There a lot of video games that seem to be made to play at Halloween; there’s no better way to get into the October spirit than a couple of Amnesia custom stories. But are there that many games made for Christmas that aren’t DLC for non-Christmassy games. Well, there’s Elf Bowling, if you’re one of the few people who remember that, Batman: Arkham Origins, Five Nights at Freddy’s…
‘Wait, what?’ I hear you say.
Five Nights at Freddy’s is an indie game created by Scott Cawthon. In it, you play as the night watchman of a pizza place which uses animatronic animals – Freddy the bear, Bonnie the rabbit, Chica the duck-like chick and Foxy the fan-favourite pirate fox – to entertain the children. At night, though, they come alive and wander around the pizzeria, killing all humans they come across, and you have to keep them out of your office. The game enjoyed a phenomenal amount of popularity, and in only a few months, a sequel was released. Again, you played a security guard working the night shift at a pizza place, only we had over twice the amount of animatronics, with two Freddies, two Bonnies, et al (for every animatronic from the first game, there’s a new version and an old version that had been kept in storage) and a creepy puppet that you had to soothe with a music box.
‘But that doesn’t sound very Christmassy!’ I hear you say. From those of you who have played the games I hear, ‘But both took place in November!’
Yes, and which month is when most shops put up their tree and turn on the Christmas lights? Which month is it when some people start buying presents? Some people playing Freddy’s wonder why the protagonist would keep coming back to work for the pizza place when he almost gets killed every night. You wanna know why? He’s trying to get some extra money for Christmas shopping. How heartwarming! Not only is he buying presents for his family early, he risks his life at the hands of disturbing animal animatronics just to make money to buy those presents! Sure, Gift of the Magi was touching, but I don’t remember any evil robot pirate foxes.
Plus the games are littered with tonnes of Christmas imagery. The title character is a teddy bear, for (Black) Pete’s sake. Not only that, but when the old Freddy kills you in the sequel, he looks like a Nutcracker. The sequel not only has a giant doll with candy cane arms as a villain, but a doll that lives in a giant gift box and, according to the drawings found about the pizzeria and a minigame, gives presents to the kids. Chica is a chicken, and what do you eat at Christmas when you can’t get turkey? We also have a fox and a rabbit, little woodland creatures you see on Christmas cards and South Park Christmas specials.
In the first game, newspaper articles about five children being killed at the pizzeria sporadically appear on the walls, and the sequel introduces a series of Atari-style minigames based around this. This has led to a theory that the animatronics, the old ones at least, are the way they are because they are possessed by the spirits of the dead kids. So, not counting the mysterious and rare “Golden Freddy”, the first game has the protagonist dealing with four ghosts. Isn’t there a famous Christmas story about four ghosts?
In fact, the four main animatronics in Freddy’s do have similarities to the ghosts of A Christmas Carol…
- Jacob Marley takes off the bandage around his head and his jaw drops to his breast. Foxy’s mouth is perpetually hung open and does seem to reach to his breast.
- In the first game, Foxy is the only animatronic you see coming through the door, while the other three materialise into the security guard’s office. Marley is the only ghost Scrooge saw coming through his door while the others simply materialised before him, and Present was waiting for him in another room.
- When Foxy leaves his “Pirate Cove” to go to the office, the sign outside the Cove changes from “Out of Order” to “It’s Me”. When Marley haunted Scrooge, Scrooge’s doorknocker and fireplace tiles change to Marley’s face.
- In both games, Foxy’s suit is rotting away, allowing you to see his exoskeleton. Says Dickens, Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley had no bowels, but he had never believed it until now.
- Foxy’s counterpart in the sequel, “The Mangle”, has been rendered a mix of wires and tubes by naughty children, and now resembles Marley’s chain.
Bonnie = The Ghost of Christmas Past
- Both utilise summery nature imagery. One is a rabbit, the other has a dress trimmed with flowers.
- People can’t decide whether Bonnie is a girl or a boy (he has a feminine name yet the creator says he’s male, even then there have been several fanworks with a female Bonnie); ditto for Christmas Past (in some adaptations he’s a dude, in others it’s a chick).
Chica = The Ghost of Christmas Present
- Both constantly carry around food-related items. Chica is almost never seen without a cupcake, Christmas Present is almost never seen without a Horn of Plenty.
- Christmas Present is first seen in a room filled with food, while in the first game, Chica spends a lot of time in the pizzeria’s kitchen.
- Both of them have a resemblance to Jesus. Christmas Present has a beard, a robe and a wreath on his head, and Chica, well…
Freddy = The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
- The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is the last ghost to haunt Scrooge, and in the first game, Freddy is the last to stalk the player, not moving from the stage until around the third of the five nights.
- Both of them are almost always seen in the shadows.
Also, there’s this annoying new animatronic in the sequel that resembles a creepy human child that disables your lights, and sometimes, what looks like it with different colours appears under the player character’s desk. If that means there are two “Balloon Boys”, that means Freddy’s 2 has its very own Ignorance and Want. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing is a fitting way to describe how they look, don’t you think?
The aforementioned newspaper articles that appear on the walls in Freddy’s also tell of the past (the kids getting killed), the present (the pizzeria getting complaints about the stench in the animatronics) and the future (the pizzeria is going to be closed by the end of the year). The Atari minigames in the sequel also act as more substantial visions of the past, showing a child getting killed while Freddy is serving cake, and the puppet apparently putting the souls of the dead children in the animatronics. Freddy’s 2 is actually a prequel to the first game (if you win, the newer animatronics are scrapped and the older ones are fixed up) and yet a minigame about Foxy shows the Pirate Cove from the first game, so some have theorised that it shows the future.
So does that mean the player characters in the games (the player character in the first game is a different character from the one in the second; the first game’s guard is called Mike Schmidt and the second game’s is called Jeremy Fitzgerald) act as the Scrooge in this story? Well, they both are in Bob Cratchit-esque situations. They work a horribly crappy job, and get paid minimum wage for doing so. If anything, whoever owns “Fazbear Entertainment” should be haunted.
Well, if the animatronics are possessed by murdered children, then their intended “Scrooge” should be the one who killed them. They shouldn’t waste time trying to reform him, because a kid-killing sicko is beyond such a thing, but then, showing him visions of the past would serve a purpose: showing him why he should die, and why they deserve revenge. Scrooge needed to live to prevent Tiny Tim’s death, the murderer needs to be brought to justice for causing children’s deaths.
There are two theories about the player characters and how they relate to this whole thing. One theory says that one of the player characters is the killer and is either suffering hallucinations from guilt or the ghosts are trying to get revenge on him. Another is that both player characters are innocent and that the animatronics trying to kill you is a case of mistaken identity.
In the latter case, you can play Five Nights at Freddy’s and witness what is probably the darkest, most depressing adaptation of A Christmas Carol ever made. Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas were all people murdered by Scrooge, and instead of reforming him, want him to pay for his crimes and show him why he deserves to die. And because they’re confused, they end up tormenting Bob Cratchit instead, making him pay for a crime he didn’t commit while he simply just wanted to make some extra money.