Review: Little Nightmares.
Developer: Tarsier Studios
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Genre: Horror, Platformer
Creepy, Grotesque and fun. The long-awaited horror platformer Little Nightmares is finally here. Originally going by the title ‘Hunger’, Little Nightmares packs every fear your inner child has and compresses it into one horrific, yet extremely thrilling experience.
I normally avoid horror games, not because I can’t appreciate them, but more so that they work a little too well on me – I get scared of them quite easily. Despite still very much being a horror title, Little Nightmares still managed to draw me into the world of the game due to its ambiguous and unique narrative. The game is dark, grim and full of creepy imagery, but it is still leaves the player feeling empowered after they overcome their horrific journey.
The story in Little Nightmares is an unusual one, and it’s told in a vague way. Instead of a cutscene-heavy, dialogue-laden narrative, the game opens with a bizarre single cutscene. A lone woman stands there with her back to you, when she turns, it is revealed she is wearing a mask to cover her face, her hair worn up in a geisha-like fashion, the screen then fades to black. After this short cutscene you awaken on the Maw, a mainly under water vessel used for the capture of children, this includes the main character Six. the Maw is a location that rich and powerful people from around the world go to feed their uncontrollable hunger and take part in all kinds of ungodly behavior. unfortunately the game gives little insight into the Maw or as to its reason for existing, it is only through researching the game via other sources that I was able to find the truth about this horrifying location. the first level of the game takes place inside The Prison, but because of its highly unusual narrative (and its even more bizarre delivery), it’s difficult to elaborate on key story events – lest I spoil the experience for you! I will say this though: the story, while mysterious and vague, is one that hooked me from start to finish. It might not be the most satisfying, but it is one that I had to see through until the end.
With no briefing on the game’s story or characters, players are simply dropped into game. Cast as Six, players will have to navigate a number of eery environments, avoid and defeat grisly enemies, and solve a number of puzzles before they complete their harrowing tale. Immediately noticeable, is the game’s art style, which feels as though it has been heavily inspired by the work of Tim Burton and other Gothic cinema. The game is dark, very dark, and players will barely begin to feel familiar with the controls before they encounter corpses hanging from the ceilings, deformed, disgusting gluttonous people, and other horrors. Perhaps this is more like one of Tim Burton’s nightmares.
The game’s level design is decent, though I believe it will fail to remain memorable as it isn’t exactly the most unique. Cages, leaking pipes, and grimy walls all do a serviceable job of both creeping out the player and functioning as the level’s scenery, as do the creaking floorboards and spooky porcelain doll faces, but unfortunately these are all backdrop environments we have seen before.
Even the sound track of this horrific title send chills up your spine. As you travel throughout the dark levels sometimes the only sound you hear is the pitter patter of Six’s tiny feet and the howl of the empty wind blowing past. Other times the eerie tunes of what only be described as a broken music box raise anxiety levels and certainly made my heart race a million miles an hour.
Thrust straight into the darkness, the developers made an interesting choice in not offering any control tutorial. Personally, I found this to be interesting as it forced me to navigate both the dark gritty world of Little Nightmares while experimenting with what each button did. Unfortunately, after already teaching myself how to climb, the game decided that I mustn’t have been climbing well enough, and as if to help me, Little Nightmares chose to be generous and explain how climbing worked. This happened a few times with aspects like running, swinging, and jumping from a rope, mechanics I had discovered well before the game explained them to me.
Using nothing but your wits and occasionally your trusty lighter, hide, run, and solve puzzles as you carefully descend deeper into darkness, attempting to find a way back to the light. The puzzles throughout the game, whilst interesting, weren’t exactly challenging as much as they felt like they were designed to make you fail a number of times before you found the correct timing, allowing you to continue on your dark journey throughout the maw.
Averaging $30 at retail stores, Little Nightmares is definitely worth its modest price tag, only having a few hours of gameplay throughout the game but having a story that is intriguing enough to go back and replay again a few times. I see Little Nightmares becoming a game that I frequently try and speed run trying to beat my previous times as it is so damn fun and challenging.
|Little Nightmares is an interesting title, though a little light on narrative. Despite this, it still manages to draw players in with its unique and creepy imagery. A must play for fans of the genre.||3.8 3.8 ( on 5 rating)|