Written By: Bernard Julius Paje
Title: Little Nightmares
Developer: Tarsier Studios
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment
Little Nightmares is a platformer slash puzzle game developed by Tarsier Studios that lets you assume the role of a hooded yellow little girl named Six who suddenly wakes up alone in a dark and gloomy place called the Maw. Armed with only a lighter, your goal is to help her escape this place where she is trapped in. Everything around her is full of mystery, and as you guide her around the eerie set pieces of the game you will slowly piece together exactly where she is and what she is up against. And sadly for her, everybody in this place just seems intent on capturing her, making your role to navigate the game’s world a tense and frightening experience at best. The overarching story is also portrayed without any dialog whatsoever but is told very well and naturally unfolds during the game.
Graphically, the environments in the game are mostly dark and dreary. A lot of the games areas are intentionally unlit, forcing you to rely on your lighter to find your bearings. The lighting in the game when you have your lighter turned on is very cool, making me turn it on at every possible opportunity to admire how the light from it casts the shadow of everything in the room realistically. The art style of the game is also very Tim Burton-esque, with the game’s characters having a creepy and somewhat cute (but disgusting) vibe.
The soundtrack of the game is minimalistic, relying mostly on ambient and environmental sounds to set the overall tone of the game. Some enemies will react or notice you if you make too much noise, so you must try to avoid making too much noise if possible. Tense and scary music will play if you do get spotted or chased by enemies though, and the sudden heartbeat-like vibration your controller makes during these situations adds to the intensity of the experience.
If you played and loved games like Limbo and Inside, then you are in for a treat because the gameplay of Little Nightmares is very much similar to those two games. Puzzles in the game are mostly in the vein of finding an item you need to progress (like a key for a locked door or a crank for a shaft). Getting said items are not a simple task though, because almost all the time you have to be stealthy and avoid various foes that are normally just minding their own business but will instantly be intent on killing you once you get spotted. And if you do get spotted, make sure you run away and get to a hiding place fast or face the wrath of your captors. There are also some intense chase sequences that will keep you on your feet. The starts of these encounters are also mostly accompanied by a jump scare, which will definitely get your blood pumping. There are also some ‘I did not see that coming’ moments near the end of the game, and if you are squeamish and/or easily scared these scenes may slightly disturb you (and give you more than just little nightmares).
It will take you around three hours or so to get to the end on your first playthrough, and then a couple more to find all the collectibles. If you are a completionist and want to get all of the game’s achievements, you also need to do a speedrun of the game and finish it within an hour without dying.
If you like to play platforming and puzzle games and are a fan of a mystery and horror, then Little Nightmares is for you. The amount of content it has is just spot on. And while there is some replay value in the form of collectibles and a mandatory speedrun to get all achievements, players who only want to experience the story may choose to skip these and not miss out on anything major. Little Nightmares is definitely a contender for one of 2017’s best indie games.
- Eerie atmosphere and intense chase gameplay moments
- Good use of lighting and ambient sounds
- Chilling and somewhat disturbing story (if you are mostly into horror experiences)
- Relies on collectibles and speedrunning to extend gameplay length
- Minimal use of music
- Chilling and somewhat disturbing story (if you are NOT into horror experiences)