“Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach” Mixes Good Gameplay with Overambition

After a long wait, the newest FNAF game has come out, with the gameplay and story taking a turn.

Bobby Liming and Grae Stockhausen

The Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise started in 2014, when the first game was released by Scott Cawthon, the main developer. The first game was released in August of 2014 and featured four characters – which would become some of the most popular characters of the series. In this first game, the player is a night security guard at a family pizza restaurant called “Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza,” hired to watch over the four animatronics: Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie, Chica, and Foxy. They move around at night, and hunt down the player to, essentially, kill them. Through the game, you must watch cameras and manage doors, all without draining the power to the building. The game has a total of five nights, each night increasing in difficulty. 


Since this initial release, there would be a wide series of continuous releases as a response to the massive cult following that was gained almost instantly, almost all of which following this same format with specific changes being made to the gameplay to change up some of the repetitivity of the style, each to a varying degree of success.


On August 8, 2019, Cawthon posted a teaser image for the tenth installment of the series on his website. The teaser showed Freddy, Chica, and two new characters, all in a retro, 80s style, playing for a crowd inside of a shopping mall. Later revealed to be called the “Glamrock” animatronics (each game gives a different name to the specific style of animatronic models to that game), these characters have an oddly-cartoonish polish to them. Though it looks great, the horror aspect of their designs are substituted for extreme polish and incredibly clean appearances. After over two years of pushbacks, and the release of one teaser trailer, a new website would surface. This website, called “Security Breach TV,” was launched for the sole purpose of building up to an official release date for the upcoming game, Security Breach. During the Playstation State of Play on October 27, the final trailer with these new animatronic characters, gameplay, and final release date.


It’s also worth noting that during that two year period, as the result of pushback from the fanbase due to political actions taken on the part of the developer, Cawthon announced he would be taking a major step back from the series, stating that he has largely retired, only working in the background on the game for the rest of the time. Though The Sandscript does not intend to commentate on this directly, it’s still noteworthy, considering that this means that this game was largely developed by the independent game company Steel Wool Studios. This studio seems to have major control over the direction of the games now, and was even a major hand in creating the previous, VR-based game in the series, Help Wanted, which is widely considered to be the most intense and scary game in the entire series to date. This largely seemed to be a reason for concern going into this game. Though their first game in the series was incredibly successful, there remained a legitimate worry as to whether or not the company, on its own, could develop the game with little in the way of direction from the original creator. The answer to this question of the quality of the game, unfortunately, seems to be a mixture of positive key elements, layered over with negatives that take away from these good qualities.


The game starts with a music-video-like scene of the four Glamrock characters performing for a crowd in the Pizzaplex over an instrumental that has clear 80’s rock and pop influence, especially tracks like Van Halen’s “Jump.” Halfway through the performance, Freddy malfunctions on-stage and shuts down. Despite how cleanly polished this cutscene looks, the rest of the game doesn’t hold up by comparison. Though the graphics do get better as the game goes on, they generally don’t hold a candle to what was promised by both this and the trailers. Security Breach, the first FNaF game with ray tracing capabilities (a capability of some high-end computers to gain better lighting in games that support it), has been almost unplayable to anyone who has attempted to activate these graphic effects due to the large amount of framerate drops and lag. Plus, the cartoonish nature of the style, especially this early on in the game, makes the characters feel incredibly fake and unnatural, in a way that feels more awkward than scary. This, later, gets improved on, with the animatronics becoming more and more worn down and damaged as the night progresses.


The animatronic later wakes in his room and meets a boy, named Gregory, who is hiding inside a stomach compartment inside the robot. Gregory, the character you play as for the game, reveals that he is trying to hide from the security guard, Vanessa, who is assumed to be trying to help find his parents. The animatronics, as they speak, seem to have the same goal based on their dialogue, but attack, and, obviously, jumpscare the player. Freddy’s programming, though, seems to be different from the other animatronics (presumably due to the opening cutscene), and is actively trying to help Gregory survive in the mall throughout the night after he gets trapped in after closing. 


Gregory, in an attempt to get high-level security badges, which are required to access certain parts of the mall, goes from room to room in the mall, continuously unlocking more areas as the game goes on. This pattern in the game starts when Gregory enters the Daycare, where he meets a sun-themed, friendly daycare assistant who insists that you must keep the lights on at all times. After finding the badge, a power outage is triggered, and this sun animatronic is forced to turn into his evil, moon-themed counterpart. The player must manage to turn the power back on by accessing the five generators hidden inside a “jungle-gym” setup and ends up getting kicked out by the sun after the encounter is over. This sequence, despite the oddity of having power generators inside of a playplace, is easily the most intense point of the entire game. Not only is the character design horrifying, and the jumpscare genuinely one of the only effective ones in the entire game, but the gameplay itself is incredibly well done, and is the right level of challenging when the gameplay is as it should be.


But, the issue with this, is that the gameplay in this game is almost never as it should be. Not only did I have an issue where the animatronic from this section clipped out and made it impossible to lose, but bugs of the same caliber, some of which were fully game-breaking, plagued the entire game. For example, there are gates that sometimes need to be broken down in order to progress, but, you must first break and disassemble a specific animatronic, the alligator named Monty, in order to do this. However, this is a point in the game where you can choose which route you want to go down, essentially picking which animatronic you want to destroy. If you pick the other option, however, you can no longer break the gate, and the run is almost entirely ruined unless you glitch through. Which, yes, you can glitch through. Other examples of more minor bugs include a maze puzzle that has instructions that, quite literally, are completely false and aren’t the solution to the puzzle at all. In fact, the moon daycare attendant hunts the player down now, at every hour, according to the game. The argument for this is that the power is cut at the mall every hour, and you have to access a specific point on the map with Freddy in order to avoid this. But, not only can the attendant randomly teleport and kill you out of the blue, but the dynamic of him appearing every hour isn’t even consistent. Just the next hour, for example, this doesn’t happen at all. 


Later in the game, Gregory is found by the main antagonist of the game, Vanny. Vanny, rather than being animatronic, is a person inside of a cloth-based suit who, very clearly, has murderous intent, and is alluded to be some form of an alternate persona for Vannessa, the security guard (despite some of the endings suggesting otherwise, towards an idea of them being two separate people, other endings and the general consensus of the fanbase is that the two are one in the same). However, there are also several problems with her as a villain. Mainly, despite her being teased since the very beginning of the promotion for Security Breach, she very rarely appears in the game. In fact, she, without exaggeration, doesn’t get any more than 10 minutes of screen time in this incredibly huge, 80 GB, over 10-hour long gameplay. The reason for this is actually a glitch in and of itself – people who dug into the source code discovered that she is actually meant to appear when the player spends too long in a singular era. This, seemingly, didn’t pan out due to an error with the game.


However, despite these negatives, there are still some incredible moments and sequences that happen throughout the game. At a certain point, Freddy is captured by the Daycare Attendant, which ends up leaving Gregory alone to find his way through a series of tunnels in the bottom of the mall; an endoskeleton-littered basement. These characters, which are meant to be the inner robot mechanisms of the animatronics without the casing, are some of the most intense and disturbing models of the entire game. So far, in order to get from one place to another, the player has had to avoid being seen by animatronics and security robots that hunt the player down actively. However, with no warning, the gameplay style suddenly switches here, forcing you to adapt to a new form of gameplay with almost no information. Instead of this dynamic, the player must look towards the active animatronics, which chase the player only as they look away, otherwise standing in place. This switch from having to stay out of the line of sight to being forced to look directly at the thing that is about to attack you is a horrifying setup and makes progressing difficult, but genuinely fun to play through. 


Yet another fantastic moment is when Gregory battles the hilariously over-the-top character DJ Music Man – a gigantic, spider-like, DJ animatronic. The battle involves being chased around an arcade while DJMM, as he is referred to in the game to shorten it, appears in and out of incredibly large vents throughout the area. Large rock music blasts in the background, and you have to hunt down a way to stop the fight. It’s an incredibly upbeat, intense, and high-stakes boss that has a strong atmosphere and fun gameplay. Once he is done battling Music Man, Gregory then decommissions Roxy for her eyes, taking them from her to enhance Freddy in a similar way to what was needed to open gates, as mentioned before. After this, the doors open, and the clock strikes 6:00. The doors open, and when you reach the front entrance, Gregory is given the choice to either leave the Pizzaplex, or continue to look into the mysteries of Vanny, who is responsible for the missing children’s cases in the mall. However, depending on the route you have taken at this point, Freddy and Gregory shouldn’t know Vanny’s name at this point, and there was never a mention of missing children being involved until the very end, where the characters suddenly know about these events due to an oversight. 


A major problem with the game, and likely the biggest issue with the game as a whole, though, has gone unmentioned until now. This game uses a save function that uses save stations around the mall. Though the only real problem with this at first was the fact that the “scare” factor has less to do with unsettling feelings and horror, and more of the fear of simply losing your progress – the real problem begins after 6:00. When you choose to say, these save options are completely disabled, and if you lose, you are automatically returned to the start of 6 AM. Depending on the ending you choose, though there is still hours of gameplay to go through at this point, and the fact that you automatically lose your progress if you quit the game or die, it makes the game completely unfun to go through, and serves solely as a fake and unnecessary way to increase the difficulty for no other reason than “they just want to.” It’s incredibly annoying at best, and, at worst, completely shows no respect to the player, who put hours of effort into getting to the ending in the first place.


The endings of the game are as follows:

  1.  If you leave through the front doors, it is revealed that Gregory is actually a homeless orphan, and returns to a cardboard box on the street, where Vanny finds him and murders him. 
  2. If Gregory decides to leave through the loading dock, he can take Freddy with him and they ride off in a company car. When Freddy gets low on battery, Gregory uses the car to charge Freddy when he runs out of battery. 
  3. When a certain number of collectibles have been collected and Freddy is completely upgraded, they both burn the flammable plushies in the mall and leave from the roof, only to encounter Vanessa. Freddy tackles Vanny off the roof and it is revealed that Vanny is a human who looks exactly like Vanessa but also shows Vanessa herself in the building still. A news article is then shown that the Pizzaplex has burnt down.
  4. If the player chooses to find and attack Vanny, Vanny will order the S.T.A.F.F. bots to disassemble Freddy, leaving Gregory on his own to take down the murderous rabbit. He manages to grab the device that allows Vanny to control animatronics and uses it to rip apart Vanny. Rushing to Freddy, Gregory listens to the last words of encouragement from Freddy before he shuts down. An article appears that the Pizzaplex has shut down but will return next season. 
  5. Scattered around the mall are three old-school eight-bit arcade machines that follow the storyline of Princess Quest. If you complete all three, instead of destroying Vanny, the bunny mask appears on the ground with all the S.T.A.F.F. bots deactivated. The next slide is of a remorseful Vanessa, Gregory, and Freddy’s head sitting on a hill, looking at the sunrise.
  6. If Freddy is fully upgraded and you choose to stay, you are able to find the burned-down pizza place from a previous game in the series.. Upon finding this, Gregory and Freddy will have to fight off William Afton’s spirit in the “Burntrap” suit – as well as Chica, Roxy, Monty, and “The Blob,” which is an amalgamation of old animatronics. This battle causes the ruins to burn down again, and while Freddy and Gregory are running, the Blob takes Afton away, leaving both of their fates unknown. Freddy and Gregory run out of the Pizzaplex and are next seen on a hill watching the sunrise. 

Even with the game being released, the gameplay needs some tweaking. When Security Breach was first released, it seemed odd for the player to be able to have open-map access. This change was greeted with different reactions all around, but what makes such an idea irritating is how glitchy it ended up. The animatronics can get stuck, animatronics will teleport on top of the player, or the player character and animatronics will phase through walls completely. This game was clearly rushed to be released and wasn’t thoroughly checked for bugs and glitches. Another issue with the game has to do with the subtitles. Sometimes subtitles from a completely different part of the game will play, or they won’t play at all. Lines will be also attributed to the wrong speaker, and sometimes the subtitles will cut out simply because another roaming character is speaking in the background. The game is very laggy, and the high-definition graphics require an incredibly high-end PC to run, as those with even generally good PCs, even gaming YouTubers who have some of the best PCs on the market, experience lag. All in all, the game needs many bug updates, and shouldn’t have been released until such updates were implemented. The game was most likely released in this state because they were crunched with time, didn’t want to disappoint the fanbase further, and suffered greatly from the high ambitions of the studio for the size of this game. The gameplay also doesn’t feel like a real FNAF game, just because of the open map ability and an absurd amount of ineffective jump scares that leave you more frustrated than scared. Five Nights at Freddy’s is normally a very jumpscare-filled game anyway, but, without being limited to only a few positions like you are in many of the other games, it feels less scary. The new characters add more depth to the lore and give fans more to love about the game and its many animatronics, however, which is a major strong point for the game. It certainly doesn’t feel like this will be the end of the franchise, but could be the only open-world game that will be produced by them. Hopefully, though, the game continues to update and becomes much better as development continues.