Anyone familiar with Scott Cawthon and his Five Nights at Freddy’s series knows that the man loves to release his games early – something that’s been happening since the second installment, actually. The tradition seems like it lives on with his most recent creation, the free to download Ultimate Custom Night. Originally slated for an August release, UCN dropped late this past June, and as expected the FNAF fan base has blown up with UCN videos flooding YouTube and fans racing to FNAF discussion boards to share experiences and talk lore. So I figure it’s time I partake in the festivities and give a quick briefer on this new dose of Fazbearian madness while also doing what I do best and give newcomers a quick rundown on things.
Five Nights at Recaps
If you’re unfamiliar with the FNAF franchise, the premise is pretty basic: the games feature the player usually filling in the roles as a night guard for one of the many locations associated with the Fazbear Entertainment franchise, which is basically Chuck-E-Cheese if the animatronics were designed to give children nightmares that star Freddy Fazbear the Bear, Bonnie the Bunny, Chica the Chick, and Foxy the Pirate Fox. Stuck in your office, you must employ the various tools at your disposal to keep the “malfunctioning” animatronics at bay until 6AM – fail to do so, and you’ll be met with one of the franchise’s many infamous jump scares. Scott expanded this formula somewhat in the fifth installment in the series, Sister Location, which not only added voices and original music to the series but also had a more story-driven approach; each night also featured a different task for you to work through while dealing with the animatronics stalking their underground storage space. Though that game did eventually return to the franchise roots with a hidden “boss fight” against an animatronic named Ennard and also featured an unlockable Custom Night that played like a traditional FNAF game. Scott also dipped his toe back into the RPG fray – he’d made a few RPGs prior to FNAF like Legacy of Flan and The Desolate Hope, the latter being my personal favorite of the Scott Games lineup – with Five Nights At Freddy’s World which featured cutesy cartoon-like versions of the characters. Then there’s Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Simulator, which blended traditional FNAF action at night with trying to run your very own pizzeria by day.
The games also contain a ridiculous amount of lore, which is a huge element that keeps fans coming back to the series and replaying the games to scour for any new clues. See, pieces of lore are often just presented – you might see a newspaper article, or play an 8-bit minigame where you wander a location as one of the animatronics – but nothing is ever really explained, only shown, leaving it up to you to decide what’s going on. The franchise itself is like one big, giant mystery and the community as a whole are the detectives trying to crack the code of what really is happening aside from surviving five nights. Even non-canon material like FNAF World and the novels contained bits of lore or at the very least, some explanations. Heck, Scott’s own website often played host for lore drops, as not only would he advertise the games, but he’d also drop hints that ranged from the pictures on the site to comments hidden in the site’s source code. I still remember when FNAF 4 was coming out and “87” was spruced throughout the webpage’s source code – a reference to “The Bite of 87”, a moment in the series when an animatronic bit someone’s frontal lobe off. There’s a lot of lore to swallow in this series, and it’s not uncommon for a theory to get jossed due to either new findings, or a new entry in the series, and very rarely a message from Scott himself.
Customize the Night
Some games in the franchise feature a “Custom Night” as well. First seen in FNAF 1, the “Custom Night” lets you adjust the difficulties of each of the animatronics to pretty much make your own challenge – or lack thereof, as it’s possible to set all animatronics to 1 and make them nearly docile. The biggest challenge, however, was Nightmare: set all four animatronics to level 20, earning it the alternate nickname of 4/20 mode.
Starting with FNAF 2, challenge modes were added to Custom Nights that consisted of different arrangements of animatronics at different difficulty levels – “Ladies Night” for instance would pit players primarily against the female animatronics. 4/20 mode returned as well, however, given there was now ten animatronics to deal with it was coined 10/20 mode, under the preset of Golden Freddy. Unfortunately, Custom Night would not appear in the next two games but came back in Sister Location, and rewarded players with secret cutscenes should players beat the presets on the hardest difficulty. Custom Night returns again with a vengeance following Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Simulator but this time it isn’t just Custom Night….it’s Ultimate Custom Night.
The Ultimate Challenge
So what sets UCN apart from the other previously seen Custom Nights? Well for starters, it features a whopping fifty-eight animatronics for you to contend with. Almost every bot in the series has turned up for the ultimate pizza party. Don’t believe me? See for yourself:
Now I know what you might be thinking, “Niko there’s only 50. Where’s the other eight?” Exactly, where are the other eight? Those are “secret animatronics” that may sometimes appear and may sometimes not appear – it just depends on the roll of the dice. Each animatronic is also voiced, with their own lines delivered after they successfully jump scare you to your death, and each has their own personality and method of being dealt with. But be careful! Sometimes dealing with one might activate another – for example, some animatronics come through your vent and can be pushed away with the heater, but that makes the building hotter and might activate other animatronics. Scott’s sense of humor is also intact with the animatronics, as one bot named Mr. Hippo not only spooks you but proceeds to tell you one of five of his own stories for two to four minutes. It’s also unskippable. I’ll be honest, it’s really cool hearing what kind of voices older animatronics like Bonnie and Foxy would have given that they missed the initial round of voice acting that came with Sister Location – okay, it actually started with a minigame in FNAF World, but you Fazbearians know what I mean.
Presets make a return as well, this time being termed “Challenges”, and once again we have our madcap level 20 mode…this time being 50/20 mode. Yes, people are trying to topple this titan of a trying time. There’s even a space on the select screen that shows your “Best Time” for this mode – well, best time meaning the longest you’ve survived. And once again, beating the challenges nets you bonus lore and cutscenes…including one with Japanese voices that have the wrong subtitles. As you may have guessed, Scott can be something of a troll to his fan base; just look into the “leaked” version of FNAF 3 sometime. There are also a couple of other neat features as well, such as unlockable office skins that reference past locations in the series, as well as unlockable power-ups. And you’ll need all the help you can get, as there’s not just doors and masks to keep track of but vents, power generators, musical boxes, and more; to make matters worse, a new annoying animatronic named Dee Dee might show up, sing a song, and throw a new animatronic into the mix including one of the hidden eight, so folks playing on presets beware because she’ll put a dent in your otherwise planned out night for sure.
As mentioned before, the game is free to play and download, though currently, it’s Windows-only. If you’re interested in exploring the lore of the games and are afraid that UCN might have spoilers fear not – as a Fazbear Fanatic myself I can say that any lore that’s revealed is so out of context that it wouldn’t make sense unless you’d been following along. You can check out the Steam page for the game here. I’d normally also link Scott Cawthon’s Twitter account, like so, but as you can see the man doesn’t talk much on there. Though in traditional Scott Cawthon fashion, he posts one image and fans lose their minds.
Have you played any of the FNAF games? Are you just now finding out about the franchise? Share your experiences in the comments below! As always thanks for reading, and I’ll see you all next time.