It’s not often that I get to combine two of my loves into a single post. But lo and behold, bless Scott Cawthon and his desire to tell stories, because he’s helped create a book in a world with better lore than the next six games (besides UNDERTALE) put together.
Needless to say, this review may not make a lot of sense to you if you are not familiar with the underlying games that make up the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise. I do believe the book can stand on its own, but knowing the world helps. The premise, in its broadest form, is that there was one a pizzeria chain called Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, not dissimilar to Chuck E Cheese’s. Legend has it that someone used one of the animatronic suits to lure children into a back room, murder them, and then hide the bodies in the other suits. The spirits of the children now haunt the suits, and in the games, you play the night guard (?) that the animatronics are trying to kill.
If you’d like to read on, feel free. If not, the tl;dr is that I loved the book and am even more intently determined to figure out the mysteries of the world. I gave it 5*. THERE ARE SPOILERS BENEATH THE CUT. But if you live on the Internet like me, you may have already seen these.
Now we get down to the nitty gritty, and this is where I think it gets a bit odd. Not in terms of the book, but of what I’ve seen said about it. Luckily, I think I can attack both at once, so let’s see what I can do.
There are a lot of complaints/comments about how “canon” the story is, and how it fits into the timeline, etc.
I’ve almost seen as many people accept that this isn’t quite “canon” as there are people griping that the book Didn’t Answer Their Questions about the games. My response: Scott outright told us it wasn’t going to give us answers. Also, for everyone insisting it’s not canon, Scott also said that it was canon, inasmuch as any of the video games are. The book is a retelling of the original story, and as such, it’s not going to match up perfectly. This isn’t meant to answer all the unsolved mysteries of the games. Where would be the fun in that?
However, I do think that we get some answers, at least in some regard, from the book. The thing about a retelling, or even an alternate universe, is that some things remain the same. So I can potentially assume that some of the basics in this book are actually canon to the timeline in the games. I can believe that Henry (the protagonist Charlie’s father) was the owner of Fazbear Family Diner, the original location of these beasties, and ran it with his business partner William Afton. (More on him later.) I can believe that he had twin children, and it was the disappearance and presumed death of one of them that drove him away from the Diner and to later create Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza in a different town. I can believe that Henry met his end exactly the way the book describes he did. (More on THAT later.) And I can believe even that Dave wanders around the hidden site at night, much like our character might, and lurks like a creeper. Do the actual events happen, like Charlie and her friends coming back to town? Maybe not. But then again, who’s to say that the security guard moments of the games actually happened either…?
What I really find interesting are the pieces that might actually be answers/clues. For example, let’s look at William Afton, co-owner of the Fazbear franchise. Where Henry was the creative mind, the creator of the animatronics and the heart of the operation, William was the business mind. He also seems to be a wee bit shady over the course of the time we hear about him–and from the first, we’re told that Charlie (and whoever she’s with; I can’t remember) recognize the face, despite Charlie remembering very little from her youth in the Diner. This is of course because they’ve seen William before–lurking around the old pizzeria and calling himself Dave the night guard. Dave the one who abducted their friend and shoved him in a springlock suit. Dave the one who abducted Charlie’s twin brother. Dave the Purple Guy of game lore. Yes, it’s the co-owner of the franchise who is also killing the children. A+ choice on partner, Henry. Finally being given a name for the Purple Guy is huge in terms of lore. Even if there’s nothing in the games at present to point to it, it’s still a new piece of information for our arsenal.
WHICH BRINGS ME TO THIS.
Let’s look at FNAF World, the “ill-fated” spinoff game from the horror franchise. It’s a happy fun time wandering through an over-world gone wrong, trying to find friends and fix problems. The music is upbeat and cheerful; the graphics are bubbly and kid-friendly. Everything the original games aren’t–though I’ll point out, it’s likely what the actual locations are likely trying to be. FNAF2 shows us that with the toy animatronics.
I say ill-fated in quotes because yes, the fanbase at large panned the game. It’s a complete departure from what anyone expected, and it’s not even close to what we thought we wanted. None of us had any clue what Scott thought he was doing when he put out the game. But I don’t believe that’s true. If he truly thought it was a failure, he would have stopped after he took it off Steam and made it free. Who needs to update a failed game? No one. And yet, FNAF World has seen at least two major updates, I believe. And they’re not insignificant ones.
At the end of Update 2, we’re presented with a black-and-white scene of a man at a desk, seemingly working. We know him as the Creator–popularly presumed to be a representation of Scott himself. The Creator talks about a creation gone terribly wrong, and how he’s lost the ability to fix the problem. He calls it “Baby.” After a few more phrases of monologue, the screen goes black, two eyes appear in the corner, and a harrowing voice over informs us “The show will begin momentarily. Everyone, please stay in your seats.” When the lights come up, the Creator is dead on the desk, bleeding out. Dramatic.
While believing this to be Scott being disheartened by the flop of FNAF World itself, I believe that MatPat and the Game Theorists got it right: this isn’t Scott–it’s Henry. Henry, the creator of the animatronics. The one who let his creations get away from him–and the one who in the book, died via suicide-by-animatronic. Important note: it wasn’t an animatronic Charlie recognized, which means it’s none of the core cast from the Diner or Freddy’s Pizza.
FAST FORWARD TO NOW. We’re getting trailers for Sister Location, the upcoming FNAF game Scott’s working on. The main animatronic? Circus Baby, whose first trailer has the same “Everyone please remain in your seats” line from World. AND…if you look in the source code for the home page on Scott’s website, we see an allusion to something called “Afton Robotics.”
Afton. William…Afton. Hmmmmm.
Who still wants to say we haven’t gotten any answers from the book? I’ll posit that we now have more questions than we started with, but I’m not willing to toss Silver Eyes under the bus.
Is it perfectly written? No. It’s a little choppy and awkward at times, but I’m okay with that. Charlie is an unreliable narrator, which gives a chunk of leeway to the writing style. (Also, anyone blaming Scott for this…I’m not sure you understand how ghost-writing works.) I don’t know anything about Kira Breed-Wrisley, but she kept me compelled through the story, and had me if not on the edge of my seat, at least up reading into the wee hours of the night because I needed to know what happened next. I loved seeing into the potential creation of the venues and animatronics, and getting a closer look at the inner workings of the lore. It gave me a chance to see more of Scott’s vision of the world, and that, for a creator, is one of the best things I can imagine. Scott’s a storyteller, and he’s got a lot up in his head, I’m sure. I think this was a fine way to get it out.
And I’ve never been more excited for Sister Location to come out.
Rating: ***** (Highest Recommendation)