Little Nightmares (PC) Review

By Ofisil 14.05.2017

Review for Little Nightmares on PC

Many series, some of them legendary, have recently shown some pretty heavy signs of "redemption," by going back to their roots, and deciding to once again focus on gameplay, immersion, and plain ol' fun! For this change of mind, indie developers were surely responsible, and the reason for that continues to shine through gems like this recent example, the fantastically dark, survival horror fairytale called Little Nightmares, with storytelling devoid of exposition, no handholding whatsoever, and an insanely oppressive and gloomy atmosphere dripping from its every pore. After entering the darkness on the Xbox One, Cubed3 tries this out once more.

Although less puzzle-oriented than it, Little Nightmares is pretty similar to Unravel, as it's a narrative-driven puzzle-platformer where hand-holding is totally absent, both in terms understanding the plot, as well as the actual gameplay. At the same time, however, it's also the exact opposite, as it has a pretty strong, twisted fairytale kind of vibe, with its dark world feeling as if it takes place in Resident Evil 7 or something. The best comparison, though, would be Jack and the Beanstalk… if it was directed by Guillermo del Toro and Tim Barton, and with a puny and frail girl instead of an adventurous boy in the lead.

Screenshot for Little Nightmares on PC

In terms of scare factor, this looks like a horror experience aimed at the small child inside of you, as it's centred on the most basic of childhood fears; darkness, helplessness, the unknown. The mouse-sized protagonist awakes in a mysterious, bleak world, where everything is larger, stronger, and keen on eating her, and the only thing that she can do is to run and hide. Furthermore, seeing her struggle to pick even the tiniest of objects feels so genuine that the already powerful level of immersion gets even more so. Add an insane level of detail, from the way the heroine moves, to the perfect textures, sound, and lighting effects, and the result is simply beautiful.

It's not all style, however, as there's also lots of substance in here, as long as you don't expect "just" a platformer, as this ain't Super Mario Bros. Just like Limbo, INSIDE, and the rest of their kin, this is both a game, as well as an experience. It feels like a continuous adventure rather than a series of differently themed levels; and a damn good one, with its totally vague story told through visual hints instead of boring text logs or cut-scenes.

Screenshot for Little Nightmares on PC

In terms of gameplay alone, this won't win any awards for its originality, as it doesn't break the mould in any way, other than the fact that, unlike the vast majority of its siblings, the protagonist of Little Nightmares can move in full three-dimensions. In terms of concept its standard puzzle-platformer fair: manipulate the environment in order to move on to the next area, and, every now and then, avoid traps or bad guys.

What sets this journey apart from the rest is that the heroine is a tiny girl in a world of giants, therefore, even the simple act of reaching the doorknob and open a door can be a puzzle on its own. Furthermore, due to her size and lack of strength and running speed, it's all about hiding, and, more importantly, outsmarting the bad guys. Note, though, that, just like all good survival horror titles, enemies here are not just generic monsters, but tireless predators that never stop hunting you down.

Screenshot for Little Nightmares on PC

Little Nightmares can easily be divided between three chapters, each one being ruled by a "boss," who brings its own special taste of horror into the mix. The first, for example, is an impressively long-armed… thing, who acts as the scary janitor of this strange place, and who can't see you… but can smell and hear you, forcing our little hungry girl to use that to her advantage. Now, the next two in line are great too, but, unfortunately, their segments will last for a much shorter duration compared to the first one, which is a real shame, especially when it comes to the awesome main antagonist - whose defeat leads to a pretty badass ending, by the way.

The biggest issue here, however, seems to be that this ends up feeling a bit too short, with a pretty low level of challenge on top of it all, as for every difficult and smart obstacle, there are two that become obvious in less than a minute. Furthermore, like many "experiental" adventures, this loses a great deal of its charm after the first time, and, thus, its replay value, as the only reason to go back will be to collect/find all the available secrets, or experience it all again. Then again, low replay or not, this dark odyssey is definitely worth your time for at least one play-through.

Screenshot for Little Nightmares on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Short, easy, and not as good as it could be, but also engrossing, beautiful, and fun, this creepy, narrative-driven puzzle-platformer known as Little Nightmares might not be perfect, but it's also one of those titles that could very well be so with a little more care.

Developer

Tarsier Studios

Publisher

Bandai Namco

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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