Every child has their own fear of the unknown since they have not yet understood the world. As they grow up, those fears fade away while gaining wisdom. Despite achieving enlightenment through experiences in life, there is that lingering fear of the dark. Little Nightmares lets anybody to confront that childhood phobia in a new perspective.
Little Nightmares is a horror adventure game incorporated with puzzle-platformer elements. The game was developed by Tarsier Studios, an independent developer based in Sweden, and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. In Media Molecule’s official statement on September 28, 2010, Tarsier Studios was one of the development partners outsourced to develop some of the downloadable contents for LittleBigPlanet and LittleBigPlanet 2. Tarsier Studios also developed games like Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic and Tearaway Unfolded.
According to Eurogamer, Tarsier Studios first revealed Hunger, a surreal, 3D action adventure, in 2014. The game’s concept art has been floating around online. When Bandai Namco Entertainment decided to pick up Hunger, the game was later rebranded as Little Nightmares.
The game follows the journey of Six, a nine-year-old girl clad in a yellow raincoat. Six is in captivity of an underwater vessel called The Maw. While most children will falter in this dreary condition, she dares to break out of her confinement. The Maw is inhabited by corrupted and grotesque colossal figures such as The Twin Chefs, The Guests and The Janitor. Other eerie creatures like the Leeches are lurking in the vessel’s damp tunnels. Everything in The Maw is overly insatiable to eat anything the see. Early online trailers hinted that The Maw abducts children for food. Behind the thriving operation and feverish feast of The Maw is The Lady, an enigmatic mastermind wielding secret powers. She makes sure that The Guests are satisfied from their meals. Most of the denizens will try to capture and devour Six. On the other hand, a group of benevolent creatures called Nomes is willing to aid Six along the way.
Throughout her exploits, Six is experiencing excruciating hunger. Players have to help Six escape the vessel, at the same time satiate her hunger. Various puzzles also serve as obstacles for players in the form of platforms, narrow walkways, pitfalls, and traps. Players must tread carefully since Six is very fragile. Only her lighter provides illumination in sections with dim lighting. Players have to use their imagination, resourcefulness, stealth and reflexes to avoid her captors. They can utilize Six’s very tiny stature to access hatches, climb cupboards, pull drawers, pick up large keys, drag stools, swing on lamps, creep between grates, crawl into ventilation shafts and hide into corners. Every section has smooth transition whenever players traverse in a new area.
Meanwhile, players will have their patience, a presence of mind and precision tested in this game. Upon reaching checkpoints, players can return from their last progress whenever Six dies. Casual horror gamers would definitely like this game due to the expansive world, ambient sounds, clever puzzles, short hours of gameplay, pure adrenaline rush during cat and mouse chases and endearing main protagonist. For achievement hunters and completionists, the game is also filled with secrets. There are hidden pots that players can break. Nomes are scattered around the game and players can look for them. Players can also challenge each other on who can clear the game quickly, break the most hidden pots and meet the most Nomes. This is one of the reasons why Youtube Gamers love this game.
The game has the same atmosphere of Playdead’s Limbo and Inside as players immerse in a dark, haunting and surreal atmosphere while danger is constantly waiting for them. Eurogamer even commented that the game shows strong influences from Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s films such as Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children. Given that Tarsier Studios worked for Media Molecule, influences from the LittleBigPlanet series are very present in this game. Six is small and vulnerable compared to the world of the giants while most of the denizens of The Maw are towering and imposing.