t as detailed as some of my other reviews is that I don’t feel like making four detailed reviews just to build up to one big review. Anyways, now I am going to rank the games from my least favorite to favorite. I do like each and every game in the series, but I just think some are better than others. This is quite subjective and largely consists of my silly, personal opinion. If you disagree with me, let me know how you would rank the four games down below. Anyways, with that out of the way, let’s rank the four games.

Probably coming off as no surprise, my least favorite installment of the franchise is Five Nights at Freddy’s 2. I believe that this game was the weakest out of the four. It almost felt like an expansion pack to the first game rather than its own standalone. There was very little in the way of gameplay innovation and playing the game without having played the original would not leave much of an impression for newcomers.

Fittingly enough, I would place Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 at third place. While this is the installment of the franchise that I found very satisfying and enjoyable thanks to its fantastic gameplay mechanics, it felt like I was playing a completely different game franchise that had some references to the FNaF franchise. It also wasn’t as fear-inducing and original as the 1st and 4th installments were.

My runner-up for this ranking is the classic Five Nights at Freddy’s game. It certainly is hard to beat the charm and nostalgia of this entry, with its simplistic design that reached that deep uncanny valley we experienced when seeing the animatronics for the first time. This game was also the first of its kind and it showed us how a simple less-is-more design to horror games could become one of the most popular scary games out there. It also showed us you don’t need the biggest budget and longest story to scale players. The only reason it is not my favorite is because the scares do get old after a while and I personally enjoy having some type of story and characters in my games.

This means that taking the winning trophy for being my favorite game in the series is Five Nights at Freddy’s 4: The Final Chapter. The reason it is my favorite out of the main four games is because the fear factor never goes away and the jumpscares never get old. It's the scariest one in my opinion. The animation and sound quality is really good and it shows you how much Scott has improved in development from the first game to the fourth in less than a year. The mechanics and the gameplay truly shine in this installment as well. Having to stand very close to the door potentially knowing something is there and listening for breath is absolutely horrifying. The tragic story behind the protagonist also makes you shed a tear. I really like Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 and I recommend you get this one or the first as your entry to the series.

Favorite To Least Favorite:

Five Nights at Freddy’s 4
Five Nights at Freddy’s
Five Nights at Freddy’s 3
Five Nights at Freddy’s 2

So, how accurate do you think my list is? Did you agree with my list from 1-4? How would you rank the four games? Which game is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section below. If you enjoyed this, be sure to check out more of my content and stick around for more high quality reviews, responses, and rants. Thanks for reading this painfully long post and I will see you all in my next post. Peace!

Comments

Agreed - TwilightKitsune

With this? Or it being high quality? - DCfnaf

Great post as always. - ModernSpongeBobSucks

As always, thank you. Happy 1 year anniversary. I recommend giving these games a try. They're all pretty solid games. - DCfnaf

Good Post, Even Though I Haven't Played The Games Yet, I Don't See Why It Gets So Much Hate Just Because Of The Fanbase - VideoGamefan5

I'm glad you aren't on the "let's hate FNaF bandwagon". If you feel like trying the games, I'd suggest starting with Five Nights at Freddy's 1 or Five Nights at Freddy's 4. You can easily jump in and play those as someone new to the series. I will review Sister Location soon, so stick around for that. - DCfnaf

Well ok I played the series... not that great outside SL,2 or 4 but I love the story so much, interesting.
I'm gonna say:

SL>2=4>1>3>World - DaisyandRosalina

1 was also pretty good due to how simple it was. - DCfnaf

Don't get the hate honestly, these games are pretty fun and have great lore - purpleyoshi98

This post is a bit out of date, I do have legitimate issues with the games and now I'd call 1 the best game. - DCfnaf

Well yeah they do have lots of problems and getting stale but they're good gamed - purpleyoshi98

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