Little Nightmares, developed by Tarsier Studios, is a game that really caught my attention when the first trailer was released. It looked very different from any other horror game I had seen. I was intrigued by Little Nightmares, and I felt that this game could really pull me in. After playing through the complete edition on the Nintendo Switch, I can honestly say it pulled me in, but it was a hard pull.

Puzzles In The Dark

Little Nightmare’s starts by introducing Six. Six, is a young girl who must make her way through a gigantic ship called The Maw. The game styles itself with an “Alice in Wonderland” look. What this means is that you are much smaller than everything else in the world. You will see that all the objects around you are much bigger than you. You’re basically playing from a mouse size perspective. This is a really unique premise, and it works well with the game’s atmosphere.

Throughout your journey, you will navigate your way through many different obstacles that take some puzzle solving, but none of then pose an overwhelming challenge. For the most part, you will simply be moving around items to position them so you can jump up onto a dresser, or to reach a handle. The puzzles are fun, and there’s enough variety to make them feel interesting.

Scary Monsters & A Strange Story

Eventually, different grotesque beings will appear in the world, and you will have to find different ways of getting around each one. Each chapter has its own character that you will have to protect yourself from. This usually involves sneaking around the levels or distracting them with something while you run to your objective. There are times, where you will be unable to hide from them, and it will start a cat and mouse style chase. These characters are usually quite fast, and you will have to react quickly once these segments begin.

Many seemed to enjoy the open ended story Little Nightmares presented to players, but I felt it was too open ended. I could never grasp the reason for anything I was doing through the entirety of the game. The DLC did do a decent job at explaining, and connecting, a bit more of the game’s story. However, even with the DLC, all I knew was that I had to avoid death, but what else? What was the goal? How did we get here? Where did these grotesque beings come from? I had so many questions, and I felt everything was still far too vague to just leave up to interpretation. This might be more acceptable if they announce a sequel but, even still, the open ended story wasn’t overly compelling.

Extras

Scattered throughout Little Nightmares’ world, are a few collectibles you can find, as bonus objectives. There are lanterns, and candles to light, gnomes to hug, and statues to break. Seriously, those are the three different collectibles that you will find during your journey. On other consoles, there are achievements for finding each of these. On the Switch however, the only reason is for the sake of completing the game.

The DLC that was added with the complete edition let’s you play as another character who is a runaway boy. The DLC helps contribute to what story you can make out of Little Nightmares, and the locations in the chapter are really nice. Unfortunately, it barely adds to the games length, which is a shame because Little Nightmares could certainly use more content.

World of Nightmares?

Little Nightmares’ world is engrossing. The environment is the strongest part of the roughly 5 hour journey. Every part of the game’s settings are dripping with character. The rooms are filled with mundane things, yet this mundane look is what drives the overarching feeling of isolation. You are alone in this world to fend for yourself, nothing is there to save you from the dangers that lurk.

The grotesque characters are amazingly designed. They are designed as some of the most disgusting looking creatures I have ever seen in a video game.

With an immersive world like this, Little Nightmares sets you up for a tense experience that will have your heart constantly racing. I mean you would think that, anyway. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Even during some of Little Nightmares moments of sneaking around, or running away, the feeling of distress just isn’t there. They build up the atmosphere of each level so well, that you think it’s going to be a tense, and scary experience, but it really isn’t.

A Run in the Dark

Chases feel pretty mediocre, and usually go by fast, which doesn’t give them enough time to build that feeling of fear, and intensity. Even a longer chase, like when you’re being chased by a group of large grotesque people through a hallway, just doesn’t feel tense like it should. Eventually, the grotesque characters end up being overused, and don’t feel threatening anymore. When you do get caught, there’s no gruesome death or terrifying feeling of “what’s going to happen to me?”

Little Nightmares does a great job at building an eerie, and uncomfortable atmosphere, along with solid level designs. However, I ended up being let down, each time, by some flawed execution of a chase, or a pop up segment. Let me reiterate… Little Nightmares world felt very eerie, but it lacked the tense momments that the game needs in order to pull off what it’s trying to accomplish.

The sound effects in Little Nightmares were fine, and felt like they were a positive addition to each of the environments. They felt well placed for the most part, and I wish there would have been even more.

Technically Dark

From a technical standpoint, Little Nightmares runs fairly well on the Switch. The game’s resolution is pretty good, in both handheld, and docked mode. One problem I did come across was while playing in handheld mode. Some of the parts in the levels are very dark, which is magnified by the Switch’s small screen. It made it difficult to figure out what I was doing sometimes, which could get really frustrating after awhile.

Frame rate is stable in both modes, with only a few hiccups, mostly in handheld mode. The load times on the Switch version of Little Nightmares are unfortunately, very long. Similar loading time problems were felt on other consoles, but it’s unfortunate that they weren’t fixed for the Switch release. Considering it did come out a year after its original release, this is pretty disappointing.

The Controls in Little Nightmares are another concern because they feel really “sticky”. When you grab on to something, it can be hard to let go of it. This is especially felt when you have to grab hold of something, and then jump to another platform, from it. The controls are just not as responsive as I feel they should have been, especially with the heavy amount of platforming.

Conclusion

Little Nightmares has a very well designed world that will immerse you into it as soon as you enter the game. It has fun puzzles, and great environments to go through.

On the downside, the long load times, lack of tense moments, uninteresting interactions with the characters, and sticky controls, make this not quite the experience that I was expecting.

Little Nightmares was fun, but it’s not worth its price point. I only recommend Little Nightmares when it’s available at a 50% discount, minimum. While the world is breath taking, the gameplay inside this world isn’t enough to justify its short length.

6/10  3D Platformer Recommended on a Discount

An Erie, but heavily flawed Adventure

Pros

  • Fun Puzzle Design
  • Beautiful World
  • Eerie Atmosphere
  • Amazing Character Design

Cons

  • Short Length
  • Poorly Executed Interactions With Characters
  • Story Was Too Open Ended
  • Sticky Controls
  • Hard to See Some Parts in Handheld Mode
  • Builds Tension but then It Quickly Fizzles Out

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