Five Nights at Freddy's is among one of the only horror series in the world that can make cutesy animatronics secretly twisted and viscous and somehow get away with it. Ever since Scott Cawthon first brought the series to PC in 2014, Fazbear and friends have developed into media giants—poster children, even, in the world of horror and the gaming industry, in general.
Nearly a decade later, and there are still no signs of Cawthon's horrifying creation drawing to a conclusion. With so many chapters laced between the decade, though, there is one burning question that often pops up from time to time: which games have wound up being known for their scare factor? If we had to put our two cents on it, then the rankings would look a little something like this.
5. Five Nights at Freddy's 4
Five Nights at Freddy's 4 took all of the core gameplay elements that made the first three games the all-round horror powerhouses that they were, and then continued to build on them by bringing a certain free-roam format to the table. As a result of this, the fourth entry wound up being one of the most interactive entries in the series to date, which alone gave it a sturdier leg to stand on. And scare-wise, it was definitely punching high compared to its alternatives —especially its later instalments.
In Five Nights at Freddy's 4, you control a young boy who's essentially given the task of outlasting the shadows and demonic animatronics that stalk the halls of his home. Over several hours, you must outsmart the bots by using your flashlight at the right times, and checking closet doors and hallways for signs of any trespassers. And, just like the other games, one wrong judgement can lead to drastic and, more often than not, fatal consequences. Is it scary? Fairly. Will it give you an alluring sense of paranoia? Absolutely.
4. Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach
Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach marks the latest and supposedly greatest entry in Scott Cawthon's portfolio—a status which feels deserved, given its swift change in direction and overall gameplay mechanics. But in spite of the title steering more towards being an open-world game, it still didn't change the fact that Freddy Fazbear and friends were just as is, if not more terrifying than ever before.
Of course, the goal behind Security Breach remains mostly the same. As a young boy named Gregory, you must roam the supposedly vacant halls of a prominent shopping centre while waiting for morning to come. To make it through the night, however, you must go toe-to-toe with not only a night security guard, but the army of loose animatronics that aimlessly wander its darkest nooks and crannies. Immersive? Yes. The scariest Five Nights at Freddy's game you'll ever play? Not exactly. But it does come fairly close, though.
3. Five Nights at Freddy's 2
Mechanically, Five Nights at Freddy's 2 was leaps and bounds ahead of the original, mostly due to the fact that players could finally “fight back” against the animatronics, rather than cowardly hide behind locked doors until the batteries drained. And it's because of this newfound ability to take the fight back to Freddy's homeland that the overall difficulty increased by a considerable amount. But in spite of this, the jump scares never really faltered. If anything, they doubled in size, and actually gave the player far more to worry about.
In Five Nights at Freddy's 2, you take on the roll of a night guard at yet another pizzeria chain. This time, however, there are more doors to hawk over, vents to examine, and cameras to check. And, not to mention the jack-in-the-box that needs winding up, as well as the Freddy Fazbear mask that needs putting on whenever certain enemies steer your way. Due to the sheer amount of tasks that you need to remember in every shift, Five Nights at Freddy's 2 isn't only nerve-wracking, but ridiculously terrifying for all the right reasons.
2. Five Nights at Freddy's
Five Nights at Freddy's first made its debut back in 2014, a time during which PC gamers still had the taste of SCP : Containment Breach still hot on their tongues. In the immediate aftermath of the newly formed horror franchise, Freddy Fazbear went on to become the poster child of Steam, which, in turn, allowed Cawthon a bunch of wriggle room to create an entire media empire. And if it wasn't for the first games' infinite scares and media recognition on streaming sites like YouTube, it never would've taken off the way that it did. But, you know, it did. And then some.
Granted, the first Five Nights at Freddy's game isn't the most complex in terms of gameplay mechanics. And yet, it is still one of the scariest, and perhaps the most unpredictable of the whole bunch. With only two doors, two light switches, a camera feed, and a limited supply of power to keep track of, it becomes more the case of sitting alone in the dark, counting down the hours and hoping that nothing heads your way to seal your fate. But it's those long, dark, and frustratingly gruelling hours that make the original Five Nights at Freddy's for what it is. It's textbook suspense and horror, and we're all for it.
1. Five Nights at Freddy's: Help Wanted
Alright, so technically this one is cheating, as it actually bundles up the first five games in the Five Nights at Freddy's series and optimizes them for virtual reality. Nevertheless, Help Wanted boasts all the best scares that span an entire generation of horror and puts you, the headset-wearing VR user, front an center for a feast of frightening encounters with the entire pizzeria roster, including but not limited to Freddy Fazbear himself.
Help Wanted gives you the keys to unlock endless hours of horrifying and deeply immersive experiences, all of which ramp up the overall fear factor and make each jump scare as spine-tingling as the next. And so, if you're able to get your hands on either a PlayStation VR or an Oculus Quest, then there's no doubt about it; Five Nights at Freddy's: Help Wanted is an absolute essential purchase for any library.
So, what's your take? Do you agree with our top five? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.