Review: Little Nightmares — Eerie environments and eerier beings

Little Nightmares is one of the eeriest games ever created. According to the developers, it’s a dark whimsical tale that will confront you with your childhood fears. You’re thrust into the action in a rather abrupt manner when you step into the shoes of 9-year-old Six who has to escape The Maw. The Maw is a vast, mysterious vessel inhabited by corrupted souls looking for their next meal. As you progress on your journey, you explore the most disturbing dollhouse, offering a prison to escape from and a playground full of secrets to discover. The story unfolds piece-by-piece in order to carefully unravel the mystery behind the surroundings. While Little Nightmares may have some technical shortcomings on Xbox One, it’s one of the best puzzle-platformers available on the console.

The story unfolds piece-by-piece in order to carefully unravel the mystery behind the surroundings

There are a few main mechanics in the game. The first involves basic platforming in order to traverse the treacherous environment. Easy enough. The second involves solving various puzzles like pulling switches and quickly making your way across a room or two before the timer runs out. The third involves using stealth to avoid foes. Lastly, the lighter—by far the most important element—is needed to illuminate your surroundings because the majority of Little Nightmares takes place in dark, dank corridors. All of these come together to form a wholesome and sinister experience.

As alluded to earlier, Little Nightmares is as much of a stealth game as it is a puzzle-platformer. There are ravenous souls out to make a meal of little Six and you have to avoid them at all costs. However, not all of the ship’s inhabitants are out to get you. Unfortunately, the towering giants are lethal and you have to avoid them by hiding under beds, dressers or by running to an inaccessible area. Since you’re significantly smaller than the grotesque creatures, it’s not that hard of a task.

Little Nightmares is as much of a stealth game as it is a puzzle-platformer

The game is definitely a linear experience but there are collectibles and other secrets to discover. For example, you find numerous Matryoshka doll-like figurines to destroy. Little Nightmares rewards exploration as much as quickly figuring out the solution to different puzzles. There are also a lot of climbing and jumping challenges so prepare yourself for that. They’re by far the trickiest due to the slightly cumbersome controls.

Not to sound like a broken record but Little Nightmares only runs at 30 FPS on Xbox One. This results in a lack of precision and clumsy controls all around. While this isn’t an issue during the majority of the playthrough, there are certain sections which require precisely balancing on a thin beam in order to get to the other side. The imprecise controls can cause a lot of frustration because you keep on falling off the platformers. Little Nightmares isn’t a graphically-demanding title so it’s a little strange to witness it running at 30 FPS on the console. Nevertheless, the frame rate remains stable throughout the experience so players will get used to the controls after a while. Despite that, their imprecise nature remains a problem throughout the game.

Little Nightmares features a lack of precision and clumsy controls all around

Overall, Little Nightmares is an interesting game with gorgeous aesthetics. This immersive world appears to be part dream and part nightmare. Despite its short length, gamers will encounter numerous shocking moments throughout their playthrough. While the story isn’t unique by any stretch of the imagination and is clearly inspired by games like Limbo, it’s still a pleasure to play. If you’re looking for a gorgeous platformer with a dark twist, then Little Nightmares is for you.