Five Nights at Freddy's and the Nature of the Jumpscare

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Five Nights at Freddy's and the Nature of the Jumpscare

Yahtzee takes a moment to explain the jumpscare and how anticipation is more his enemy than the actual scare itself.

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Here's the RedLetterMedia video Yahtzee mentioned, you should watch it, the movie discussions by these guys are really great. http://redlettermedia.com/half-in-the-bag-sinister-and-paranormal-activity/

They start talking about the movie around 22 minutes and about jumpscares around 25.

I think that's a fair argument, and if I'll be honest some of the stuff to do with the story in FNaF is only stuff you can put together from trial and error or if you go back and look at each detail carefully (probably in a YouTube video). That's not usually a problem, but quite a bunch of lore in FNaF can only be deduced after the fact. And the story suffers because of the abysmal horror logic of the premise (as unique as it is), all the interesting lore built on a foundation of failure.

Take this for example, crap as it may be:

"People tell me that FNAF actually has a really intriguing story once you get into it. That's great, good for it. Still not gonna play it. Give me a call when they add the option to run down the corridor braining things with a hockey stick."

Wow, you can't be pleased w/ anything, can you Yahtzee? You really think you can't induce horror on someone when they're stuck in one room? Yeah I'm done going to Yahtzee for opinions on any horror that isn't part of AAA gaming. This reads more like he's saying "I don't want to say my naysayers have a good point" more than a rebuttal. Like he doesn't want to bother.

Speaking of Freddy's: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdHlIy0W4uU

LordTerminal:

Wow, you can't be pleased w/ anything, can you Yahtzee? You really think you can't induce horror on someone when they're stuck in one room? Yeah I'm done going to Yahtzee for opinions on any horror that isn't part of AAA gaming.

You didn't read what he wrote, did you? His issue wasn't that the game took place in a single room, it's that it was all jump scares and nothing else. There are lots more ways to do horror in a single room (Saw, anyone?) than just creepy monsters going "abloogy woogy woo".

Also, yaaaaay, Yahtzee likes Half in the Bag too.

"Give me a call when they add the option to run down the corridor braining things with a hockey stick."

Ironic closing statement from someone whose favorite horror games sometimes don't have any weapons.

Pescetarian:

LordTerminal:

Wow, you can't be pleased w/ anything, can you Yahtzee? You really think you can't induce horror on someone when they're stuck in one room? Yeah I'm done going to Yahtzee for opinions on any horror that isn't part of AAA gaming.

You didn't read what he wrote, did you? His issue wasn't that the game took place in a single room, it's that it was all jump scares and nothing else. There are lots more ways to do horror in a single room (Saw, anyone?) than just creepy monsters going "abloogy woogy woo".

Except no it's not. I'm sick of people looking at the damn Game Over screens and thinking that's all there is to the game.

I do find it interesting that Yahtzee came up with the same 'solution' to the game's main problem that I did: the ability to actually move around and explore the restaurant would've helped the game immensely, either to just simply explore (and find some of the vaunted story elements people have mentioned, rather than just happen across them at the right moment) or to fix an issue caused by Freddy and his friends (such as fixing a sabotaged cameras, getting gas for a generator to get more power, and so on).

Of course, we technically did get that in the form of Alien: Isolation, so there you go. Perhaps you could say it's a matter of scale, given that FNaF's was done by one person and all.

Still, I've never personally understood the appeal of the game; I've seen several playthroughs of it by other people, and it's looked incredibly boring to me, jump-scares aside. Admittedly the lore is rather interesting (especially MatPat from Game Theorist's two videos on the subject that were excellent), but the game itself... eh.

(On a related note, I'm personally hoping Yahtzee takes a crack at the older-style horror-themed adventure game The Last Door myself.)

As somebody who has struggled with internet "screamers" (do we still call them that?) from a very young age, the very nature of Five Nights at Freddy's should be a game that I shouldn't attempt to come near with a ten-foot pole. Yet as I say this, I am looking at both currently-available games sitting in my Steam library. Having attempted to play the game quite a few times, I fall along the lines of what Yahtzee is talking about here: the game handles anticipation and paranoia almost too well.

The entire time you are playing the game, you know what is going to come. Every audio cue and quirk that comes causes me to jump, so much so that I never even made it to the "real" jumpscares that come when you lose. That being said, I still find myself deeply enthralled with the game's simplistic premise and all-too-familiar setting (I used to work at a Chuck E' Cheese). While I may not find the game all that enjoyable to play, I can't very well seem to tear myself away from the story that the game has developed for itself.

Jumpscares have always been a problem with me, as I was exposed to the now internet-famous "Blue Maze" game when I was in around the 5th grade or so. I've struggled with nightmares regarding these moments in the past. Five Nights at Freddy's wants to scare me so badly and it succeeds to a great degree, but Yahtzee does have a sort of point...it is little more than a jumpscare waiting to happen.

I like the links made between horror and comedy. The observation I've been intrigued by is short fiction horror relies on punch lines just like longer form jokes. Good horror also builds on itself like callbacks in a comedy routine. I'm curious if the 'rule of three' works in horror, too. I suspect it does, or has an analog.

The anticipation by FNAF would really irritate me for a different reason. If I think something bad is going to happen to me, I ask the following questions. Can I find a way to block it? Can I find a way to destroy or disable it? Can I find a position where I have sufficient warning and a reliable escape route? If the answer to all three is no, the correction action is to realise no consequences are worse than being killed and walk away. I would spend FNAF constantly thinking "Quit the job now, you idiot!"

Evonisia:
I think that's a fair argument, and if I'll be honest some of the stuff to do with the story in FNaF is only stuff you can put together from trial and error or if you go back and look at each detail carefully (probably in a YouTube video). That's not usually a problem, but quite a bunch of lore in FNaF can only be deduced after the fact. And the story suffers because of the abysmal horror logic of the premise (as unique as it is), all the interesting lore built on a foundation of failure.

Take this for example, crap as it may be:

Well, that's only example where that "after the fact"-thing applies to something you see or hear in the game. The lions share of the lore is told by the phone guy when you survive (mostly in the sequel) and via what you see in the cameras (e.g. the very first mentioning of the 'missing children' incident). The sequel also adds a few "death mini-games" which you see by chance when you did die - but that's also a bit of a different thing.

Game Theory made two videos about disecting the lore:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=th_LYe97ZVc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1kw1RmzrPc
(First video was made before the second game was released and hence uses guesses on things proven wrong since then)

warmachine:
The anticipation by FNAF would really irritate me for a different reason. If I think something bad is going to happen to me, I ask the following questions. Can I find a way to block it? Can I find a way to destroy or disable it? Can I find a position where I have sufficient warning and a reliable escape route? If the answer to all three is no, the correction action is to realise no consequences are worse than being killed and walk away. I would spend FNAF constantly thinking "Quit the job now, you idiot!"

The answer is indeed no to all three - or at least two of them. "Blocking" is kind of the whole game-mechanic - but you can only do it almost immidiately, while simultaniously dealing with a DIFFERENT thing. In the first game you need to conserve power while USING said power to find out when to close the doors in the first place, which itself also consumes power. The sequel has you regularly go into the cams to wind up a music box - while the only way of defense is to NOT be in the cameras and wear a Helmet which prevents you from winding up the music box or fight off Foxy (which requires the usage of your flashlight which, again, can't be used while wearing the helmet).

And yes, a lot of people asked why the main characters don't just quit their jobs - but there probably ia a reason for that. Theories even include "they actually enjoy it" (especially for the first game!)

He referenced RedLetterMedia!
It's the best feeling when one of my favorite Internet entities mentions another one.

I'm with The Horror Master on this one.
image
Yahtzee worded it similarly - "fart joke" instead of "laugh line" - but it really boils down to the same thing. All jumpscares and nothing else screws up any notion of timing.

Jumpscares are more or less the reason I got out of the horror genre almost altogether. I have a very sour attitude toward the genre in general because of it. Not because jumpscares put me through the roof, but because they're just not that entertaining. They're like explosions in Michael Bay movies after a while. Formulaic and lifeless. The "good" horror movies that people tell me to see before judging the entire genre just tend to be super meta (like Cabin in the Woods) and the rest just do jumpscares with a bit more artistry and story.

Things like body horror and gore I can stand. Probably the best thing I have consumed that can be considered "horror" is Saya no Uta, both its ability to gain new and interesting perspectives on insanity along with being made horrified/uncomfortable by what is going on.

I still don't quite get why Yahtzee is complaining about the anticipation in this game when he praised Amnesia for relying on anticipation over cheap surprises. And now here he's saying that cheap surprises are better? Hell, the gameplay in Freddy's reminded me of nothing so much as Papers, Please, where you're stuck in one place and trying to operate equipment as quickly as possible, constantly afraid of what will happen if you screw up.

I'm with Yahtzee on this one. Jumps scares are good when used right, but after a while they get tiring. Wears you out and eventually it comes down to, "Is this all there is?"

I like my horror to be more than just, "Boo!" on the rare occasions of my wanting horror at all. I fall into the camp of you being your own worst enemy when it comes to horror. The small noises playing tricks on you, the sense of dread that slowly builds in the back of your mind, that feeling of terror as you walk down a hallway and even your own footsteps unnerve you. It's a buildup, but it's a different type of buildup than a jump scare build up.

I can't resist pointing this out: it's funny how Yahtzee previously said that taking combat out of a horror game or making it difficult or a last restort kind of measure improves it, and now here he is lamenting it's not in FNAF. That said, I have to agree with him about FNAF and on jump scares. Jump scares are fine as a tool to keep the audience on edge, but too much of that sort of thing and it becomes tiresomely predictable and the audience gets burned out on it. It doesn't register as much on an emotional level either; it's a fast moment of shock, like getting thumped on the knee with the rubber mallet at the doctor's office, and just like that, it's a purely involuntary reaction. Some folks may enjoy that partiular brand of scare. Me, I find the lurking fear (no pun intended) of not being sure of what's around the corner over knowing something's going to happen and it's only a matter of time. Eventually you get burned out with having images thrust in your face and loud, grating shrieks blasted at your ears. Eventually fear gives way to frustration, and your shouts are less in terror and more in anger.

And, as Yahtzee said, the excessively passive nature of your role in the game is frustrating. Being able to at least try to defend yourself in a game is always appreciated, but even if it's not an option, being able to explore at least makes you feel proactive. It would also give you the option of being able to hide. How much more interesting would FNAF be if the player could venture out into the hallways and rooms, hide under tables and behind fixtures to try and avoid the robots? It would at least give you an option besides just sitting with your thumb up your ass when your power runs out. Plus it would spice things up by allowing players to listen for approaching robots, then duck into a hiding space and wait, listening, and hoping they'd pass them by, maybe peeking out to see if they're thare, but if the robots catch even the slightest sight of the player or sense movement, they rush them and drag them out of their hidey hole.

Maybe they'll try something like that in FNAF 3. Frankly, though, even if they did, I wouldn't feel right about jumping into a series without playing the back games, and at this point, I'm really not relishing the thought of trying to finish the first one or even making an effort at the 2nd.

I just don't understand you, Yahtzee. You hate jumpscares you can see coming but are completely fine with random ones you don't? I feel COMPLETELY the opposite. "Random" jumpscares are the absolute worst a horror movie or game can use as horror because it's not horror at all, just exploiting unavoidable human reaction.

Anticipation is the BEST horror that horror can produce. Tension and a creeping sense of dread is exactly the emotion horror sets out to evoke. FNAF's model is that you know exactly what will happen should you fail - a jumpscare and a Game Over. You obviously want to avoid this, and have the tools at your disposal to do it, if you'd only pay attention to everything. And the more you pay attention, the more the game requires you to pay attention by ratcheting up the difficulty, the more tense you get. Your reward is the exhalation and relief you get when you succeed, like beating a boss in Dark Souls after chipping away at them between blocks for 20 minutes. Fun? No. Satisfying? Yes. I think you're focusing too much on the jump scare aspect. It would be pretty much the same if there was no jumpscare, the game was made of giant squares and circles you had to constantly monitor, and it just cut to the Game Over screen. You fear FAILURE, not the jump scare. The freaky imagery and concept just add to it.

I don't think horror is supposed to be "fun." Fun horror is the equivalent of the popcorn horror flick - you squeal and hug the person next to you, then laugh about it later.

Real horror is not fun. Real horror sticks with you. It makes you think while you're laying in bed later after the movie is over.

FNAF is one of the ones that stuck with me, both the concept and the execution. It's extremely effective, in a way that garbage like Paranormal Activity is not. I think Yahtzee just likes what he likes, but he can't adequately explain why, given his views on this conflict with earlier stated opinions on other things.

But ten thousand points for mentioning Redlettermedia though, the smartest comedy and best review show on the entire internet.

Plus it's funny that people have been saying for years "Stop giving so many weapons, stop making the player able to beat everything, horror is better the more helpless the character is!" at games like Dead Space and you get a game where the character is completely helpless and the same people are like "That's too helpless! I want to be able to fight back and run around!"

LordTerminal:

Pescetarian:

LordTerminal:

Wow, you can't be pleased w/ anything, can you Yahtzee? You really think you can't induce horror on someone when they're stuck in one room? Yeah I'm done going to Yahtzee for opinions on any horror that isn't part of AAA gaming.

You didn't read what he wrote, did you? His issue wasn't that the game took place in a single room, it's that it was all jump scares and nothing else. There are lots more ways to do horror in a single room (Saw, anyone?) than just creepy monsters going "abloogy woogy woo".

Except no it's not. I'm sick of people looking at the damn Game Over screens and thinking that's all there is to the game.

Except it kinda is? Not content-wise but the entire game is centered around NOT getting the game over screen, by sitting there pressing 2 or 3 buttons and memorizing patterns. And, outside of additional animatronics getting added to the fray, there's little physical progress to be seen or made. You survive the set number of nights, and the game is over.

FNAF isnt horrible, but it isn't the Mona Lisa that it's fans make it out to be. (and once you take the time to learn it's plot its pretty boring)

FNAF isn't really all jumpscare. It's all build-up to the jumpscare. Although all build-up does mean it's still all *about* the jumpscare, so maybe it's the same thing.

I dunno, I think the game is really effective at what it does, but I can't play it either because the build-up and tension is never released (except when you die, which is a failed state), and I just can't handle the tension over that extended a period of time. Some can. Me? I like the idea, have enjoyed watching a couple of people play it, but while it makes for a good example of excellent minimalist design, it doesn't have lasting power. That's why I roll my eyes at the sequel. The concept is good to work through one short game. Making a sequel, they just crammed it full of more stuff to the point where you can't even appreciate the build-up of tension because you're never not doing something in near-blind panic.

So, basically: yeah, as a short, single game, FNAF accomplishes what it set out to do very effectively. As a lasting experience, it gives you no reason to go back to it. As an experimental indie game, that's good. As a franchise, it fails to understand its own value.

Thanatos2k:
Plus it's funny that people have been saying for years "Stop giving so many weapons, stop making the player able to beat everything, horror is better the more helpless the character is!" at games like Dead Space and you get a game where the character is completely helpless and the same people are like "That's too helpless! I want to be able to fight back and run around!"

I'd like to think that with FNaF it's a case of the horror logic being so poor. In, let's say, Slender your character is willingly putting themselves into that area and the environment is naturally dicking you over in your pursuit of papers. In FNaF I have absolutely no idea why the security guard can't just barricade an opening with a table and then close one door all night (the one that Foxy doesn't go after, of course, because apparently punching doors removes electricity?). Or better yet, hide and take your iPad with you, it's not like they have X-Ray vision.

I'll leave aside the issues with that job existing in the first place, because it's irrelevant to the situation the security guard is in.

I think Yahtzee, though contradicting himself, is trying to say that there needs to be some kind of balance with the helplessness factor. It's simply unreasonable that all you can do is prevent jump scares from happening for as long as possible because you've nothing to defend yourself with. You can't even hide like in Outlast and Amnesia. You can't focus on these hallucinations or the audio of the cameras when you're busy trying to stop a Chicken that has teeth from invading your private space.

Wow, well this article's gonna garner some mixed responses, two things in particular:

1. Anticipation as the looming sense of dread, e.g. the static in Silent Hill 2.

2. The lack of movement/combat adding to the sense of weakness, e.g. tank controls.

But before peeps start riling, maybe consider that horror (like every other theme) means different things to different people. I know it sounds like an after school special but there are many ways to create something, you don't need to enjoy every method.

Evonisia:

Thanatos2k:
Plus it's funny that people have been saying for years "Stop giving so many weapons, stop making the player able to beat everything, horror is better the more helpless the character is!" at games like Dead Space and you get a game where the character is completely helpless and the same people are like "That's too helpless! I want to be able to fight back and run around!"

I'd like to think that with FNaF it's a case of the horror logic being so poor. In, let's say, Slender your character is willingly putting themselves into that area and the environment is naturally dicking you over in your pursuit of papers. In FNaF I have absolutely no idea why the security guard can't just barricade an opening with a table and then close one door all night (the one that Foxy doesn't go after, of course, because apparently punching doors removes electricity?). Or better yet, hide and take your iPad with you, it's not like they have X-Ray vision.

I'll leave aside the issues with that job existing in the first place, because it's irrelevant to the situation the security guard is in.

If you start applying logic to horror games/movies or video games in general you're gonna have a bad time. Rather than grumble about how unrealistic everything is, it's far more fun to come up with theories why things are the way they are. (Security guard is criminal on parole, REALLY needs the money, can't find work anywhere else, etc) The game leaves most of this stuff to your imagination intentionally.

Steve the Pocket:
I still don't quite get why Yahtzee is complaining about the anticipation in this game when he praised Amnesia for relying on anticipation over cheap surprises. And now here he's saying that cheap surprises are better? Hell, the gameplay in Freddy's reminded me of nothing so much as Papers, Please, where you're stuck in one place and trying to operate equipment as quickly as possible, constantly afraid of what will happen if you screw up.

I think part of it is the peaks and valleys. In games like Silent Hill or Amnesia, you have your general atmosphere of dread or unease creating a backdrop for everything you do and the anticipation of an action ramps up to and down from a scare. In FNaF, your atmosphere is the sense of anticipation, and it can only ramp up until you game over or win. So the whole environment is really homogenous.

There's nothing wrong with stressing someone, but you can't necessarily do it constantly for the same reason very few FPS are just one constant high speed shootout for the full game. At one point or another peoples ability to deal with this or that emotion peaks, and we have to take a rest - normally this would be built into the game but here it just isn't and people who react poorly to stress will just get exhausted and quit or tune out and defang the game by not caring.

I think the appeal of FNaF lies in several factors.

1. Some folks (like Yahtzee) get irritated by lack of control. I mean, if they were stuck in some insane ass Chuck E. Cheese with murderous animatronics, they'd grab the nearest heavy blunt object and swing wildly until they're through the exit door. That makes sense. However, some people like the restraints put on them. That they have no choice but to survive with just some doors or a flashlight. As opposed to being repulsed by the feeling of anticipation, it's appreciated by others. It's not so much the jumpscare that gets the adrenaline pumping. it's the waiting. The knowing that they are coming after you, and all you can do is hope you have enough power to make it through the night. Different strokes for different folks.

Of course, after awhile, one gets used to it which leads to

2. They're blissfully short. Comparative to most other horror games, FNaF is fairly short. Depending on your level of skill, you can have the game cleared in a matter of a few hours. This is good, because if it went on any longer then they currently do, it would certainly get stale. However, the creator seems to have found the sweet spot of not being so short to not be worth the money, but not long enough to outwear it's welcome.

3. By the time you reach the end, it's not about the scares. It's about the challenge. By the time you reach the extra nights, the jumpscares aren't scary anymore. It becomes more about seeing if you -can- survive, despite the difficulty. People that do 4/20 or Golden Freddy mode don't do it for the scares. They do it to see if they can do it. It demands perfection, and like any game that's difficult, while it's a pain in the ass trying and failing again and again, once you accomplish it, hell yeah.

4. It has interesting story. You have to read between the lines for a lot of it, explore (via your cameras) for it, but the story is rather dark and tragic once you figure it out.

As you can tell, I'm a bit of a fan. However, I will say that I hope it ends with 3. It -is- starting to carry on a bit, and I'd like the series to wrap up before it -does- get too stale. Cool the one guy hit it big on the series, but it might be time to move on, at least with a completely different setting/story.

I agree with Yahtzee on this one. No FNAF for me - I've got better horror games to play that don't involve me just sitting in a chair listening to a guy talking over a phone, checking cameras, and waiting to be pounced. Let me at the bastards!

I would like to argue that there strung out, anticipation of the jump scare and resulting death is Not the climax of the game. It's when the clock clicks over to 6am and you get that little music and the cheer. That, I feel is the point of the game. Struggling not against an inevitable jump scare, like how Paranormal Activity was, and even Blair Witch, but the pseudo struggle to the finish line. It's different than 2D Horror Films because in film the scare is inevitable, but here it can be fought and won against. However, on the same hand, stripping the fear of the jump scare and the strung out environment of the game does leave it a sort of lacking, methodical; left, right, left, right, door, kind of thing. I see your point, but disagree. However I do agree that the "game" portion of the game is fairly forgettable, the victory that comes with it is not.

Thanatos2k:

Snip

If you start applying logic to horror games/movies or video games in general you're gonna have a bad time. Rather than grumble about how unrealistic everything is, it's far more fun to come up with theories why things are the way they are. (Security guard is criminal on parole, REALLY needs the money, can't find work anywhere else, etc) The game leaves most of this stuff to your imagination intentionally.

I don't take issue with the job itself. Same with Slender as I said in that other post. They're willing to do whatever hell the game throws at them. It's more of a bad taste brought on once we're in the horrifying position.

In fact my last post makes me hope somebody makes a FNaF style game where you can take the iPad with you and hide. I think that would be cool and add another layer of horror to the mix (as well as adding a bit to the logic which is always nice). Maybe hiding outside means that more power is used up because the iPad is further away.

Evonisia:
In fact my last post makes me hope somebody makes a FNaF style game where you can take the iPad with you and hide. I think that would be cool and add another layer of horror to the mix (as well as adding a bit to the logic which is always nice). Maybe hiding outside means that more power is used up because the iPad is further away.

The second game kind of has just that: You hide (by putting on a mask). You also got infinite power due the sequel being set before the first and the company not being in financial trouble - but you also got to deal with two other defense mechanics as well and all three of them are mutually exclusive to each other and each animatronic is only fooled by one (most by the mask, one by the music box and one by the flashlight).
And only god (or the ONE developer) knows what the mechanic of the third game is going to be. And yes, there is a third game already in the work, coming probably Feburary.

Also, there is no iPad (considering the games are set in 1993 and 1987, respectively) so it is just a monitor that can be folded up and down, so there is no "leaving the building with it"

Bindal:
Snip

I call it that for similarity, it would only be completely valid if the character sat on the toilet at some point (probably nearby that dead Freddy), as iPads exist only for the purpose of playing video games on the toilet regardless of what year you're in.

Well yeah, the second game has the mask, that's reasonably close I suppose. Oh and by outside I meant The Office, not the building, sorry.

Evonisia:

Bindal:
Snip

I call it that for similarity, it would only be completely valid if the character sat on the toilet at some point (probably nearby that dead Freddy), as iPads exist only for the purpose of playing video games on the toilet regardless of what year you're in.

Well yeah, the second game has the mask, that's reasonably close I suppose. Oh and by outside I meant The Office, not the building, sorry.

Which would be rather suicidal to leave as in both games, the office is so far the safest place for two reasons:
1. It has the cameras (giving you your ONLY option to see everywhere without being seen)
2. It's the room furthest away from the stage, the startingpoint of most animatronics.
And in the first game, you also got the doors on top of that.

The best Halloween haunted houses I've ever been in were a mixture of horror elements, not limited to jumpscares, creep-factor, psychological horror (rooms that felt alternately huge and confining simultaneously), and such. That is how you do horror. When there is only a single mechanic that a horror-situation hinges on, such as a jumpscare, the whole purpose loses the subtlety of horror done right. Its cheap scares. Jumpscares are just easy horror tropes, and to me using them repeatedly with little else to go with it is poor writing.

FNAF has some interesting mechanics and is by all accounts well made, but watching a few playthroughs has made me think of the weakest haunted houses I've visited that relied on mostly jumpscares and nothing else. Its a sign of a single-minded creative direction, that doesn't really appreciate the full spectrum of interlocking things that makes up a horror scene.

I did dig into the wiki a bit, and the underlying plot and stuff is quite fascinating but it feels extraneously done and overshadowed by rinse-repeat jumpscares. Were the developers to blend the more creepy and psychologically fucked parts of the backstory and plot into the narrative without being broken by game-over jumpscares... then I'd say its successful as a horror game and not just mediocre.

FNAF's plot is overrated, which is to say there isn't any. 90% of it is bread crumbs being left entirely to the audience to figure out, which to me is one extreme of lazy storytelling (the other being rigid canon that punishes "bad choices" with "bad endings" and so on).

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