Little Nightmares Review

Today we see the release of Little Nightmares, developed by Tarsier Studios and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. Tarsier Studios is probably better known for their work on the much cuter Little Big Planet series. Knowing that it is probably a little harder to realise the Little Nightmares is a genuine horror game. I’m talking old school horror though, not this jump out and scream at you horror we see now, Little Nightmares lives up to its name. It is a nightmare, it uses the atmosphere, and specific sounds and timing to have you constantly on edge. You feel a sense of loneliness, dread and above all else helplessness.

You play as Six, from what I can tell you’re a little girl in a bright yellow rain coat. Armed only with a lighter you have to creep, crawl, run, slide and jump your way through the dark world. Little Nightmares does little to confirm plot details from what I have played so far. You are on a ship called The Maw, a vessel full of horrific creatures each one striving for their next meal and sometimes you are on the menu. The Maw itself is impressively detailed. There is a big stealth element which Little Nightmares storybook style visuals are modelled perfectly and lit accordingly to benefit that. Each room rocks slightly from side to side giving you a feeling of seasickness further enhancing the overall unsettling atmosphere.

This is a side scrolling platformer/puzzler, but you move around in a 3D space, pulling objects around to help you reach switches, open doors or reach new areas. The Maw is divided into 5 areas, each area has its own theme, including the cargo area, a toy room and a kitchen each with its own type of monster to match. The toy room, the games second chapter was what got to me, all I will say is, creatures with freakishly long arms, that are blind and lash out when they hear the sound from Six’s little feet when she walks on creaky surfaces.

Unlike other games in this genre, Little Nightmares is surprisingly colourful, and no not just the yellow of Six’s rain coat. The kitchen for instance is well lit, with splashes of blood and yellows and greens, but when the game is dark you know its dark for a reason, Six either needs a place to hide or she may need to light it herself. Some of the most edge of your seat moments I encountered were early on where I had to light a room myself. Only to find that when Six flicked that little lighter into gear not only did it light up the room, but showed off the creatures who dwelled within the darkness giving them my exact location.

For the full experience you really need to immerse yourself. Play it at night, play with either headphones on or a good surround sound cranked. Little Nightmares uses sound perfectly. It has every creak and scratch down perfectly, and the scream Six lets out when you die is downright blood curdling. 
I expected to find the puzzles repetitive after a few hours of play but Little Nightmares has a way of keeping you on your toes. The game style will change from needing to evade the larger dangers to an environmental puzzle, each one making sure you think outside of the box. As you progress through it seems that you can spend less time being stealthy and you start to speed up in favour of keeping Six out of danger.

Controls are good and tight but I was using a controller. Be for warned, while there is an auto-save feature in place, it doesn’t save in places you will think, more than once I found myself back much further than expected.

While little Nightmares may be a relatively simple game, it is by far an easy one. A lot of puzzles are learnt simply by working out how not to do them first. You will fail, and you will fail often but that failure is where your sense of achievement comes from. After all, it doesn’t mean anything if you didn’t have to work hard to get it. 

Overall the visual style is what drew me to Little Nightmares and I have to say I am not disappointed. Expect your playthrough to be finished after 5-6 hours which really is about where it needs to be. There is a chance to play through again for collectables but only the most dedicated will. 
Little Nightmares is a something to be experienced. The feeling of dread and helplessness that comes from playing as a child plays on you long after the controller is down. 

Available now on PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Pat (Snoogan512/Snoogs)

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