Is Security Breach the beginning of the end for Five Nights at Freddy’s?

By Ela Heeley

Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach, is the tenth instalment in the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise, and the first free-roam release in the series. It also marks the first time we’ve really seen the influence of developers Steel Wool Studios, taking the wheel from original creator Scott Cawthon. As the long-awaited return to the world of Freddy Fazbear, Security Breach has reignited the interest of FNAF fans worldwide. But, there’s just something about this game that leaves you feeling short-changed. 

The December 2021 cross-platform release sees you, the player, take on the role of Gregory – a mysterious twelve-year-old boy – as you try to survive until 6am in the oversized nightmare mall that is Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Plex. Aside from Gregory, the game features an abundance of new animatronic characters and fresh takes on old favourites, such as Glamrock Freddy, Vanny, and my personal favourite – the Daycare Attendant. As for the Pizza Plex itself, its visual appeal is undeniable. Every inch of the map is stunning; it’s somewhere between a Zelda and a Cyberpunk. The Pizza Plex has multiple floors complete with interactive rooms, minigames, and storyline secrets, all illuminated in shiny colours and 80s aesthetics. 

Security Breach is less violent than its horror genre predecessors, but there’s a lot more plot packed into this massive 80GB game. Certainly, Security Breach takes an entirely original approach to the Five Nights at Freddy’s title. The overt jumpscares of the past are replaced with a more subtle horror, with exceptional levels of animation and storytelling for the genre, and gone are the point-and-click mechanics of previous chapters – you’re on your feet, with ten-foot-tall, possessed animatronics after you constantly.

The gameplay is certainly the most ambitious as of yet. You can run, crouch, hide and pick up collectibles, with save points and cut scenes throughout. There’s also a map, an objectives menu, cameras, a stamina bar, recharge stations… There’s a lot to keep track of. All sounding absolutely wonderful so far, right? It would have been – if any of this was adequately explained in the narration. Where Security Breach really lets itself down is how it pulls all of these elements together. Glamrock Freddy’s sparse hints do little to explain your objectives, meaning you can easily run around for hours trying to figure out your next move. 

Aside from the questionable instructions, it’s filled with off-putting glitches that stop you from progressing. Animatronics teleport and get stuck, killing the unnerving, tense ambience that was intrinsic to the game’s success. Once you reach a certain point you also lose the ability to save, rendering any further progress completely useless if you make a minor mistake, or if your game bugs out (and it does, often). There was one part in particular when I had to undo 30 minutes of gameplay mid-boss fight because of a faulty game mechanic. Previous FNAF instalments have, at points, walked the line between challenging and just plain frustrating – Security Breach is pretty consistently the latter. 

I love the potential this latest game has, evidenced by its visuals and in the gameplay itself. But I can’t help but feel that after nearly eight years of content, the cult series is just ever so slightly past its prime. With developer Cawthon retired, Five Nights at Freddy’s seems to have lost its heart, and its self-awareness. It feels rushed to make a quick profit at the expense of optimisation and polish. Ultimately, not even the adaptive music and quality voice acting could distract from the parts of Security Breach that don’t near the standard the series has established. 

As someone who’s been around since the first beta of game number one, it’s a shame to see such a groundbreaking title miss the mark like Five Nights at Freddy’s has with Security Breach. At best, it is a fun, tangentially connected addition to the franchise’s lore. At worst, it’s a buggy, gratuitous studio game that has lost touch with its original audience. I’m willing to call this one an unfortunate exception. But I fear if the franchise continues down this road, its legacy will not be one of innovation, but one of disappointment.

If anyone is interested in reviewing Games, please do get in touch at review.flipside@lsesu.org. Games are a new area for us but with the popularity of virtual reality games, we are looking to develop more content in this area.

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