Once upon a time I stood at the foot of my bed, blanket clutched in my hands as I gazed terrified down an unlit hallway. I could have sworn that I had seen something move in the darkness, unhampered by the limitations of the watchful gaze of the parents who who would otherwise protect me.
It was a reflection in the hallway window directly opposite me. It was definitely a person, leaning towards my doorframe, waiting for me to fall asleep before they could snatch me away. I took one step closer, quaking with fear as my foot came down with an almighty creaaaaaaak of the floorboards. I had been 6 years old, and I was absolutely convinced that I wouldn’t live to see seven. I crept further still, peeking into the hall beyond the sanctuary of my bed, desperately frightened to see the face of an unidentified assailant come down upon me.
It was a stepladder. Unmistakably a stepladder. In the imagination of my 6-year-old self though? It was something infinitely worse.
16 years on, and that fear hasn’t left me. I am now 22 and the monsters within (and beyond) the bedroom are scarier than ever. All thanks to Scott Cawthon.
VOLUME WARNING: This video contains screaming and sudden noises, so please turn down your volume to a comfortable level before clicking play. Thank you!
Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 is quite unlike any horror game I’ve ever played, and is a far-cry from the FNAF games of old (can it really be phrased that way? The entire series is less than a year old.) The biggest change is that it’s slower. More atmospheric. The key to this game is sound. To simply slam the door and ignore your senses is to invite those bumps in the night into your room, under your skin. This game abandons the camera checking of the previous installments, instead opting to replace the adult security guards and Fazbear employees with a young child scared witless of the monsters within his own home. You must run from door to door and listen - closely - to the sounds in the hallway. Is that breathing you hear? Slam the door shut. Shine your flashlight and it’s very much lights out.
It’s times like these that we would retire beneath the sanctity of our sheets, invisible, invincible against anything scary that may lurk beyond the realms of our young realities. True to Scott Cawthon fashion however, the bed is only another element of the nightmare, housing a very real threat should it be forgotten. Always check the bed. Do not forget the BED.
This, coupled with the doors, the flashlights and the deafening pounding of your own heart is a mechanic that’s very hard to master, deviously difficult to tune into. How does a monster of steel and fibreglass casing breathe anyhow? What does that sound like? I don’t know. Truly. I just want to go to bed.
It’s too late, anyway. The monsters beyond the minute safety of my bedroom kingdom were just too quick.
It’s only Night 1.