Little Nightmares is a roller coaster, with moments of genuine fright and intrigue to moments that completely broke the pacing to moments that even made me laugh out loud.
Little Nightmares hosts a bizarre circus of outlandish creatures. There are no cheap jump scares and the threats are typically known, yet the suspense derives from the fear of not necessarily knowing where these threats are, or moments of either quiet or frantic fright.
Little Nightmares feels like an experiment. An experiment that manages to create an atmospheric, oddly tangible world for such a nightmarish, abstract environment, but an experiment nonetheless.
You’ll be dragged along for the ride by a segmented yet whole story, with suspenseful gameplay that deteriorates over time, an intriguing atmosphere, supplemental puzzles that shy away from the gameplay, and overall lost potential.
Now then… let’s begin with the story, shall we?
Chapter 1: The Story – Outside, Inside, Within, but Not Without
Little Nightmares’ story tries to be as abstract as possible while complementing the game’s progression, which would work perfectly considering the story is segmented across the different Chapters; however, the story takes a subtle turn down the path of world building, relationships or links between characters, and the life-cycle that we’re a part of. In the end, we’re left with only questions and hardly any answers.
The best way for me to show you what I mean is by comparing what we learn from the game and what we learn from official outside sources.
So let’s start with what we do know from what the game itself gives us.
The Story Told from Within
Our main protagonist is a little yellow jacket with no name, no age, no sex, which is fine, it’s not necessary information. For now, we’ll just assume “she” and we’ll give her the name “Yellow”.
Yellow wakes up from an image of a masked woman. We’ll be discussing her at length later on, but for now, her introduction paints a rather mysterious, yet sinister tone that may linger in the back of the player’s mind, although it’s much more reasonable to suggest that the masked woman was there just so we’ll recognize her later on. This becomes a problem, however, as we’ll see.
The mystery is set up pretty well just by the dark and damp place we wake up in, although the screen rocking back and forth alone kind of gives the mystery away that we’re on a ship for the sake of immersion, and that’s okay since the game can focus more on atmosphere rather than some kind of mystery to solve.
When Yellow wakes up, we see that she was sleeping in a suitcase. This tells us two things right off the bat:
- Assuming it’s a normal-sized suitcase, this child is tiny. It has been estimated that she’s somewhere between 8 and 12 inches, but this is unconfirmed. I only mention this theory ‘cause I find it fascinating.
- She’s been hiding and sleeping here. You can tell because it’s in a secluded area. Considering the linear trek we make from here on out, it’s safe to allege that this was, in fact, your home for some time and not just a pitstop.
Alright, so how did she get here and why is she just now leaving?
These details are actually well-placed. We find a man hanging around. We can assume this event is related to Yellow in some way, just due to how secluded this area is from the main areas. We know someone else killed him because his feet are above the chair.
We slowly creep through the door and you almost instinctively want to crouch and stay silent because of the black substance seemingly dragged along the ground. The game’s contrast between its lighting and the lack thereof does wonders for the mood set here, although this theme is consistent throughout most of the game. At least, until it switches gears with entire rooms lit up with the subtlety of a can opener in a blender.
We also find a pair of hands… awkwardly not grasping the refrigerator handle… but either way it’s enough to paint a mental image of what might have happened to the hanging man in the previous room. We find out that the refrigerator is actually running, mostly due to the sound it makes, but it’s empty. We can assume that Yellow had just ran out of food, so she’s left no choice but to find her way out.
Of course, I’ve only presumed these details about the hanging man and Yellow from what the game has given me visually, but they’re so prominently placed that no dialogue is needed. In fact, these details are the driving force of the game thus far, which is to be expected. Everything is so dark and dreary, so unknown, so empty. It’s what sets up the atmosphere and tone.
And these details continue. When Yellow falls into a leech haven, we can then draw the conclusion that Yellow didn’t know about that broken board and thus Yellow must have either taken a different path or was being guided by the hanging man when she was escaping from whatever horrors await us.
Yet another detail soon after: a rope tied together from cloth, which obviously wasn’t done by Yellow due to how high up the grating is from the bathroom floor.
Although, I will say, even though I’m not analyzing the DLC yet, the DLC does show who ties this cloth rope. That doesn’t matter though, since we have enough context to reasonably say someone or something used this rope to escape.
It’s important to note here: what we may or may not have learned thus far, especially pertaining to the hanging man, is contained, or segmented. It’s restricted to its respective area. We’ll see why this is important as we continue.
The Prison & the Lanky Arm Man
We find a children’s play area with electrified bars blocking passage on both sides, keeping whatever children here hostage. There are doors, alphabet blocks, an Eye that presumably keeps children from escaping, if the dead children weren’t an obvious enough clue.
Cages, more rooms, and we find out that these rooms are actually minimalist bedrooms for the children with abhorrent living conditions, including the leech substance. Imagine sleeping with death lingering underneath you, it’s like Molly all over again.
There’s a room filled with sleeping children, giving us the feeling that we’re becoming closer to the meat of the situation. I’m sure the dangerous lanky arm man helps with that feeling.
The game extinguishes your flame when you drop into a room where your hunger starts painfully moaning. Notice the lighting. The lighting makes sure that you’re focusing on this event happening to Yellow. Compare this lighting to the room after the hanging man; that lighting focuses on the atmosphere rather than any event. We see the same purposeful lighting soon after for the second tummy rumblings, and then again for an important event — a lone cafeteria child that tosses you something to eat.
And even then, you might notice that the cafeteria is behind bars. The theme is consistent.
Soon we find showers, an entire room filled with more cages, some cages with children inside, so, crap, everything is piecing itself together and man is it spooky; there’s also another Eye segment, which we’ll get to when we talk about Gameplay.
There’s a hidden room where you can spy on certain areas of the ship, which is located underneath the lanky arm man’s bedroom, so we can assume that he used this camera system when he wasn’t blind, which would make a great deal of sense considering his job is to prevent children from escaping before he wraps them up for a banquet.
Why else do you think he goes at such great lengths to catch you, compared to the chefs who just don’t want vermin running around their kitchen.
Oh… and yes… the lanky arm man does capture children, after raising them as seen with the bedrooms, the rather large cafeteria, the play area, and other areas later on such as a library, and then wraps them up, hangs them on hooks, and sends them off to the kitchen.
This is definitely some of the most unsettling imagery we see in the game, and it’s tied with a creature that gives us some of the most suspenseful gameplay.
There’s a sea of shoes. I don’t believe they’re children’s shoes, and we’ll see later who they most likely belong to, but here’s an example of where the imagery is more impactful than the actual context of these shoes, which is important for building an atmosphere rather than just awkwardly pushing for an enveloping story.
The Chefs & the Guests
After lanky arm man, we find out where the body bags end up by grabbing onto the hooks themselves, followed by endless piles of bodies for the chef to cut up for the meals. Here we’re left to soak in the implications of this madness happening around us.
And then we have those painful stomach cramps for the third time and end up eating a live rat.
As mentioned before, the chef doesn’t really mind that an escaped child is here… he just looks bothered but doesn’t really care and walks back to his cooking.
Back on the hooks, we follow the trail all the way to the end of the line where the meat reaches the apparent guests of the ship.
So here’s the takeaway thus far. The story is presented in chunks — the children nursery and prison, the wrapping up children by the lanky arm man, the chopping of said children, the gluttons that eat the same said children — it’s a machine that makes sense only because it is presented through separate chunks and connected by the assembly line hooks, and it overall takes the backseat compared to the suspenseful gameplay and atmosphere. This is where Little Nightmares truly shines. The story exists as a supplement for the atmospheric, escapist journey that we are a part of.
The Masked Woman
After we see for certain that the place we’re in is, in fact, some kind of vessel, not necessarily a ship, everything starts to fall apart. We see monstrosities walking into this vessel, then we see the same masked woman we saw in the beginning of the game. So here we’re starting to draw connections, which is where the story takes that subtle turn I mentioned at the beginning of this Chapter.
We see the monstrosities eating an endless supply of meat, then we enter the masked woman’s chambers, where the final nail in the coffin has to be the picture that looks like our character, so now the game is seemingly connecting our character with this masked woman, which then surfaces entirely new questions that never get answered.
So this vessel is run by this masked woman who might be related to your character, which now opens the door to how the hanging man could be related in all of this because now we know that he had to have had a deeper connection to Yellow and the Masked Woman; fast forward past the entire system set up with the children, meat, and dining hall, and now we can’t help but wonder why is this system set up, we see possibly how the masked woman is involved, but not how Yellow has anything to do with it. These questions regarding how Yellow may be involved or related to any of these characters or events never crossed my mind as a player, but now — and this is the most important aspect here — now, all of these questions are potentially relevant to you and the main protagonist. Potentially relevant, mind you, but relevant all the same as long as we have these lingering thoughts in our minds. All because the game tried to unnecessarily and actively connect or link characters, bring to light possible relationships, and force Yellow into relevancy.
Any other questions we’ve had previously have all been minute, since we could reasonably guess or assume. But even then, it was clear that none of it really mattered and wasn’t the focus. We see the entire process of the place we’re in clearly separated into chapters that paints a picture and the rest is left as an abstract adventure puzzle-platformer for the player. The story was enough to drag you along through the suspense and the atmosphere and made you feel more immersed and tied the game together, also keeping in mind that it would have been fine if Little Nightmares was purely abstract. But now, because the game linked two characters together, this story is no longer contained. There are simply too many questions, too many links; it now becomes more personal.
We could even possibly assume that Yellow’s story is one of Revenge if they are related. I reckon this game’s story would have been better conveyed as an Escapist Story rather than a Revenge Story, because that opens so many doors. At this point, however, we need to lift ourselves out of the rabbit hole.
Even if you didn’t notice the connection between the masked woman and Yellow, there are a couple scattered hints here and there that tries to link Yellow to characters, such as the hanging man, but there’s one detail in particular:
The flashback of the masked woman when we first started the game, and then we see her later on, creating that mental link and inadvertently wondering if there’s a connection. Because there’s obviously a connection. Having a nightmarish vision of a woman the player has never seen before means that Yellow herself has seen this woman before.
Without this detail, we would have been content with: oh, this masked woman is looking over the monstrosities piling in, she must be the overseer or leader of this vessel. And that would have been enough.
The key here is: too many details can collapse a perfectly well-conveyed story for a game that focuses on atmospheric, suspenseful, puzzle-platforming. There’s plenty that Little Nightmares focuses on; the least of its concerns should have been telling a deeper, more enriching story, especially considering Little Nightmares doesn’t even have the decency to give us any answers.
It would have been fine if we were actually given some answers, which the game is already set up for that potentiality. I’ll show some examples later on when I talk about the comic. Oh… and yes… there’s actually a comic.
Hunger, Broken Mirrors, & the Finale
Okay, so after the monstrosities eat up, we eat a sausage.. just kidding! We eat the grey creature! ‘Cause what a better way to slip into the depths of depravity than with this scene. And that’s the main reason I can let this slide in my mind, with the descent into madness theme we clearly see with Yellow throughout these bouts of increasingly painful hunger. This happens to be quite a personal issue, and yet it acts more as a vehicle leading to the game’s finale than anything without bothering to give us an actual explanation.
I’ve seen people say Yellow chose the grey creature over the sausage ‘cause she knows that the sausage is made out of children, but to say that would justify eating a live being over a dead one, and that just doesn’t make any sense.
We sneak into the woman’s quarters to find that picture of Yellow, then we move on to the finale where, past the plethora of broken mirrors, we find a small mirror intact.
But wait, hold your horses, what’s with all of these broken mirrors? The only possible conclusion we can draw here is that she’s vain and can’t stand to look at herself, which is why she’s wearing that mask. But then the mask would have been enough, why break the mirrors? Not to mention, she’s using a mirror to help with her hair braiding or whatever she’s doing, so there has to be another reason.
The only evidence we have to go off of is how the masked woman reacts to the small, unbroken mirror we find. I guess we’re just supposed to accept that mirrors hurt her for some reason? I mean, it’s an obviously overlooked mirror placed solely for pushing the plot forward.
Not to mention a huge detail that the devs snuck in. If you push the eye camera button after it closes, it now shows a camera keeping an eye on the unbroken mirror… why does this mirror exist when they care enough about it to keep under surveillance?
Alright… forced plot aside… here is why I said Yellow’s odd hunger with her eating a rat and then a grey creature is a vehicle leading to the game’s finale. Because you eat the masked woman. No explanation why, just do it because you’ll understand this woman’s motives now. It feels forced because we’re left with only questions to why Yellow even has this painful hunger in the first place.
In regards to the masked woman’s motives… well… Yellow just absorbs every monstrosities’ life force or essence, so we can assume the masked woman uses this feast as a front for the sake of immortality by killing them all. Of course, I can’t know what the true motives are, but immortality is the most cliche answer I can think of here so I’m shoehorning that in.
If Little Nightmares stopped there with the story, my critique would end and we could move on. However… Little Nightmares has a website that gives us buttloads of relevant information regarding the entire game that only serves to bloat the story, world, lore, what have you.
So let’s try to piece everything together with what the website gives us, shall we?
The Story Told by the Official Website
Remember when I said it’s fine that Yellow doesn’t have a name, age, or sex? Yeah well… she does.
The fact that these details even exist removes the sense of ambiguity and confined storytelling that Little Nightmares excels at. They obviously want to tell a full story. They obviously have a world they developed outside of this vessel that we’re in. There are reasons that this vessel exists, yet any answers given to us are, ironically enough, completely ambiguous and only raises more questions, which is a problem when trying to develop something tangible. Now we’re starting to gulp instead of sip at why Little Nightmares took its story, world, universe, whatever you want to call it, too far.
Our main protagonist’s name is actually Six. If my parents named me a number, I don’t think I would’ve included it in the game either.
Six wakes up suddenly from an image of a masked woman, who is known as The Lady, a name that is, again, nowhere to be found in the game.
Some more details that we never learn include that she’s nine-years-old, a female, and trapped in The Maw, the vessel that we’ve been in throughout the entire game.
Although her age is unconfirmed since the only source I found was the Wiki. Maybe the Wiki made it up after the Little Nightmares Nine Deaths of Six trailer was released? Who knows, it doesn’t really matter.
If we take a look at the Little Nightmares website or the Visit The Maw reveal trailer, we can see that The Maw is clearly some kind of underground factory. Heck, there’s even concept art that shows us what The Maw looks like. Even then, we still know absolutely nothing about The Maw.
Oh! Wait… yes we do… through their website of course!
“The Lady casts the hypnotic spell that keeps the engine running.”
Alright, so what kind of hypnotic spell is this and how does it keep the engine running? This is an odd detail, so are we to assume that this entire process The Lady has set up is to also keep The Maw’s engines running? This can’t just mean that there’s an engine room somewhere with a slave keeping it alive.
“Amidst the chaos of the world outside, The Maw is the only place that makes sense.”
Alright, how is The Maw the only place that makes sense? Is the world itself in complete disarray and shambles? Or is it for her own personal gain?
“Nothing can be allowed to interfere. The guests must eat. The Maw must survive.”
Alright, but why? This entire assembly line process makes no sense, and these details only raise more questions and don’t answer anything.
We also know that “if The Maw had a heart, it would have lived” in the Lady’s Quarters. So something is obviously going on beyond surface level here.
If we dive into the Guests, we find that:
“The Guests are an essential part of The Maw’s life-cycle. Herded into the large hall, they slump into their bowing stools, and there they feed.”
Okay, but what’s The Maw’s life-cycle all about? We’ve seen part of it but now the website is raising more questions.
We find other very fascinating details:
“The Maw arrives every year. Always at the same time, but never in the same place.”
“Soon after, they start to arrive. The guests. And then they are no more. For none of those that enter have ever returned to tell the tale. At least, not yet…”
That “not yet” at the end obviously refers to Six, but it’s interesting since that means she was captured with the other children at some point, even though we have evidence to suggest that Six is related to The Lady, most likely her daughter. But Six may not be her daughter, so then the yellow raincoat picture is just a giant red herring, not to mention the only significance we can assign to Six’s name is that she may be the sixth in line regarding this image of The Lady and four other dark figures. So now we have this detail about Six entering The Maw at one point that sounds conflicting only because, again, we’re given only questions and never answers. We simply have no basis for these theories regarding The Lady anymore.
The Maw arrives only once a year, and so they stuff up these Guests, then… kill them… maybe only for The Lady’s benefit, but there are a plethora of possible reasons and unknown details just from this single piece of information.
We also now know why the beginning children’s area seemed surprisingly empty, because the children were rounded up for this year’s feast.
Another detail that makes sense regarding The-Maw-only-arriving-once-a-year is how the water runs down The Maw’s walls, inside and outside. Now we know that The Maw pops up once a year and we’re experiencing that moment in the game. We also witness The Maw in its normal, submerged state at the end of the game.
We also now know how none of the Guests ever leave once they enter. We could have inferred that before, but now we’re 100% certain.
“The Guest Area is where the Guests come to sit and sweat, where they gorge and purge.”
“This is where the well-fed beasts come to feast.”
“Without taste, without need, without end”
So the Guests aren’t being tricked into anything, they’re already glutinous, disgusting creatures, so they must exist in the outside world somewhere. But considering the Maw only shows up once a year, do these creatures just sit around in the outside world and eat children and anything else they can get their hands on? Why introduce these details when they didn’t matter before?
We’ve been talking about the once-a-year detail, but there’s also how The Maw always arrives at the same time, but never in the same place. This can only mean that The Maw moves from location to location killing off both the children and the obese people. So essentially, The Maw is killing off the world as we know it.
That’s quite a significant jump in lore and story from what the game gives us.
The only hope I have for the Little Nightmares story is the four issue tie-in comic and a future television adaptation, which definitely surprised me. However, only two of the comic issues have been released. It’s presumed that the third issue was delayed due to the tie-in with the 2nd DLC, which will be analyzed in a future video, so make sure you subscribe for that.
For now, I did read through the two released issues as they tie-in with the base game… Sort of… maybe it’s a good start at least…
The four issues of this comic don’t reveal enough answers to warrant the additional questions, but at this point, might as well just for fun, I suppose.
With Issue #1, we find out that the Guests do, in fact, live in the outside world. And the sight of children is outlandish in itself, so they’re taken to The Maw by this deformed creature known as the Ferryman. He’s not in the game or the website, and his name isn’t mentioned in the comic. I believe his name was found through the game’s files, but that doesn’t matter.
We find out about some supernatural force called the North Wind that wipes entire villages chasing two children. Before the North Wind could kill them, one of the children turns into the Ferryman and brings the other to a safe place — The Maw… uhh… yeah… the child turning into the Ferryman makes no sense considering they’ve been running for many years. There’s no way the Ferryman would be out of commission for an entire years.
Ignoring that, we know the Ferryman wasn’t actually saving the child from anything since we know what really happens to these children. The website also says, “The cell door screams open and shut, another wriggling sack of secrets is thrown into captivity. Once hopeful, now trapped by fat promises, they sit. Out of sight. Out of luck. Awaiting their turn.”
So the Ferryman will either take children or save them as an excuse to have them killed in The Maw.
Apparently Six can’t talk, but these children know her and tell her that she doesn’t belong here, but change their minds saying that it’s not safe now even though it’s never safe so this confrontation makes no sense and Six doesn’t even respond.
I realize that Six being mute had to be a design choice, but I would say this choice takes away from Six’s character development. We never learn anything about her except that she was taken to The Maw, which we already knew from the website.
There’s a scene where that lone cafeteria child we saw in the game is talking to Six, but Six remains silent and she even covers her ears.
So besides the lack of character development here, the reason I bring up the lone cafeteria child is that Little Nightmares could have had the occasional dialogue or bubble pop up. Little Nightmares has already dived into the rabbit hole head first so there’s no reason some kind of narrative, story, character, lore, anything, couldn’t have been added in.
There are even two specific instances where there are obviously placed letters that can’t be interacted with — one next to the hanging man, and the other next to a hidden picture of The Lady. Oh, and yes, she’s depicted with one eye here, most likely symbolic, similar to the doors with eyes on them. But either way, being able to read these letters or maybe hidden messages from previous children could have built upon the world that the developers obviously wanted for the game.
Finally, one of the children does end up getting eaten by a leech, but then they just sit in the same spot, waiting for the leeches to eat the rest of them. It makes no sense, not to mention you would think they would have found a safe place to sit together by now, considering we see countless places without leeches in the beginning of the game alone.
With Issue #2 we’re mainly introduced to mirrors. So basically, you see yourself as something else in a mirror, such as a tall version of yourself, you transform into said version, the original you is now inside the mirror, but then a monster pulls you into the mirror. Yes, it’s very ambiguous. And the comic becomes quite cluttered to the point where I don’t even 100% know what the kid’s plan was. Two of the children leave, saying they’ll come back, but why didn’t they just bring the now deformed kid with them? He’s no longer giant so he could probably fit in whatever hole they crawled through.
The main takeaway, however, is how mirrors are dangerous. Oh hey, The Lady’s mirrors were all broken!
But really, that still leaves us with more questions than answers. Showing us these mirrors and their potential danger is just some abstract introduction. What do mirrors and their dangers have anything to do with The Lady? Sure, we could guess, but that isn’t going to do us any good with the information that we have.
If Little Nightmares did stick to its abstract roots and focused on providing a suspenseful, atmospheric, immersive title about the unknown or even with most, not all, of the story we’ve seen before looking at the Little Nightmares website, then the game could have had a more substantial impact. Instead, the game executes an odd mixture where it’s obvious that there’s a story to tell and a fleshed-out world outside of The Maw, but presents it in such a way that leaves me feeling empty.
Chapter 2: Gameplay, Controls, & Systems
Little Nightmares’ controls are quite exceptional.
Six has weight to her, yet she’s responsive and natural to control, complemented quite well by the sound effects.
The developers commented on the controls. I definitely suggest reading it in its entirety (Dive-In, top-right News), but one of their goals was “to preserve Six’s childlike personality, whilst at the same time keeping the gameplay tight and energetic.”
One of the most noticeable aspects for me has to be the pushing or dragging of objects. In the same developer blog, we see that they were thinking about the weight of these draggable objects and how they would be slow and laborious, although they realized that perhaps “slow and laborious” would be too boring and… well… slow.
Six has full control over what she’s moving, but with this responsibility comes the risk of not making any gosh darn sense due to her small stature. But thankfully, even though they moved away from “slow and laborious”, everything was accounted for. While the ability to rotate a chair already makes sense, you have to grab onto handles in order to rotate certain objects such as suitcases and carts. Rotating objects feels like they have an appropriate weight given Six’s small stature.
In order to grab, you have to hold the trigger, which makes sense considering you can’t just rotate or pull objects by pushing into them.
Little Nightmares’ controls complement the game’s suspenseful nature perfectly.
How, you may ask? It’s actually pretty simple… the game has you actively climbing and crouching, on top of the running and jumping. Instead of jumping and the game automatically grabbing the ledge and climbing up for you, you, as the player, have to hold the trigger for Six to latch on. If you let go of the trigger, then Six lets go. Six will automatically climb onto low objects or ledges by jumping, but the higher ones, or objects such as switches and cranks, require more input from the user.
The developers comment on this as well, saying that their design philosophy was: “only when you press a button should something happen. This is why Six only holds on to something when you hold on to the R2 button, and why a crank wheel will only turn when you rotate the stick.”
I want to express why this is important, since I feel like this concept is generally frowned upon. And that’s because it completely depends on the game and its goals. Even for Little Nightmares, user input varies, but it always feels appropriate.
Little Nightmares only has you climbing as a way to progress through an area, such as climbing onto boxes and hanging off of door handles, and not excessively so it feels much more natural and never cumbersome. Little Nightmares doesn’t focus on a quick and nimble climbing system.
This system truly works when you’re in a suspenseful situation, such as climbing to safety when you’re being chased. Having to not only press the trigger, but hold the trigger puts the action in the player’s hands. It feels more personal, like you’re grabbing on for dear life and trying to pull yourself up. Six pulls herself up on her own, but that feeling is still there, especially since letting go of the trigger will cause her to drop. Otherwise you would jump, Six would grab on, and then pull herself up without any user input beyond pressing the jump button. Yes, it would automate the process, and yes, this works for trivial climbing like the couch, but automating control in tense moments feels like the rest is out of your hands and there’s nothing you can do but wait and hope.
Silent Controls… Well… Sometimes….
Little Nightmares stays silent about its controls, unless it doesn’t. I usually expect games to teach me its mechanics through the game itself and not text boxes or an isolated tutorial that can feel quite jarring. In that respect, Little Nightmares hits it spot on. The game tries very hard not to break the immersion with HUD elements, similar to Hellblade.
Little Nightmares teaches its controls perfectly. Soon after waking up, you walk into darkness and realize it’s absolutely way too dark to see anything — so you quickly find the lighter button and, subsequently, light up a lantern. After lighting the lantern, you can’t proceed until you figure out how to open the hatch and then how to crawl through.
Already, you just figured out the main controls for the rest of the game: lighting, grabbing, and crawling, all without the game telling you a single button to press, and all within the first room.
However, there are four instances where controls pop up on the screen. And I’m here to tell you that these on-screen control prompts are completely unnecessary and could have been avoided if Little Nightmares actually cared about not breaking the immersion with HUD elements, despite its success thus far as we’ve discussed.
The first instance is when you crank a wheel and have to make it through the door in time before it closes. After you fail the first time, or more specifically after you crank the wheel for a second time, the game feels it necessary to tell you the solution. If the level is designed in such a way that doesn’t promote the mechanic you’re trying to introduce, then the design isn’t doing its job. I’m not all flaunt and no meat, however; I can point out the problem and a potential solution. It’s a very simple solution, but a solution nonetheless.
The problem is the gap. When the player sees this gap, their train of thought will prioritize the gap. The player will realize that they will have to jump this gap if they ever hope to make it to the other side before the door closes. That’s exactly what this gap suggests. This section does not actively promote running, and it should if its trying to introduce a concept.
What if the player already figured out how to run, though? Then having this gap here would be fine, right? Well… if the player already figured out how to run, then they’ll never see the control prompt. And if they do accidentally screw up or fall, then they will see the control prompt, which then comes across as condescending.
A solution could be to remove the gap. The player could easily infer that running is possible if the bridge was a straight path with no gap. There would be nothing else to distract the player from the actual solution and thus they’ll figure out how to run, if they haven’t already.
The second instance is when you have to throw a toy monkey at a switch high above you. Take long enough, and a prompt will reveal itself.
The problem here isn’t with the level design, since there’s nothing else in the room you can interact with; it’s an empty room with one object and one objective, with obvious lighting that focuses the player’s attention to said objective.
The problem is actually with the throwing mechanic, but only in these specific instances that require you to throw an object at a high-up button. You have to hold down the throw button when just pressing it would’ve sufficed. Otherwise you might sometimes press it, sometimes hold it, without realizing the difference. Throwing normally by pressing or holding does influence the distance thrown, but it’s hardly noticeable and it’s overall negligible. You never need to hold down the throw button in any situation other than these elevator buttons, so this control should have been simplified and then the control prompt could’ve easily been scrapped.
The third instance is when the game thinks it appropriate to let you know that you can look around… This is so blatantly patronizing to the player, like they wouldn’t think to move the right stick that commonly acts as a camera control. But even without knowing what the right stick is commonly used for, the game already promotes pressing buttons. I think the player might happen to brush their thumb against the stick.
This prompt even pops up a second time after you kill yourself. Not to mention, looking around doesn’t even help in this circumstance. You have to close the door before you can see the switch, looking around with the Right stick doesn’t help with anything, it doesn’t help the player find the switch. Yes, I’ve given solutions to the other control prompts but this one is just so lazy, the only possible solution here would be to remove the prompt.
The fourth instance is when the game tells you how to solve a puzzle. At least this time it’s relevant, but this prompt isn’t even for conveying any new controls. Its sole purpose is to tell you how to solve this simple puzzle. There’s nothing else you can do in the room. I guess us players who enjoy playing Little Nightmares are just too stupid to do anything, so I appreciate the condescending help.
The Collectibles: China Dolls, Lanterns, & Nomes
There are three collectibles in the game: China Dolls, Lanterns, and Nomes.
Let’s begin with the China Doll’s introduction. There’s a china doll displayed prominently, accented by a very faint light from somewhere above. Of course, you still need your lighter, but the way the light very subtly draws you near can’t be overlooked. Except it can, because there’s absolutely no indication of what to do with the China Doll. There hasn’t been a precedent set at this point, so players are more likely than not just gonna leave it there, maybe after knocking it around a bit and picking it up. Little do you know, that, after a little Google search, you can actually throw objects, and that’s exactly what you have to do here.
Bear in mind that this is before the game requires throwing of any kind.
It’s trying to introduce the concept of finding these dolls and yet it completely fails to indicate what to do with them. Considering Little Nightmares is trying to go with the no HUD approach, at the very least they could have added some kind of broken doll next to it or nearby, so players will at least realize that maybe they’re supposed to break it. That wouldn’t do much good, but how about if the China Dolls start appearing after we learn how to throw.
The Nomes we see scurrying about could have been used to break one of these China Dolls as well, which would have clearly indicated their purpose to the player. Even though I would argue that they’re a collectible just to be a collectible. They’re out of place. Little Nightmares already successfully implements the lanterns and chasing and hugging the Nomes. These actually have a purpose.
The lanterns and candles light up a bit more of the area, which is satisfying in a dark game. This isn’t always the case, however; sometimes you’re lighting lanterns when it’s not dark and so these lanterns feel more useless but you feel compelled to light them because there’s an achievement for it. I wish the lanterns would have been used more sparingly and with more purpose instead of as a collectible.
The Nomes, oh, yeah, I almost forgot, the website gives a name for what I previously called grey creatures, because why not? The Nomes are a great collectible because they’re inhabitants of The Maw, just like you. They’re real creatures. They’re scared but also easily trust others. We know nothing about these creatures except for our brief interactions with them. Chasing after them and finding where they ran off to doesn’t feel like a collectible. It feels more like character building, and even world building considering you have to search areas for them due to their very nature. Not to mention, the Nomes that you hugged will show up at the end, inferring that you saved the Nomes that you found.
What’s great about this is that we learn about these Nomes through the game itself and through their actions; we don’t need the website for these guys, and I can appreciate that.
The checkpoint system works solely due to the level design.
With that said, the checkpoint system is inherently flawed.
I want to clarify that most of the checkpoints are actually fine, but these checkpoints are only fine because they reside in short sections or rooms, such as the kid’s play room, where the entire section is a puzzle. Or the room where we have to crank the wheel and then sprint to the door. Or the room where the Janitor is wrapping children. Or where we distract the Janitor with the TV and make a run for it, but if we’re caught, we wake up in the TV room. These are all early checkpoints, but you get the point. Oh, and yes, the website gives lanky arm man the name Janitor.
While most of the checkpoints are fine, as I’ve said, these well-placed checkpoints only appear well-placed because of the room’s layout or length. This is due to the fact that the game places you where there was a clear room transition. And it just so happens that most of the rooms are small enough to where this isn’t an issue. However, because of this system, there are several checkpoints that inconvenience the player, and even some that set you back a ridiculous amount.
If we fall and die from moving the lever then jumping onto the hanging crate, the game places us all the way back before the shower room, meaning we have to run for a while, then climb for a while, then climb for a while again, all the way back to the lever that should have had a checkpoint.
If we turn to stone from the first watchful eye, then we’re placed down a hallway. At the very least, the game should have placed us next to the last door in the hallway.
If we fall to our death from the separating platforms, then we’re placed before the second Eye segment. Why would you place me before a segment I’ve already completed? Not to mention the Eye segments are slow and thoughtless. There’s no suspense. I couldn’t give a crap if Six died here other than to save time.
If we die trying to grab the key before using the elevator, we spawn back in the bathroom, which is fine. But if we die trying to grab the key after using the elevator, we spawn back on the first floor, meaning we have to spend more time riding the elevator back up to grab the key.
The kitchen with the key involves crouching past him, turning on the distraction, grabbing the key, taking the elevator, unlocking the door, and then hiding. However, if we miss the hiding spot and unsuccessfully try to escape through the vent, we’re placed aaall the way back to the very beginning. All they had to do was place you right before the sequence starts, in the distraction room. Instead, the checkpoint forces you to repeat the tedious crouching through the table undersides.
If we die from the chef grabbing us from the hook, it starts us after-the-fact, meaning the chef bursting through the door is unexpectedly hilarious rather than suspenseful.
So as you can see, while the checkpoint system works most of the time, there are several instances where the developers clearly didn’t consider adding another checkpoint or triggering certain checkpoints via events rather than room transitions.
The Leeches & Psychological Horror
The leeches are the first enemies we encounter in the game, and I think they’re overused.
To better convey my view on the leeches, first we must understand the atmosphere that Little Nightmares builds.
We begin our journey in a damp, dark place. The ambiance set by the sound effects, or sound effect -like backtrack, really pulls the atmosphere into place. The darkness settles within us, kept back only by the faint flickering of our lighter. Our insignificance conveyed by the zoom out and the massive chains, but soon we find ourselves in darkness once again. We’re taken aback by the sight of a hanged man, then a light and dark dichotomy used to shed light on some kind of black substance without compromising the escalating suspense as we quietly proceed with bated breath.
I was completely sold on the atmosphere at this point. This would have been the perfect setup for a fear of the unknown trope.
Instead, whoops, here’s a leech.
Little Nightmares had built up an amazingly creepy atmosphere up until now, and yet they go ahead and slap in physical horrors. Why does this matter?
Well, these leeches were laid out as the very first physical horror we see after the atmosphere had been established to contain some kind of unseen monster or force. It’s like building up a huge following and then dive bombing (No Man’s Sky reference).
Imagine hearing a rumble while pulling the plank off when trapped in the small room. Or maybe a creature nearby. You’d be on your toes, trying to be silent and letting the atmosphere take you in the process.
You end up falling down into a dark room, your rain jacket spattered with the black substance, which immediately makes you tense up due to what we’ve seen before with how there was a set of hands and a black substance left behind.
We frantically run and push the board down to escape, which was ingenious since it meant spending more time in the room struggling to escape rather than crouching through a hole or walking through a doorway unhindered. After escaping, we’re left to wonder what possible horrors could lie ahead after falling into such a dark room of whatever creatures those may have been.
Instead, we already know what these creatures are, as we’ve seen them fall and squirm around several times before. Seeing a leech for the first time is like putting a face to a name. Psychological horror is often times more effective than physical horror, and here is where I was slightly disappointed that they didn’t take advantage of this absolutely perfect scenario.
Of course, I can’t ignore the fact that dying in the leech room doesn’t make it scary anymore. It’s just an unfortunate consequence of the horror genre.
I also don’t think they took advantage of the pitch black darkness beyond the atmosphere-building in the beginning of the game. There was never any gameplay mixed in, any intense sequences where your lighter was truly your only friend. Little Nightmares has an obscene amount of psychological horror potential that is only experimented with occasionally throughout the game. The best example, besides the beginning of the game, is when The Lady disappears after you break the vase and then you proceed to have your lighter blown out as you’re left in darkness. That was one of my favorite moments.
I’m not a horror connoisseur or anything, I just know that the atmosphere, at least for me, kinda drifted off course once I saw the first leech.
However, Little Nightmares does continue its atmospheric trend with a children’s playroom, the cafeteria prison with the single child huddled up, the way Six is framed and the lighting flickers when given food, the petrified children who look like you; there’s always that mood being built up.
The lighting is absolutely ingenious. The game also actually sometimes shrouds you in total darkness, where you have to depend on your lighter. As I’ve already mentioned, I do wish the gameplay took advantage of that idea, beyond The Lady’s ephemeral moment. For instance, the Janitor is blind yet never uses darkness against you. There’s lost potential regarding darkness, but regarding light, Little Nightmares hits the mark.
We’ve already discussed several instances where the lighting really enhanced the game’s tone while highlighting events or important objects without feeling hand holdy.
But here are several more examples:
- The small room with the boards blocking the way that you can pull off. The light is very subtle but clearly illuminates the boards in front of you.
- Even after the light that highlights the cafeteria boy event, the exit is faintly illuminated.
- There’s nothing of interest in the shower room so the lighting reflects this.
- There’s light coming from the direction that the body bags are headed towards.
- The rat feast is another instance where the lighting subtly focuses on an objective and the same lighting flickers while the event is unfolding.
- Lighting draws the player’s attention to a specific piece of furniture in the Chef’s kitchen.
- When hiding in a room from the Chef, after pulling the elevator handle, the room itself has a more ambient lighting, just enough to notice the hiding place without drawing too much attention to it or not enough attention. Considering there’s nothing else in the room, focused lighting here would’ve been too much.
- Light will beam onto you as you float away on a hook from the Chefs, then darken as you’re dragged to safety. Followed by a bright light that clearly indicates a hole to crawl through; although, where is this light coming from? Is it that much brighter inside this fog area? Well… yes… but not until we reach the other side.
- Light will focus attention to the Guests at the tables, leaving the rest cast in shadows. Light also shines through cracked open doors, but doubles as a light that shows Six entering a room. This specific instance accentuates Six, the Guest, and Six being smashed into hot cakes. Although this does seem like a very odd place to hang a light, except I can’t even see where the hanging lamp would be, especially when the hanging lamp right next to it is quite visible.
None of these lighting set pieces feel unnatural and only enhance both the focus and atmosphere. Anything bothersome is just me examining under a microscope.
If an area or room doesn’t contain anything particularly interesting or the entire room is the focus, then the lighting will subtly reflect this by focusing on the center of the room, such as the Chef’s kitchen, bathroom, and meat grinder room, or darkness, at least relatively, will be utilized, such as the shower room.
The Eye Segments
When we walk up to an Eye segment, the Eye turns on. This was such a disconnect for me. Why would the Eye just now turn on? Did it sense us? If it sensed us, why isn’t it just watching the door to prevent you from escaping? If it is able to sense us, then why have the Eye in the first place, why not have the same kind of technology or magic installed into the floor. The very nature of the Eyes is more magic than technology since it turns children into stone, so none of it would feel odd in comparison.
Of course, we’re talking from a realistic standpoint here, not a gameplay standpoint. From a gameplay standpoint, the Eyes present no challenge and are just a waiting game, so the game would have been better without them.
Heck, at the very least, use this opportunity to create a suspenseful moment. Maybe the Eye is flickering but manages to turn itself back on while you’re in the middle of the room. Or even better, maybe it’s completely dark and you can hear a creature moving. Maybe there’s a creature that has a flashlight or a lantern that’s moving through the room with unpredictable pathing.
Of course, these are just random, unfiltered ideas I’m throwing around. Sure, the Eye might give us some insight into the story or world, but I don’t think it should be at the cost of a tense moment or something actually engaging.
Don’t Chase Me Daddy
The chase sequences occur throughout the entire game, I would say excessively so.
Even the very first chase sequence with the Janitor feels oddly sectioned in, because he randomly stops before the elevator to give you time to hide. That alone made this segment feel contrived.
I’m gonna be honest with you guys. On my first playthrough, I was absolutely convinced that the chase sequences were too tight, that you had to know a chase sequence was coming so you could start running right away.
But on my latest playthrough, I never had an issue except once. And for each chase sequence, I purposely started running after the chase started.
The one time I found the chase sequence to be too tight was with The Lady. I started running when the chase started and was caught.
However, I’ll get to The Lady and how her chapter falls apart later on.
Chapter 3: The Monstrosities That Await You
The Janitor is by far the most effective at maintaining suspense out of any of the monstrosities. Well… I would argue The Lady as well, but we’ll see why she doesn’t hold up.
While witnessing the horror of the children’s fate, we have to sneak past him, yet we step off the carpet onto the creaky floor, he reacts, and then we freak out and quickly make a run for it or jump onto the crate, or you retreat, either way. We jump from the crate to the carpet, desperately trying to avoid making noise.
Only for cranking open the floor door to make enough noise to attract him. As you’re finishing cranking, he runs at you, so you’re like… oh no… I better get outta here…. This is a great example of an adrenaline rush type of situation.
Not to mention, the sea of shoes where the fear of the unknown is implemented. There’s no way to know where the seemingly invisible monster will come at you from, and it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
I’ve already discussed the chase sequence, but regarding hiding in the elevator, this scene feels more scripted than organic, considering there’s only one place to hide and the game isn’t gonna let him find you in that spot.
There’s also a moment where books are falling to the floor as you climb but he doesn’t hear them, even though you’re right next to him….
We use a monkey to distract him; time our shoe throw and escape while the clocks deafen him; walk across reachable shelves while trying to avoid running into breakable objects; turn on a TV to draw him in so we can quietly sneak past him; crank a piano up, knowing the Janitor is running toward us and could show up at any second; time our run past his wall hand; and finally, a short chase sequence that ends with us collapsing a door and severing his arms from his body, which ends this chapter in such a satisfying way but also ends up being completely horrifying as his screaming just pierces you.
There are several points where we aren’t sure where he is, only to surprise us:
- The first chase sequence.
- The clock room.
- The hanging piano room.
- The hole in the wall.
- And the last chase sequence.
This gives us the impression that we should always be on our toes, that the Janitor doesn’t give up so easily, that he’s actually invested in capturing you.
There’s an abundance of variety, given the short length of these chapters. The fear of an oncoming threat, the fear of his enhanced hearing, and several variations such as taking advantage of his deafened state and avoiding making noise with different objects such as the creaky floorboards and the breakables that can be knocked to the floor below. Finally, the satisfying yet horrifying conclusion.
However, I do want to discuss the last scene we witness: the dismemberment of the cage that collapses the door and cuts off his arms.
There’s not enough indication of what to do here. I know some of you are going to disagree and say that you figured it out no sweat, but I had a couple of friends who were trying to climb the cages, jump and maybe grab something, who knows. The point is, this is actually a simple fix. Whenever there are climbable cages in Little Nightmares, it means that it leads somewhere or is used to progress in some fashion. The fact that these cages are climbable but are utterly useless until afterward is inconsistent. There’s already lighting that helps illuminate the objective, all we need to do here is remove the inconsistency and not mislead players.
The cage also doesn’t give much feedback. I’m sitting here pulling at the cage and not sure if anything is happening.
A fundamentally different approach was taken with the Chefs.
The most noticeable difference is that you always know where the Chefs are.
The kitchen segments were simple. I would compare them more to the Eye segments than anything relating to the Janitor, more so because these segments are just waiting for the Chef’s predictable pattern and then walking across the room to the other side.
Even the kitchen segment where you have to distract the Chef and then grab the key from the table wasn’t very suspenseful. Maybe it’s just because of the Chef’s design — being more grotesque than an actual threat — but this chapter made me slowly stop caring.
Or maybe it’s just the fact that the way the Janitor pushed at the importance of being quiet was more effective.
Or the fact that the Chefs never really took advantage of darkness… well… except once… but we’ll get to that.
Of course, I would argue that the Janitor could have easily utilized darkness to his advantage considering he’s blind and we’re not, but even then, nothing really compares to the wide-open kitchens that are filled with light.
I mentioned the Chef being more grotesque than an actual threat. There are hiding spots always right next to you. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can be absolutely reckless, but it does trivialize being spotted by them.
[For reader’s context: Video has a clip of me repeatedly being spotted then hiding and the Chef immediately acting like nothing happened.]
Okay… yeah, I take that back, you can be absolutely reckless.
The Chefs will look under certain tables, but it’s all for show. It’s impossible to be caught or even spotted when a Chef glances under a table. And I’ve actively tried. The Chefs don’t pose a threat. Once you find a hiding spot, which isn’t difficult, you’re immediately safe.
Let’s talk about my favorite segment with the Chefs, and that would be a segment that does, in fact, utilize darkness. Unexpectedly walking into a dark room to find a second Chef, sleeping. I’m gonna quietly crouch here because, as we all know, sleep can be a fickle little nightmare. But then… OOPS… I DROPPED THE KEY… time to hurriedly hide. This provides a tense moment that utilizes the darkness and the fact that you just woke a giant beast from his sleep.
I know it’s tough to conjure up dark scenarios when the predator has sight, so I can at least appreciate that they recognized this and thus created a sleeping scenario.
Let’s take a look at the Chef segments.
We wait and walk past him in the kitchen; travel amongst the rafters; grab the key from the sleeping giant, then proceed past the kitchen; send three meats into the grinder and swing on the sausage; call down the elevator but the Chef is in the elevator so hide; ride up the elevator and hide again; crouch through the second kitchen; turn on the distraction, key, elevator, open door, hide; casually run through the third kitchen, turn on the hooks, casually run back; grab a hook, wonder why they’re even bothering; drop, run, grab hook.
Three open kitchens where you have to walk or crouch from point A to point B. The Chefs are predictable and hardly a threat. There were only two times when I didn’t know where the Chefs were, only one of which worried me: The sleeping bedroom and the third kitchen hook. The sleeping Chef woke up then left, but you can still faintly hear him somewhere, so you can’t help but worry. When hanging from the hook in the third kitchen, one of the Chefs runs through a door. Oh no… where could he have gone while I’m too high up for their measly little arms? Perhaps on an elevated platform far away from me so I can let go without having to make any gut reactions?
Of course, we have the Chef bursting through the door, but that was more of a comic relief moment than a tense one.
When we call down the elevator only to find the Chef’s silhouette, that was actually a shock. Although the suspense soon wore off when all that happens is hide, walk to elevator, then hide in the only nearby hole. The game gives you plenty of time too, not to mention you would think the Chef would at least check the hole right next to him, given that the door blocked our escape.
Maybe you could call the meat grinder a “puzzle”, but I wouldn’t consider grinding meat into sausages without any sense of looming threat to be productive toward a game meant to be suspenseful.
There was a severe lost potential regarding puzzles. The kitchens were open with roaming monsters, why not combine the kitchens with the puzzles? This was the perfect opportunity because integrating puzzles in these open areas would actually make this chapter more tense. You’d be forced to hurry and solve or move something, especially if the hiding places were placed further away. It would force you to know when you should be out in the open and when you should play it safe. There’s that sense of dread when you’re far away from safety.
The Chef chapter has none of this. There was a hiding place every two feet and they guaranteed safety. The kitchens were simple treks from point A to point B. The only type of so-called “puzzle” regarding the kitchens was finding a key then unlocking a door.
- Walk across the first kitchen, find a key in a bedroom, walk back across the kitchen.
- Crouch across the second kitchen, press a button, then run back with a key.
It’s such a straightforward running back and forth through fairly open areas. The third kitchen does the exact same thing but without utilizing a key and locked door. Instead, run across without worrying about being spotted, then hide to instantly be safe, turn on the switch, run back, and climb up plates, all without having to worry about anything.
I will say, having two places where you can climb up to grab a hook is at least scratching at the surface for what an open area like this can offer.
The Guest chapter showcases gluttony at its finest and relies on chase sequences for its suspense. And we know how excessive chase sequences can really enhance a game.
With that said, Little Nightmares actually tries its darndest to vary the chase sequences, and I can certainly respect that.
The Guests arrive during an amazing zoom out where we actually get a decent glimpse of The Maw.
We see a hungry hippo up-close and personal, before sliding through the door for what may arguably be one of my favorite parts in the entire game. I could not stop laughing for a minute straight. The segment itself, however, is just a chase sequence.
We swing from a light while a Guest tries to reach for us, obviously scripted so there’s no threat or reason to care.
The most suspenseful part has to be the table where, similar to the leech haven, we have to frantically dodge and weave a very real threat.
We soon have some blobs falling over for a non-threat chase.
Followed by a Guest that actually forces us back where we have to jump off of him. That was certainly unexpected and a welcome variation.
And finally, the last chase sequence is a no-holds-barred deadly mass of flesh. Having to climb, jump, and dodge while the music crescendos was a rather climactic way to finish off this chapter. Albeit a very short chapter, but a chapter nonetheless.
The chase sequences are rather excessive, or at least they felt excessive due to how short this chapter was. They could have experimented some more and mixed in other ideas in between the chase sequences, but at least these chases are varied.
Okay, the Chef did make a guest appearance, but all he’s here for is to lock you into the bathroom where you’re left alone trying to figure out how to escape. This is just another example of how there’s no looming threat involved, similar to the meat grinder room.
The Lady’s chapter is extremely short, even shorter than the Guest chapter, and it shows because this chapter gives us so much potential. It honestly feels like the game was rushed at this point. I know this isn’t the case, but when there’s so much lost potential and the chapters drastically decrease in length throughout the game, I can’t help but say that this game feels like a lacking experiment.
In either case, we’re now in the presence of The Lady.
We sneak through her bedroom while she hums a haunting melody. A very.. repetitive.. melody. But at least she tries…
Either way, this segment happens to be one of the most effective at creating a tense fear of the unknown. We break open the vase and quickly hide, but she doesn’t come into the room. So we grab the key and… oh crap… where is she…? Not to mention, the subtle sounds and backtrack is absolutely ingenious. A version of her melody is now subtly and hauntingly part of the atmosphere — slow and looming, on top of the tense droning sound mixed in. So even though she’s no longer here, it feels like her presence is.
The lighting draws your eyes to the wardrobe; you can’t help but wonder if she’s going to surprise you, but she doesn’t, so the intensity continues.
Little Nightmares actually maintains this looming dread. We unlock the door only to be greeted by darkness. We turn on our lighter, but then… whoosh… oh no…
CHASE SEQUENCE… what is this?!
Okay… here me out… The Lady’s chapter thus far kept me entirely immersed, besides the repetitive melody. How the lighter blew out when the door closed, on top of the breath coming from Six, felt as if the room suddenly grew cold.
So much effort was put into creating this scene, why would you then slap in a chase sequence? Imagine you’re taking it slow, trying to be quiet by crouching or walking while keeping an eye out, with bated breath, but then you die. I’m walking, oh no she’s after me so I start running… nope… you gotta start running exactly when the chase starts.
But even then, there’s so much potential here without having to resort to a cheap, easy-way-out chase sequence. There are mannequins everywhere. Just off the top of my head, imagine if you heard sounds, or her humming, or rustling of objects or feet, or perhaps take advantage of the darkness — maybe she’s standing as one of the mannequins but it’s hard to tell until your lighter is close enough, but she disappears before you can confirm anything. Perhaps you start seeing things.
These ideas I’m spouting off is just quick brainstorming based off of the environment.
Not to mention, right after that hallway, we find an open room with more mannequins. When I first found this room, I was crouching, ‘cause I didn’t know where The Lady was….
When I pulled a board off and hurried inside, I finally felt safe. I felt that rush of relief. Of course, I didn’t feel nearly as relieved as I would’ve felt if the game kept up the suspensefulness instead of slapping in a chase sequence, but either way there was some resemblance of relief, no matter how minor.
We grab an unbroken mirror, again it doesn’t make sense how obviously placed this is and how it isn’t broken. Ignoring this fact, however, we now approach The Lady and burn her to death several times with some kind of mirror magic. The intensity does rise slightly as she circles around and runs at you multiple times, but overall you just have to spin around… I do find this boss fight rather engaging, however, and I loved how they experimented with the boss formula.
Finally, we beat her, eat her, and then absorb the Guests.
Eating the lady was rather startling and was overall an effective moment, despite the forced build up with the rat and the Nome. That build up just didn’t make any sense.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought that the game was going to take a turn after this event, or rather, just continue. Instead, the game ends…. While it is pretty shocking that it ends there, I believe I’ve figured out why it feels this way.
The entire scene with The Lady, eating her neck, and then using her power felt like the Climax of the game. There was no Falling Action, no Resolution, only Climax.
And really… that’s it. My thoughts on this matter end as suddenly as the game itself.
Little Nightmares does not feel fleshed out in terms of experimenting with ideas. The story ended up more relevant than necessary and pulled me away from the gameplay and atmosphere. Even then, the gameplay comprises puzzles separate from any sense of threat, excessive chase sequences, and inconsistent suspense.
While I appreciate experimenting enough to give me moments of genuine laughter, Little Nightmares proved too shallow.
We witnessed a drastic decrease in length and experimentation throughout the game. Even my favorite Chapter with the Janitor, while it took advantage of his blindness and enhanced hearing with the carpet, it never thought to combine him with total darkness where it would be just you and your lighter.
We see a hint of this when The Lady closes the door and extinguishes your flame, leaving you with a chill running down your spine. But The Lady suffers from length more than anyone and isn’t given enough time to be truly fleshed out.
However, Little Nightmares is a great start. It’s overall a good game that certainly breaks your expectations, I’m just severely disappointed to the point where the game shouldn’t have ended so quickly and should have fleshed out its ideas. The Chefs and The Lady in particular, both have amazing potential, and I loved the atmosphere and the suspense that The Lady gave me. But that’s the problem… the lost potential. I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.
Thanks for Watching
Thank you so much for taking the time to watch until the end (or, in this case, read). It truly means a lot to me. I would love to hear your thoughts on Little Nightmares, or general comments, I try to reply to everyone.
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I want to thank BoukenJima for his mad proofreading skills. This video would be fluffier without him.
His What If Platformers Had Fighting Game Motions video is definitely worth the watch. I’m so glad he went through with the idea, because I loved it. I’m personally not a fan of fighting game motions, but he brings up excellent points that I never even thought about.
I’ll have his video and other video essays I enjoyed up on the screen.
Oh, and gosh dang I found an amazing Little Nightmares fan art of Six.