Little Nightmares Review

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Posted May 4, 2017 by Kierra Prince in Video Games

Developer: Tarsier Studios

Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment

Release Date: April 28, 2017

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One (reviewed)

Little Nightmares is an interesting puzzle-platformer. While the gameplay itself is pretty standard for the genre, the game’s atmosphere and art are wholly unique and interesting.

In Little Nightmares you play as a child seemingly trying to escape their dark and dangerous environment. There are no cutscenes or story segments. You have to piece together your experiences to determine the story at hand. Luckily, the game has plenty of atmosphere and interesting things to keep you intrigued. I’ve seen a lot of outlets calling the game “Tim Burton inspired” but to me it was much more reminiscent of something American McGee might design. It’s dark, bleak, and grotesque.

This greets you early on in the game.

The majority of the game is spent figuring out various puzzles as you navigate your surroundings and try to find freedom. Most of these puzzles are fairly common such as jumping across moving platforms or dragging items to certain locations so you can stand on them to reach levers. There are also a few stealth segments where you have to sneak past what I’ll call security cameras as they pan across a room.

And then there are the segments with enemies.

Little Nightmares excels in its character design and that’s most apparent in regards to the design of enemies. While there isn’t a wide variety of enemy types, the enemies you do see are so unique and grotesque in design that they’re sure to stick in your memory. From blindfolded men with abnormally long arms to gluttonous freaks who zoom around on the floor looking for their next snack, every enemy is memorable and freakish.

Whoops.

Unfortunately, there are a few frustrating aspects of the game that prevent it from being a perfect nightmare come to life. One of my main problems with the game is that determining the depth of things can be difficult at times. That means that a well timed jump to a rope or chain can be just a tiny bit off and you can jump in front of it or behind it and plunge to your death. Other times you may need to quickly run across a plank and if you aren’t perfectly aligned to go perfectly sideways you’ll run right off the edge and die. It’s incredibly annoying to be running towards a closing door just to run off the edge of a platform because you were ever so slightly tipped sideways. I also failed one of the security camera segments once because I got stuck on the handle of a trash can that jutted out ever so slightly.

Many of the enemy segments are also incredibly frustrating. There were times when I might play a segment the same way twice but only one instance would trigger the enemy to come looking for me. Other times there’s no warning at all that an enemy may appear. For example, at one point I hit a button for an elevator and the elevator arrived with an enemy inside. There was no warning at all and considering I had called multiple elevators at this point that didn’t have enemies, I was a sitting duck and was quickly grabbed. Basically, there’s parts where you almost certainly need to fail just to figure out what’s going to happen so you can avoid it.

Even when there’s adequate lighting the game is creepy and gloomy.

Luckily, the game is interesting enough that any frustration is usually short lived and the compulsion to keep playing just to figure out what’s going on outweighs the small problems with the gameplay. Sadly the game isn’t very long. I beat the game in 3 hours and 40 minutes, and people who are used to puzzle games could probably beat finish it even quicker as the puzzles are fairly standard.

There is some replay value with a couple of achievements/trophies that require a bit of exploring to obtain and some creative thinking. It is possible to obtain these during the first play-through though, so the replay value of the game is going to mostly depend on how thorough you are the first time.

At the end of the day though, the main draw of Little Nightmares is the fantastic world we’re dropped into and the horrifying creatures and events that we see take place. And the ending (and events leading up to it) makes all the hard work more than worth it.

If you’re a fan of puzzle-platformers or just want to spend some time in a living nightmare, then Little Nightmares is more than worth the money. The world and atmosphere of the game are sure to stick with you in this unique, and horrifying, experience.


About the Author

Kierra Prince

Was born with a controller in her hand. Fan of all things nerdy and has a tremendous amount of love for RPG's, anime, and anything horror. She secretly wishes to be a mash-up of Catwoman and Sailor Moon.