Little Nightmares is a surprising game. It combines creepy and exuberant art with vivid and innocent colors. It’s a very short experience but a satisfying one.
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4 & Windows 10
Release date: April 28th
Platform Reviewed: Xbox One
Price: $19.99 / 19.99€ / £14.99
Developed by a little studio called Tarsier Studios, in collaboration with Bandai Namco Entertainment, Little Nightmares promises to be a unique game that explores the fears from our infancy. If you’re looking for an Outlast or Resident Evil-style of horror, let me just say this game is nothing like that. It is, however, an absolutely unsettling experience throughout the entire campaign, particularly at the end, which was my favorite portion of the game.
In Little Nightmares, you assume the role of a nine-year-old named Six and embark on a journey to escape The Maw, a vast, mysterious vessel that is home to monstrous and corrupted creatures looking for their next meal. This immersive world appears to be part dream and part nightmare, and Six has to cautiously navigate each of the various rooms and cells, making sure to get out of harm’s way and find freedom once and for all. Your character has a lighter to help you cross through gloomy and mysterious sections. Your main goal is to escape your “little nightmares” using environmental objects, rather than the old-fashioned way of attacking them. There isn’t much to say about the storyline besides what you have just read. It’s a bare-bones-at-most plot that fell short; an attempt to make you feel something other than being trapped in a creepy, dark and unsettling environment.
One of the aspects that made me appreciate this little game was the way it makes you think how you are going to solve a puzzle. Some sections have fairly easy puzzles while others require a little bit of time to crack. Unlike other games, Little Nightmares isn’t frustrating. Each level was made to ensure the player acquires more knowledge to decipher a determined puzzle, giving you a motive to pursue rather than just quit. While I appreciated the physics and the constant presence of the puzzles, some game mechanics aren’t its strongest suit. The fact you need to press the jump button to climb obstacles instead being a natural move like in most platform games drew me off a bit from the experience.
Checkpoints are sometimes a hit and miss action, especially during the first half of the game, prompting you to redo unnecessary sections; however, I noticed they were much better balanced during the second half. The campaign will take you about three to five hours to complete depending on your platforming prowess. It’s a relatively small game that offers no replay value at all, which makes the $19.99 price tag seem a bit steep.
Other than that, it’s a mix between Unravel and Limbo/Inside. If you like their gameplay, Little Nightmares will feel natural to you.
Graphics and Sound
At the graphics level, Little Nightmares is surprisingly detailed, with excellent lightning effects complementing its striking art style. There were few instances in the kitchen section I was stoked with the visuals Tarsier Studios has managed to squeeze in. The soundtrack gives the game a darker tone making each level unique, plus the enemy sounds are freakishly scary, especially when the twins’ cooks spot you and rush to kill you. It’s a sound that will haunt you for a while.
Little Nightmares is a surprising game. It combines creepy and exuberant art with vivid and innocent colors. It’s a very short experience but a satisfying one. If you absolutely love these kinds of games I say pull the trigger, otherwise, wait for a sale or rent it in a local store.