Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Tarsier Studios
Release Date: 06/06/2017
Also Available On
I recently picked up the Complete Edition on Switch as I never got around to The Kid’s DLC, Secrets of the Maw. I replayed the original game and will post my original review below and address further thoughts with the DLC review.
Minimalist side-scrollers have become very popular in Limbo. Inside is just another example of these horror side scrollers done right. Little Nightmares doesn’t really tell a story through voices or words, but through actions. Unlike Inside, Little Nightmares doesn’t have too much of a story to tell. You play as a child trying to escape a ship from humongous fat monsters trying to eat you. That’s all we get really.
Sadly, the story doesn’t really explain much as the art direction, monster design, and backdrops are wonderful and beg for more storytelling. The beginning of the game is made up of basic platforming with simple physics puzzles and a lot of atmosphere. Eventually, you start seeing the occupants of this ship and that’s when things get creepy.
Little Nightmares does a fine job of creating a tense atmosphere and suspense. Grabbing and sneaking are tied to the shoulder buttons, so when you grab something you must hold the button down. This makes things more intense as you are running away from a monster with a key to unlock a door and if you let go of that button it’s all over. The middle of the game is made up of outsmarting these monsters and the puzzles get bigger, but not really harder.
There’s not much to really explore outside of lighting lanterns for checkpoints and breaking porcelain dolls to unlock achievements. The game is definitely intense throughout the 3 hours it takes to complete, there wasn’t a dull moment that I can remember. I always felt like I was running and overpowered and small. From climbing stacks of dishes and escaping on meat hooks to chopping off the arms of a doll maker. The game gives players something that most don’t and that’s solid gameplay while combining excellent visuals and touching moments.
Overall, there are some of the best 3 hours you will spend. From beginning to end, Little Nightmares has something interesting to offer and it’s never boring. The graphics are gorgeous with art styles that reminded me of Box Trolls mixed with Coraline. If you love horror games and platformers then this is for you.
Secrets of the Maw DLC
After replaying the original game I still felt the same about it. The game portrays a really creepy atmosphere and digs into the fears of children and well – their nightmares. The Secrets of the Maw DLC tells the adventure of the kid you see in the cage when you first start the game up. The DLC is about as long as the original game and is divided into three chapters as well, however, there are more gameplay elements mixed into each chapter to make it more interesting gameplay-wise.
The DLC still gives off that creepy and dark atmosphere and sense of dread that the Kid has to go through. Sadly, we only get one new monster known as The Granny in the first chapter. You spend this chapter at the bottom of the ship in the sewers escaping her grip in the water. The main gameplay loop here is jumping around platforms in the water and swimming for your life to the next segment. I wish we could have seen her more instead of just bubbles in the water. She does appear at the end of the chapter, but with this being the only new monster it’s a bit of a letdown.
Overall this chapter focuses mostly on platforming and the DLC didn’t address any issues such as the camera problems and not being able to line up your jump correctly. The Switch version suffers greatly from long load times so dying often can be a frustrating mess on the Switch. Loading can take up to a minute between each death and sometimes I died shortly after loading just to wait another minute to try again.
The second chapter brings back The Janitor which was the first monster in the main game. This is a very long chapter that consists of three puzzle areas. Here you also get to solve puzzles with the little gnomes from the main game to push things around and activate levers. I found several bugs here such as gnomes disappearing through floors which required checkpoint restarts. Overall, running from The Janitor again isn’t as terrifying as the first time.
The last chapter brings back The Geisha which was the final monster in the main game. This one mostly focuses on a new flashlight combat system in which you shine your light on phantoms and they turn to ash. I found this frustrating as the closer they are to you the less effective the light is which doesn’t make sense. The smallest point of the cone of light is what causes this and it seems like an oversight. I found there were too many phantoms coming after you at once and it became overwhelming. The puzzles in this chapter are the best in the entire game, but again it’s another monster we’ve seen before.
Overall, Secrets of the Maw is a great DLC that doubles the length of the entire collection. It feels more like a game and less like a haunted house ride and just feels more thought out. There were some glitches, the platforming and camera need work, and reusing monsters brings the tension down too much. With the entire package wrapped up, you have about 3 hours of fun creepy atmosphere here.