I hate horror games. I was a pussy as kid, I still am a pussy as an adult. That deep fear for all things nasty, gruesome and lurky stems from my childhood. My earliest memory of feeling real fear, was sneaking out of bed in the very early 90’s, and peeking around the edge of the back of the couch and secretly watching Friday the 13th, while my parents thought I was snoozing away. I think I slept with the light on for a week. ‘Little nightmares’ plays on those sort of innocent fears.
‘Little Nightmares’ developed by Tasier Studios in correlation with Bandai Namco is a stealth driven horror, puzzle platformer which will have you dragging and using objects to solve problems while jumping, climbing, sprinting and diving for cover in the scariest games of Hide and Seek you will ever play. Despite the name, it has a BIG amount of anxiety inducing, panic attacking scares that definitely tap into your own childhood fears.
Little Nightmares centres on the travels of the beautifully yellow rain coated, fragile and starving, nine year old known as Six. Little is known about the background of this definitely cute and interesting character. What we do know is, is that she is stuck in the nightmarish submarine-like vessel ‘The Maw’ crewed by some dastardly, deformed people. These people, the spider like ‘Janitor’ with super sensitive smell and impossibly long arms, ‘The chefs’ a pair of twisted pig faced cooks in charge of the worst kitchen in the world and finally ‘The Lady’, are all adversaries that often require an expert chase of cat and mouse, as poor Six has no tools to really fight back. Who is Six? How she got there? What does she have to do with the tale unfolding? These questions drive you through the story but do not disappoint when they unfortunately are not answered, only implied at the end.
When I say implied that means observing your surroundings for clues to the unspoken tale. There is no narrative or dialogue, so absolutely everything is down to observation and coming to your own conclusions. It’s not hard to absorb every aspect however as the fleshed out surroundings and the oozing amount of detail in each environment is unnervingly captivating. Tim Burton would have a field day in this dark, dank and eerie atmosphere. Every detail is painstakingly and intricately grim. Whether it be the array of discarded objects, that like a child would think are fun to play with but useless in the situation, blood sucking leeches dangling in wait from the dripping pipes above or the extensive detail put into the characters themselves.
Everywhere you go Six is the contrast. Six shines brightly against the dull, 1920ish era furnishings of the rooms. Six is also the extremely small but strong physically and mental force that battles her way through a world that towers around her. Compared to her every object seems truly colossal, just like her task to escape. Even The Maw, her dungeon, rocks gently back and forth compared to the high tension, anxiety inducing chase scenes, to remind you once again if you do get out, where will you do next?
Although very reminiscent of ‘Limbo’ and ‘Inside’ (and it has been compared to it A LOT online) in the sense that it is also revolved around a child in the grips of terror, Little Nightmares however goes deeper into the layers of fears that shape us and is oh so much better at evolving the child like dread in an adult soul. The lack of any music throughout the game, means environmental sounds rule this domain. A too creaky floorboard could be your undoing in a sneaking scenario, or knocking a ladle and spoons and the clanging could attract a chef worst that Gordon Ramsey. Even the shrieks from the characters when they discover you, will send shivers down your spine and panic levels high.
Little Nightmares is one of the best games I have played this year, its simple plot but perfectly executed gameplay make it one memorable experience. It left me thinking much like the end credits… What do you really do once you have overcome a fear… wait for the next?
- Simple, Well Executed Plot
- Great Gameplay
- Still Scary