Help a young girl named Six escape the deadly Maw and its gruesome inhabitants in this stealth horror platformer.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC (reviewed)
MonsterVine was provided with a PC code for review.
In Little Nightmares, you play a little girl named Six trying to escape a mysterious vessel known as the Maw. You have a lighter to illuminate dark places, but not much else to work with. You’re vulnerable—and it doesn’t take long to realize you’re also in great danger.
The gameplay is similar to that of a 2D puzzle platformer, although it has 3D environments for you to explore. Its platforming is generally simple, if occasionally frustrating due to the camera, and the puzzles that block your way can be easily overcome. The greatest challenge comes from evading the monstrous beings onboard the vessel, which combines adds a dash of stealth to the game.
Little Nightmares can be tense and pulse-pounding as you watch your enemies’ movements to plan out the best moment to sneak past, and you never quite feel safe. Certain sections are perfectly designed to startle you and make you uncomfortable, without resorting to pure shock value or jump scares. While not a traditional horror game, Little Nightmares revels in macabre imagery and twisted situations.
Above all else, it makes you ask questions. Is Six a prisoner on this ship? Is it a twisted nightmare symbolic of something else? Why is everything so big? Why are the Maw’s other inhabitants so large and monstrous compared to Six—and why are they so eager to catch her? When one of these people tosses aside a table and lunges forward, frantically trying to eat her, it’s disturbing both because of your character’s plight and because your pursuer seems so desperate. This is the sort of horror Little Nightmares loves, and it excels at portraying situations that unnerve you with the knowledge that something is very wrong.
However, it never really provides answers. There is no dialogue, and the ending takes a turn that raises even more questions. If ambiguous stories frustrate you, know that Little Nightmares doesn’t clearly spell anything out. On the other hand, if you enjoy the potential for speculation that comes with an ambiguous story, this one will provide plenty of fodder for theories.
It’s also quite a short game. If you make a point to explore everything and search for every hidden collectible, or if you need to retry many sections, it could take as much as 5-6 hours. A fast player, however, could complete it in 2-3 hours instead. While the pacing generally works in its favor, the final chapter feels especially abrupt.
Nevertheless, the few hours you’ll spend with Little Nightmares are filled with intense encounters, atmospheric locations, and disturbing imagery that make it a memorable and unsettling experience.
The Final Word
Little Nightmares might leave you with more questions than answers, but the strange, macabre journey should keep you wanting more.
– MonsterVine Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 – Great