Don’t let the cute exterior nature of the lead character Six mislead you, Little Nightmares may cause just that. It’s decrepit setting combined with clever environmental storytelling slowly reveals the twisted nature of what’s really going on inside The Maw. Best of all you can now take these scares with you, as the Little Nightmares: Complete Edition has just launched on the Nintendo Switch.
In Little Nightmares you play as Six, a young girl who wakes up trapped inside a mysterious vessel known only as The Maw. How did she get there? What is going on here? How do I get out? These are the questions you’ll have to look to find answers to as you play through the suspense filled Little Nightmares.
The overall tone of the game could be described as Limbo meets Coraline, cliche I know as the game seems to be very inspired by Limbo in both it’s gameplay and storytelling but it really is the best way to describe the dark, twisted setting of Little Nightmares. This had me sold after just watching the first trailer for the game as I love both of the aforementioned properties and developer’s, Tarsier did not disappoint as they’ve delivered a game set in a murky, decaying vessel with a behind the scenes mystery that will have many players talking about what really happens inside The Maw for years.
A lot of Little Nightmares is downright terrifying. Perhaps Tarsier’s true intention was to recreate the childhood fears many of their players would have had inside the game. The fear of someone watching when walking down dark hallways, the feeling of always being followed and so on. The game doesn’t go for cheap frights via jump scares though. It’s scariness comes from the overall uneasy feeling the environments provide and are enhanced by the moments of pure terror felt after being spotted by one of the hideous creatures that call The Maw home.
Little Nightmares is a puzzle platformer game and most of it’s area’s have you manoeuvring around the room looking for the way out to progress to the next area of The Maw. Some stages require simple tasks to complete such as dragging a chair over to a wall to reach an off the ground exit. Others require more advanced puzzle solving skills and may need you to find a key in an adjacent room and then sneak it back to the locked door, avoiding traps along the way and staying out of sight of one or more of the grotesque creatures trying to capture Six.
I found many of the puzzles to be really well designed, often requiring clever uses of the games existing run, sneak, grab and lighting mechanics to solve. The difficulty of said puzzles was also well handled. Easing the player into the concepts before throwing a few harder puzzles at you in each of the chapters. None were too difficult but some did require a few attempts to solve, and upon doing so you wonder why you didn’t see the solution straight away.
With the platforming and puzzle solving being the prime gameplay of Little Nightmares, it’s a shame it has some issues in these area’s. Because grabbing is it’s own manual action in the game Six doesn’t auto grab at the movable objects when close enough, instead you’ll find yourself painstakingly trying to find the right edge or section of the object to grab onto to perform certain actions with it, and because of the moody, dark nature of the game, finding the correct depth in the environment can be a challenge. Needing to be so precise can lead to some unfair death’s while being chased. In a game that already has the blood pressure raised I could do without the added frustration.
And there will be deaths. And that’s fine, it’s all part of the trial and error process of working out the best approach to many of the puzzles. There isn’t much of a penalty for dying other than having to restart that section of the chapter again. The real thing that will prevent you from wanting to get caught are the lengthy load times. Upon dying you’ll be presented with a black loading screen that will take anywhere between 20-30 seconds to re-spawn you back to try again. It may be more noticeable because the screen is completely blank for that time, but it definitely had me trying my best not to die to avoid having to wait for another go.
The Complete Edition on the Nintendo Switch includes the ‘Secrets of the Maw’ DLC. This includes 3 additional add-ons to the core game that have you play as a new character the ‘Runaway Kid’, another child that has been captured and now resides on The Maw. These expansions include brand new area’s and puzzles to explore and provide another perspective on the main journey you played through as Six.
The Switch version also runs great performance wise. I didn’t run into any framerate or technical issues but did notice that the game has had a slight visual downgrade to run on the system compared to it’s release from last year on the PS4, Xbox One and PC.
If you’re looking for a fun, thought provoking platformer and don’t mind dealing with some unsettling scares, Little Nightmares: Complete Edition will be a welcome addition to your Switch. The game’s dialogue free, environmental storytelling will have you thinking about it long after you put it down. It captures a sense of horror currently not found in other game’s for the system. Never giving you a chance to feel safe, never knowing if the next room will lead to an encounter with it’s creatures. And with all the DLC bundled in, it’s the best way to enjoy the full Little Nightmares experience.
A Nintendo Switch review code was provided by Bandai Namco Australia for the purpose of this review.