Another post where gaming nerd and writing nerd intertwine!
I have previously written about how impressed I was by Five Nights At Freddy's 2, and the story it revealed, and how that story was developed and displayed.
Five Nights At Freddy's 4, though, is a bit of a puzzle, to me and to the fandom in general. Today I saw someone replaying it, and now that I've seen the rest of the game I put things together. My own personal life experiences gave me insight into it. It's been a bit of a revelation, and I have to share it somewhere, so I'm throwing it at you people.
The little boy who is the protagonist of FNAF4 is physically and emotionally abused by someone who lives in his home, presumably an older brother. This becomes very clear towards the end of the game, especially when said brother and friends stuff the kid into an animatronic's mouth and it kills/maims the poor boy.
But at the beginning of the game, this wasn't clear yet. I didn't have the perspective to know what I was seeing. Now I understand that the cutscenes are all about abuse. The first day just seemed weird. There's talk about him locking himself in his room, but he tries to get out and can't, and cries.
What happened is, his older brother locked him in, and told his parents that he's throwing a tantrum. On two of the days, his brother jumps out at him wearing a Foxy animatronic head. The child is terrified of big, clunky animatronics, and people in suits that can pass for them. His older brother uses this to terrorize him, including abandoning him at Freddy Fazbear's so the child can stew in terror. The child isn't afraid of the characters. He has Freddy toys and loves them. He's afraid of animatronics, and if you think about it, that's not a very surprising or unreasonable fear for a small child!
So, putting all that together was nice, but it wasn't the big thing. Once I knew all that, it let me answer one of the biggest questions in the Five Nights At Freddy's series:
What the Hell is going on in the FNAF4 gameplay? What is this supposed to represent? It's not believable that horrible nightmare versions of the animatronics are attacking the kid at night. Are these nightmares? Visions from the afterlife?
Nope. FNAF4 is a physically abused child simulator. I have been there. I try to talk around the abuse issues of my childhood, because people would get the wrong impression and think my parents (good, loving people, who I like and am grateful to) abused me. I certainly don't feel like dragging out all the details to the public.
But suffice it to say, I spent the years of the boy in this game in a household with a physical abuser, as the primary victim. I can tell you that the game perfectly, beautifully represents what this feels like. Your parents are gone, and you know, you KNOW, he's coming to get you. If you can see it coming, you can hold it off for a little while. Nothing is safe, the abuser is a giant monster, and you can be attacked from any direction at any time. In this child's case, the abuser is a distorted vaguely cartoony death robot, who prefers to leap out at him from surprise rather than attacking directly. He's, like, five. That's what this looks like to him.
(I have no proof, but it would fit a lot of things together if the older brother worked at Fazbear's.)
This is grim stuff, but they're grim games and the final cutscene of FNAF4 is one of the most grim things in any game. I'm incredibly relieved to have solved a mystery and that I now understand the last, weirdest entry. With any luck, at least someone who reads my blog will also understand and be satisfied.