Little Nightmares is one of my absolute favorite indie games of all time. SBR member Czar Tog even calls it his favorite game ever. Developed by Tarsier Studios, it ventures towards a world unlike any other. Recently, Czar Tog, RyMx01, and I spent some time running through the game. Afterwards we sat down and discussed the different points of the adventure that are outlined below. Little Nightmares is a unique and entertaining experience with some of the best artistic choices I’ve personally seen. It’s story is great but is taken up a notch with the DLC and I cannot wait for the second installment in the franchise. Let me know in the comments below if you agree with our rating of Little Nightmares!
Story (7 / 10)
The plot of Little Nightmares is dark and creepy but for some reason one of the most attractive and interesting I’ve come across. Tarsier Studios truly encapsulates what it means to show don’t tell. From there start you’re just as lost and confused as Six, the character you play throughout the main game. As you make your way through the game more of the world is revealed to you. And that’s really how the story progresses. Little Nightmares isn’t as much a game centered around a story as it is following a character as they traverse a dangerous and confusing world. And interestingly enough, that is both this game’s strength and weakness when it comes to story. It’s an amazing adventure that isn’t supposed to be clear. Its confusing lore and diverse characters will either bore you or envelope your thoughts during and after a playthrough. The story is centered around the exploration of the world that’s put in front of you. And while dark and creepy it is an amazing world to discover.
The best part of the story is the DLC. After beating the base game I highly recommend checking out the DLC as it has more diverse gameplay and explores the world in another way. But on top of that, it ties together the world and the story of the first game that makes the first game exceptionally higher quality.
Replayability (7 / 10)
Little Nightmares has some decent replayability for a puzzle game but nothing major. There are a lot of collectibles and sections of the game you may have missed before. But outside of that the game does suffer from the replayability issues we see in many puzzle games. Once you beat the game the puzzles lose their challenge. After the challenge is gone so is a large part of the game’s appeal. There are some chase sections but they’re relatively linear, there is no right way to do it per se but there is a best way, and that best way isn’t hard to determine on your first run through.
Challenge (9 / 10)
As with many puzzle-based games, Little Nightmares is faced with the task of creating puzzles that are diverse, difficult but not impossible, and above all: fun. Tarsier Studios does a phenomenal job of this. While some sections may seem redundant, the diversity of enemies, environments, and tasks allow for consistent challenge throughout the game without being overly difficult all the time. Of course there is always a puzzle or two that stumps someone but they’re far and in between.
Graphics & Art (10 / 10)
If there is anything about this game that makes it worth playing it’s the art style. It’s a very unique and appealing aesthetic that doesn’t hold back anywhere. The forced perspective allows the art to be portrayed in absolutely stunning ways, often using size to express the “small fish in a big pond” feel mixed with horror. It’s gross but not the shun your eyes kind of gross. The developers could not have chosen a better art style for their game, it perfectly captures the feel of everything they were aiming for.
Uniqueness (10 / 10)
Little Nightmares is an extremely unique game. I’ve yet to come across a 3D side-scroller with an art-style and world so in sync with one another that consistently provides a solid level of challenge and intrigue. If you ever forget the name of the game just by describing it you can likely get someone to know what game you’re talking about even if they’ve only seen the trailer. The Little Nightmares experience is like no other.
Entertaining (10 / 10)
Little Nightmares is a relatively short game. But between the enjoyable and challenging gameplay, the unraveling world, and the shocking events that take place it’s an extremely fun short game. The level of challenge lets you enjoy the game without being overly frustrated, and as you delve further into the game and maybe even the DLC (highly recommend) the gameplay gets a bit more complex and the world changes. The more you play, the more you want to play.
Gameplay (8 / 10)
The gameplay in this game is great. It’s not hard to pick up and understand how to navigate the world you’ve fallen into. It’s pretty intuitive but it doesn’t necessarily change. Some of the puzzles are different and when you delve into the DLC the gameplay does shift up quite a bit. But outside of that it’s the same gameplay throughout. And while it’s fun, it can make it difficult to distinguish the evolution of your character outside of the story.
Game Length (8 / 10)
As discussed above, Little Nightmares is a pretty short game. Even with the DLC the total length is around 3 - 5 hours depending on how difficult you find the individual puzzles. But the base game itself did feel short, and just short of the “short enough to make me want more but long enough to leave me content”. If it weren’t for the option of DLC I’d have had to give this a slightly lower score. 3 hours of content for a puzzle game isn’t terrible, and it’s a really good 3 hours. But taking into account the price of the game ($20 for base) and the lack of diverse gameplay within the base game it’s difficult to give this a higher score. Had the game been as long as both the DLC and the base game combined it would be perfect.
Collectibles (10 / 10)
The collectibles in this game are some of the better sets of collectibles I’ve seen, especially for a puzzle game. As you traverse the world you come across little Nomes you can hug, candles you can light, and statues you can break. All of them feel natural to interact with and fit perfectly into the world. Sticking out while blending in at the same time. The collectibles unlock achievements but more than that they unlike concept art and art from the game that’s accessible from the in-game menu. And to top it off, the game is very clear about how many collectibles you have and don’t have in each section, making 100%ing the game much less of a headache.
Soundtrack (8 / 10)
Horror games and thrillers play around with soundtracks and their use in ways that other genres don’t. There was nothing truly memorable about Little Nightmares’ soundtrack. That’s not to say the soundtrack was bad, but rather it wasn’t a dominant. Which is actually a good thing. In many games, you’ll find that they are at their best when the soundtrack is loud, catchy, and evokes strong emotion. But with a horror / thriller game like this one the absence of music is often the best choice. Little Nightmares did have a soundtrack and it appeared when it was supposed to and was silent when it needed to be. That being said, there are some moments in the game where the music could have been more, but overall it was good for the game.