The first time I saw anything about this game it gave me the vibe of being some sort of Little Big Planet game directed by Tim Burton. That alone has quite some potential so of course I was intrigued.
Of course, after getting more information on the game and now that I’ve even got my hands on the final product, I know that definition isn’t the most accurate. But the game we have here is still quite intriguing indeed.
Little Nightmares is a horror puzzle platformer. As I was playing it, it reminded me quite a bit of the great Inside by Playdead. The basic controls are that you move around, you jump and you can also hold onto stuff and crawl. This game however lets you move freely in 3D enviroments though the architecture of the environments will remind you of that of a doll house, a very twisted doll house though.
Puzzles aren’t as predominant as in Inside’s though. Little Nightmares will ask you to use your brains to advance but most of the time it’s just to avoid the lethal encounters with other characters. Yes, Little Nightmares focuses more on stealth than just finding ways to open the next door. That design decision not bad per se, if anything, it gives the gameplay a deeper layer of meaning as the will to survive is something we can all relate to.
You’re this mysterious kid with a yellow raincoat. You wake up from a nightmare and find yourself trapped in some sort of prison boat with other little creatures and some very scary adults that are willing to kill you (and eat you). That is the premise for Little Nightmares but honestly, this is the kind of game which the story is less important than the world it creates.
That’s not to say that there isn’t any kind of character progression of sorts but if I had to explain it (which I won’t, no spoilers) I could summarize it in a single sentence. You could say that the weight of the game has been put more on the lore part. Discovering the grotesque Universe that the developers of this game have imagined, figuring out the underlaid stories of the characters and places you visit by simple exploration.
I found the game’s graphics to be perfect or… almost perfect. Like it usually happens, it’s more scary to imagine something than to actually see it and that can be applied to some of the foes here. The world though is magnificent. Great gothic designs and a superb lighting usage. The creators of this game have built a world that’s horrible and enticing at the same time. What you see may be ugly and twisted but you can’t help but to feel drawn into it. It’s whimsical sometimes but in a very dark way.
The audio department is great as well. Since the game has this focus on stealth gameplay, the developers put into place some very useful sound cues to let you know when you’re about to get spotted. Also, the noises of the creatures trying to hunt you down can be even more chilling than their own appearances. The game’s soundtrack would be like the cherry on top of this magnific product. It’s underplayed for immersion but whenever the tracks hit they can be very powerful.
Things I liked
- Tense: Mixing stealth with horror is a great idea and we can consider it a proven formula but it has to be done right. Here, the stealth elements are turned into little puzzles and, while it’s fun to play, you’ll feel the tension grow on you quite a bit. The enemies you’ll find in Little Nightmares are quite scary and you certainly won’t want them to catch you.
- Gore-less: This is the kind of game that wouldn’t gross out your mother but it could very much mentally scar your son. Unlike Inside, the deaths here aren’t as graphic but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel as powerful which, to me, is remarkable.
- AV Quality: AKA the game looks great and also sounds great. The design of the environments and the “characters” is spot on and so it is the great soundtrack which, lucky me, came packed in with the six (collector’s) edition of the game.
- Animations: Your character’s animations are pretty good but I’m actually mostly talking about the enemies here. Their animations are really fluid but at the same time they sometimes have an uncanny movement that makes their appearance even more frightening.
Things I didn’t
- Short: You could say that this is a testament on how much I enjoyed the game that after I finished it I just wanted more, but it’s not just that. The game is a little over three hours long which for the reduced asking price isn’t that bad but it is true that the last two chapters of the game are way shorter than the first two which kinda gave me a rushed impression.
Who’d like this?
The time I had with Little Nightmares I really loved. The game plays well, it’s a very cool concept on its own and, above all, it knows how to get under your skin. If you like horror games and puzzle platformers, you’ll have quite a nightmare with this one (in a good way).
It has to be said though that the game is indeed 3 hours so have that in mind.