You’re in some crazy prison with no way out and you’re only equipped with a lighter. You don’t know what the f*ck is going on and you’re scared. Sounds like the plot of some super convoluted horror movie, right? Tarsier Studios’ Little Nightmares is that and yet it isn’t.
Game Name: Little Nightmares
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher(s): Bandai Namco Entertainment
Developer(s): Tarsier Studios
Release Date: April 28, 2017
Price: $19.99 (Six Edition – $29.99)
Infuriatingly beautiful. These are the exact words that anyone can use to describe Little Nightmares. Taking the role of Six, a hooded girl stuck in a giant floating prison complex known simply as “The Maw,” you must make your way out with only your wits and a lighter to guide your way through. To really round out the experience, just imagine yourself in the role of a child who has nary an idea how they got where they are.
What makes this concept amazing is the simplicity that belies it. It’s a puzzle platformer in its purest form. You simply are solving puzzles while making your way through the complex. However, the thing that sets this game apart from most others is the usage of depth of field. Six is a small girl. I mean, Six is SMALL. Everything is enormous to her, and as such, you must change the way you think about the environment to really get past some of the more difficult puzzles out there. Tarsier Studios performs this in spades and it is glorious (no Bobby Roode pun intended.)
As a 2.5D puzzle platformer, while you are afforded some movement up and down the z-axis, it’s not much, and you can find yourself falling from some unexpected places. That’s the design of the game and with the added lack of light that you’ll be dealing with, Little Nightmares may end up being a nightmare for those not prepared for the experience.
The horror aspect of the game shouldn’t be disregarded either, although it doesn’t read as a horror type game. It’s more of a game of psychological hide-and-go-seek. And yes, before you go batshit crazy, allow me to explain. You will be startled by the different enemies that show up. However, the thrill of the discoveries made me think, even before knowing how they would discover me. It encourages strategy, yet it invites you to be scared out of your wits. The little sound that is in the game adds to the thriller-like atmosphere, giving off a feel of “I have no idea what’s gonna happen around that bend.” It’s what I call the perfect storm in psychological video gaming. A big kudos to Tarsier Studios for crafting Little Nightmares the way they did.
However, there are some little annoyances that I did have with the title. The camera can be more of a hindrance than it can be assistive. Checkpoints are very inconsistent, and the load times are a mess. All of these make those death moments all the more annoying as you start to progress deeper in the game. I found myself switching over to other games just to take a mental break before coming back as a result. This can turn many gamers off, but if you’re crazy enough to handle it, props to you. The game isn’t very long, however, lasting a paltry 4 – 6 hours, dependent how exploratory you are, despite that, it’s a fun experience that should be had at least once.
*Little Nightmares was provided to us by Bandai Namco Entertainment America for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
Little Nightmares is an amazing experience, albeit there are some things that are left to be desired. However, for a first attempt by the studio that gave us Little Big Planet content, as well as Tearaway Unfolded, Little Nightmares is an easily recommended time-killing adventure.