Welcome to the worst job in the world! One of the scariest indie games you'll ever find (and, depending on who's talking, possibly one of the scariest games period), Five Nights at Freddy's is a solitary roller coaster ride of time management, energy allocation, and jump scares aplenty. You can't move, you can't fight, and you can't leave until 6 am. Are you up to the challenge of keeping watch over the most terrible pizza parlour ever to receive certification? Let's find out.
Five Nights at Freddy's premise is simple enough, though by no means is the execution a simple matter. You play the role of the night guard at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, a popular kid's restaurant in the vein of Chuck E. Cheese. Your job is to keep an eye on the premises from 12 am to 6 am for five nights in a row, earning a minimum wage paycheck for your troubles at the end of the week. Sounds like an absolute piece of cake -
- but, predictably, there's a problem standing in your way. (Make that four problems, actually.) Freddy Fazbear's Pizza is populated by four animatronics, hulking robots that, during the day, spend their time delighting the children with songs and japes. They sound harmless enough in theory, but the animatronics have a habit of moving around the pizzeria at night... and if they catch you exposed in your guard's office they'll submit you to a rather grisly fate. Your purpose, then, is to survive from 12 am to 6 am, using a variety of minor tricks and security measures to keep the animatronics out of your office and away from your precious vitals.
Five Nights at Freddy's is not played like most horror games. From the get-go you're stuck in your office, forced to remain in your chair and wait out your time as the animatronics slowly move through the pizzeria and up to your location. All you can do is keep them out, hopefully, and wait for 6 am to roll around. Fending off the animatronics is not easy - but you do have some help. Not much, but some.
Though you can neither move nor fight, you have multiple methods for warding off the animatronics and remaining alive for a few more hours. These methods include:
- Watching the cameras. At the bottom of your screen is a white bar. Touch it with your mouse and you'll pull up a series of camera feeds that cover the majority of Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, allowing you to follow the progress of the animatronics as they lumber through the pizzeria. You can switch cameras by clicking on the white boxes mapped out in the bottom-right corner of the screen. The stills on these cameras will change as the animatronics move, and are vital for keeping the robots out of your hair. We'll explore using the cameras in greater depth below.
- Checking your lights. There are a pair of lights on the left and right sides of your office. Using these will allow you to investigate the hallways immediately outside the office, revealing any animatronics that might be lingering at the doors. This is your last line of defence, and can save you from certain death. Check your lights often. And when you see an animatronic leering at you?
- Closing the doors. Yep, it's that simple. Whenever an animatronic pokes its head a little too close to you for comfort, you can close the doors that are beside the lights. This will protect you from the animatronic's weird impulses.
Sounds like you're covered, right? Just close the doors and you're golden. Unfortunately, there's one major barrier standing between you and complete safety.
From the moment your days begin at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza there is a ticking power gauge in the bottom-left corner of the screen. Starting at 99%, your power will slowly wind down to 0%, at which point the lights in the pizzeria will go off and bad things will happen. You have more than enough power to last from 12 am to 6 am...
... assuming you do absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, every action you take besides simply looking around - checking cameras, turning on lights, closing the doors - uses up a bit of power. Each active piece of electronic is indicated via coloured bars via the total amount of power left. The amount of power lost per action are fairly minuscule, but after using them too often - or for too long - the power expenditure can become substantial, to the point that new players are often stranded without power halfway through their first night. This, predictably, is deadly, and will usually force you to replay a given night. (Only usually, though. More on using power outages to your advantage below.)
The key, then, is to use power wisely. Don't activate your security defences unless they're absolutely vital. The rest of the time you should leave 'em alone and simply wait out the night. This means knowing how the animatronics act, allowing you to predict their actions and respond accordingly.
There are four animatronics in Five Nights at Freddy's. Each has its own set pattern of meandering through the pizzeria, and each can be countered with some very specific tactics. You'll need to keep tabs on all four to survive a night at Five Nights at Freddy's, though, mercifully, they don't all become threats until the third night. You can check up on the animatronics by observing the Show Stage camera (Cam 1A), as three of the four always begin their night here. More on the exception below.
A big, purple bunny with a lovely red bow tie. The first animatronic that's likely to cause you trouble, Bonnie is usually also the first animatronic to move each night. You can tell he's moving if you hear thudding footsteps in the halls. He sticks to the west side of the pizzeria, and will hop from Cams 1B, 5, 3, 2A, and 2B, not necessarily in a sequential order. Consequently, he can be on Cam 1B one minute and Cam 2B the next, with little warning that he's on his way. Bonnie will always appear outside the left door, visible via light, and will remain at the door for several long moments before he sneaks into the office. Once he gets inside the light and door on the left side will no longer work, giving you a few seconds to contemplate your impending demise.
Though a credible threat to new players, Bonnie is ultimately one of the lesser animatronics in terms of difficulty. His movements are random enough that following him on the cameras is futile, and his destination is always the same. So long as you check your left doorway once in a while - say, once every thirty seconds or so - he should not be a problem.
A hefty chicken with a decorative bib and too many sets of teeth. Chica is the second animatronic likely to cause you grief, and she'll become an immediate danger from the second night onward. She becomes active shortly after Bonnie, in most cases, but unlike the rabbit she'll move through the east side of the pizzeria. Also unlike Bonnie, Chica tends not to teleport at random, instead hopping from camera feed to camera feed in a more predictable pattern. After leaving the Show Stage she can appear on Cam 1B, 7, 6 (in which she's audible as clattering pots and pans), 4A, and 4B. Once Chica's at 4A or 4B she'll almost certainly appear at the right door within the next minute or two. Chica will disable the light and door once she's inside the office.
Chica is another not-too-tough animatronic. She's predictable, like Bonnie, and she won't show up on your right as often as the rabbit appears on your left. Check the right light whenever you check the left and you should catch Bonnie well before she becomes a threat. You can also check Bonnie's light without having to open the door, which makes waiting her out a little less painful on your total power.
A vulpine pirate with a flipsy eye patch. Foxy is the 'surprise' animatronic, as he's the only one who will not begin each night on the Show Stage. Instead, Foxy will spend his time in Pirate Cove (Cam 1C), hidden begin a purple curtain. He will then slowly begin to emerge from the curtain, first poking his nose out, then wandering a short way from the enclosure.
Once Foxy is no longer visible on Cam 1C he will begin a mad dash towards your left door, one that you can trigger by observing the West Hall (Cam 2A). After the dash is observed you'll have only a few seconds to close the left door before Foxy pops his head into the office and ends the game. If you manage to close the door on time Foxy will bang on it several times before wandering back to Pirate Cove to repeat the cycle. His bangs cost power, so stopping him from doing this is essential to your survival.
Foxy doesn't like to be observed on camera, and will remain in Pirate Cove if you check his enclosure from time to time. He will only come out to attack if you ignore him completely... or, on nights four and five, if you check him too often. Once every twenty seconds or so should keep Foxy in his place. If you check Pirate Cove and Foxy is not there, immediately close the left door, then check Cam 2A to trigger his running animation. This will bring him straight to the door, get his banging out of the way, and allow you to focus on other matters again. On later nights, Pirate Cove will probably be the only room you observe consistently on the cameras.
A lumpy bear with a top hat, a bow tie, and a microphone. Freddy is the ultimate in evil in Five Nights at Freddy's, and will present you with the greatest challenge as far as survival is concerned. Utterly inactive for the first two nights (besides occasionally leering at the camera on the Show Stage), Freddy becomes quietly active on the third night. His movements are far less predictable than those of the other animatronics: sticking to the east side of the pizzeria, like Chica, Freddy will move between Cams 1B, 7, 6 (at which point he's identified by his creepy jingle), 4A, and 4B. Freddy laughs deeply whenever he moves.
Unlike the other animatronics Freddy will stick to the shadows, making him rather difficult to see unless you know where to look (watch for his eyes), and if he's in the same room as either Bonnie or Chica he won't appear at all. He does not appear at the door, and if you spot Freddy on Cam 4B you need to promptly shut the door to keep him out.
Freddy and his unerring path make the final two nights of Five Nights at Freddy's quite dangerous. The key to stopping him is to always know where he is, as observing him on the camera feeds will slow his movement towards the office. From night three and onward you should split your camera time between locating Freddy and observing Foxy at Pirate Cove. Once you've located Freddy, keep watching him every ten to fifteen seconds to stall his movements. Make relocating him your first priority whenever he moves. Do this enough and you shouldn't have to worry about him overly much.
The Phone Guy
Though obviously not an animatronic, the Phone Guy who leaves you messages on four of the five nights can be a threat in and of himself. He's no big deal on the first and second nights, but if you focus solely on listening to the Phone Guy on the third and fourth nights without countering the animatronics you may miss some vital movements and get killed before the Phone Guy is even finished talking. Don't let his explanations distract you from Freddy and company.
In addition to all of the loveliness above, you may occasionally be assaulted by weird, distracting hallucinations, largely in the form of flickering overlays and weird noises. Though not a threat in and of themselves, these hallucinations can distract you from the animatronics. Do your best to ignore them.
There are two ways to die in Five Nights at Freddy's:
- Allow one of the four animatronics to enter your office. Once an animatronic is inside there is virtually nothing you can do to stop an attack, though if you refuse to look at the camera feeds once your lights and doors stop working you can delay the attack. This tactic only works on Bonnie and Chica.
- Run out of power. Doing so will trigger an extended sequence inside the darkened office, and, ultimately, Freddy will come for you from the left side of the office.
Letting one of the animatronics into your office is unwise, but running out of power can actually prove to be a useful stalling tactic if you've reached 5 am. Freddy's attack animation in the darkness takes a while to trigger, and the clock continues to run while he's preparing to leap. This may give you just enough time to survive until 6 am. You can extend the amount of time you have by letting go of the controls and not moving even the slightest bit once Freddy's jingle begins to play. Move around to look at Freddy, though, and his attack will come much more promptly.
Five Nights at Freddy's main game is spread out over, duh, five nights. You must survive all five to complete the game and earn yourself a single star on the menu screen. The nights get progressively more difficult, requiring players to ramp up their strategies in the hopes of surviving.
Your first night at Freddy Fazbear's is nice and peaceful. The only animatronic that's likely to bother you is Bonnie, and he won't move into view until late in the night. The animatronics won't even begin to move until the Phone Guy is done talking, and he talks for a looooong time on the first night. So long as you check your lights and pop into Pirate Cove once or twice, this night shouldn't tax you over much.
That said, new players should not mess around with the electronics too much. The most likely way to die on the first night is to run out of power while exploring the game's options. Fiddle with the cameras as much as you like, but don't close the doors for an extended period of time. You're just asking for trouble.
The game begins in earnest on Night 2. Bonnie and Chica are both relatively active here, and will present the greatest threats to your survival. Follow them on your monitor if you wish, but all you really have to do is check your door lights every minute or so to ensure that they're not leering in at you. Foxy is addressed for the first time on this night, but watching him on the Pirate Cove camera once a minute will keep him pinned and out of your hair.
The Phone Guy isn't kidding when he says "Things start getting real tonight." Night 3 is likely to be the first major stumbling block for players who haven't gotten the hang of checking their doors, preserving their power, and / or checking on Pirate Cove often enough. The animatronics are now much more aggressive than before, with both Bonnie and Chica rushing your doors at regular intervals, and Foxy is much more likely to pop out of Pirate Cove and pay you a visit if you don't look at him often enough. Conserve your power for operating the door lights and checking Pirate Cove, and forget about trying to follow Bonnie and Chica on the cameras. Their movements are predictable, and you want to have enough juice to ID 'em at the doors and lock them out of the office.
Night 3 is also the first night that Freddy becomes active, and he'll do so largely without warning. He's not a major threat at this point, as he moves very slowly through the rooms, but if you don't catch him on the camera feeds at all he can still kill you. Alternate between the Show Stage and Pirate Cove whenever observing the cameras to keep Freddy pinned in place for as long as you can. Assuming he moves after 3 am or so, you're probably safe to ignore him from that point on.
At this point Five Nights at Freddy's falls into a predictable pattern, though one that becomes more and more difficult to overcome. The animatronics are more aggressive than on Night 3, with more frequent visits from Bonnie and Chica, and Foxy in particular likes emerging from his curtain rather often. Your night should consist of checking the lights, checking Pirate Cove, and checking the Show Stage in a repetitious loop. Do this and you can catch the animatronics with relative ease, preventing death. Power is an issue, as ever, but pinning Foxy and Freddy with the camera will reduce the chances of ever needing the doors.
Freddy becomes especially dangerous on this night, as he's much more active than on Night 3. Keeping him on the Show Stage with constant observation is essential to your survival. If you hear him laugh, make a quick circuit around the eastern cameras to find his position, and adjust your routine accordingly.
Your final trial. Night 5 is virtually no different from Night 4, save that the animatronics are more aggressive than ever. You'll likely fall into a predictable pattern of behaviour for the entire night:
- Check your lights
- Check Pirate Cove
- Check Freddy (wherever he might be)
- Check your lights
- Check Freddy
- Check Pirate Cove
- Check your lights
Once the phone call is done you'll want to be checking your lights on a regular basis, as Bonnie and Chica make swift beelines for the office almost immediately after it ends. If you can manage to pin Foxy and Freddy in their respective starting locations via the camera, Bonnie and Chica will be the only ongoing threats to your game. If Freddy does leave the Show Stage (which he probably will), make a concerted effort to find him via his laughs. If he laughs five times, he's right outside the door.
Despite how it may seem, Freddy can move away from the office if you lock him out on Cam 4B. He will not move away, however, if you continue to observe him on the camera. Once he reaches 4B and you've closed the door, ignore that side of the office until you hear him laugh again. This means he's moved away and is no longer a threat. He will not move if you keep looking at him in the camera. Let the big 'ol bear sulk over his defeat by his lonesome and focus your attention on the left door.
Of the 'main' nights of Five Nights at Freddy's, Night 5 is the most likely to see experienced players run out of power. This makes the stalling trick while the lights are off all the more important. Don't move so much as an inch once Freddy is staring you down in the dark, as the extra time may be just enough to get you through the night.
What's this? Another night? You betcha. Once you've completed the fifth night this will appear on your main menu, allowing you to work for a bit of overtime. Just as completing the fifth night earns you a star, completing the sixth night will earn you another star.
Night 6 unfolds pretty much the same as Night 5, though the level of aggression from the animatronics is spectacularly high. Nevertheless, your tactics should not change: check your lights, check Pirate Cove, check the Show Stage / Freddy's current location. Close doors as necessary. Repeat until the night is over. Your reflexes will need to be top-notch to beat Freddy and his friends, and you'll need a touch of luck to survive (getting pinned by Bonnie and Chica is spectacularly bad), but you can beat Night 6 if you managed to beat Night 5.
Thought it was over? Think again. Once you've beaten Night 6 you'll unlock the Custom Night, a fancy addition that allows you to tinker with the difficulty levels of the four animatronics. Setting them all to zero will make the night as simple as possible, while increasing them from there will ramp up their aggression levels to some rather ridiculous heights. You can increase each animatronic to a maximum of 20; doing so for all four animatronics leads to the notorious 4/20 mode challenge, which, despite not being an official challenge within the game, will earn you a third star upon completion. Have fun.
In addition to everything listed above, there's one additional threat in Five Nights at Freddy's: Golden Freddy. The 'hidden' fifth animatronic, Golden Freddy appears as a lumpy, seemingly harmless Freddy Fazbear suit. Unlike every other animatronic, however, Golden Freddy is hidden away for the majority of the game, and you may never see him... unless you go looking for him.
The only known way to spawn Golden Freddy is to keep an eye on the West Hall (Cam 2B). If you flick to this camera feed and get very lucky (or if you just do it over and over for a while - bear in mind that it won't appear if Bonnie's on the camera) you will see a poster on the wall with Golden Freddy's face. As soon as you change back to the office, you'll find Golden Freddy's heaped form sitting in there with you. You'll have only a few seconds to pull the cameras back up before Golden Freddy's kill screen literally overwhelms your game, causing a complete crash. Ouch.
In addition to meeting Golden Freddy in-game, you can come across this bundle of fun by entering 1/9/8/7 as your settings for the Custom Night. Why those numbers? Well, you see...