Little Nightmares: Complete Edition Switch Review
You wake up in the Maw and your journey as Six, who is a young child, begins. There is no narration, no words just a dark dreary place for you to explore and escape from. This game uses visual storytelling and interaction to tell its story and what a little story it is. What is the Maw? well, that would be spoiling it for you.
The developers presume that you will work out the story along this nightmarish adventure and there are plenty of clues everywhere, you just need to look. I have to say when the credits rolled I was left with a lot of questions. I was able to piece things together, from my point of view, but no doubt there are quite a few theories out there.
If you are going to pick this up it may require a couple of playthroughs just to piece it all together. The great thing about this edition is being able to play the game as another character, The Kid, which is the DLC included with this version. You are able to discover more of the story from a differing perspective playing as another child. I don’t want to spoil any of the story as part of the fun on this one is working it out. Be aware this is a nightmare full of nasty things that want nothing more than you dead. Working out why that is a question you will no doubt want answering by the end and will keep you hooked.
The Audio in Little Nightmares is fantastic at setting an atmosphere where you feel like you are never safe; creaks, noises from creatures, footsteps, screeches, bottles being knocked over. You dare not make a noise for the fear of being heard and caught by one of the enemies.
As the player, you’re trying to be as quiet as possible. The game is phenomenal at making you feel like there is a presence even when there isn’t and making your heart race when you hear something that you know is going to mean running for your life. There isn’t music as such just a bunch of very atmospheric noises that are used to creep you out. I think the Audio part of the game is very clever and also one of the very best aspects of the game.
A good example is when you come across a pursuer and you can hear your heart racing as they know you are there. As you find a hiding place in the shadows, never has it been so terrifying waiting to be caught. The game does a great job of using sound to raise your own heart rate that’s for sure.
Visuals and Performance
The game uses lighting to perfection in my view. Six has a lighter that she can use to illuminate the immediate areas but the game is about staying in the shadows as much as possible. I love the way Six is depicted, wearing her yellow raincoat which makes her really stand out against the dark backgrounds. The difference in this game is in how it is a 2D game but it uses depth to really add details to the levels. The fact you can also control your player to move left and right as any normal 2D game but then allows you to move forwards and backwards really adds to the immersion. It also allows for some fantastic exploration and experimentation.
The enemies look grim and nasty and just look darn right scary, the enemy with a distorted body in terms of dimensions, having extra long arms but a really short body has entered my nightmares. Always searching with his hands as you hide high up on a shelf, you are within a fingernail of being grabbed and it being game over. It’s these moment’s where the game shows its visual flair and design. Animations are just so smooth and beautiful even if the things being animated are not!
The camera in the game is also very good, panning out at moments adding to the drama and giving you, as the player, differing perspectives. The game for Switch is fantastically optimised and I enjoyed playing both on the move and in docked. Although with this one I did really enjoy docked mode so I could pick out all those important little details this game has buried in it.
A worthy mention is the game has no slowdown and runs perfectly both in docked and handheld mode on the Switch which is pure joy. The developers have done a wonderful job with this port for sure. For those wanting to know it runs at 30 FPS.
If you have played Inside or Limbo then this has similar themes running throughout, child protagonists, puzzle platformers with a dark twisted style with a story told with a visual narrative. Little nightmares can be described as a puzzle platformer with stealth and hide and seek elements thrown in. As Six you can sprint, jump, grab and hold onto, crouch, creep and pick up things to throw. You cannot kill enemies and death is a one-hit affair. If an enemy finds you it’s game over, fall too far from a ledge and it’s death.
As Six you always feel tense, you never know what little horrors are going to greet you around the corner or what puzzle you are going to be confronted with. The game likes to show you it’s enemies in all their glory and the developer Tarsier Studios never shies away from showing you what you are going to confront. Each enemy controls certain chapters, for example, the creature with long arms will confront you in chapter two, the horribly deformed cooks in chapter three and the woman who haunts Sixes dreams will be confronted at some point later in the game. The enemies are especially gratifying to get passed and it’s these parts of the game that are really enjoyable seeking the best path to get past them without being seen.
Puzzles also have to be solved and you will come across some rooms where it looks like there is no way out, only for you to realise you can pull out the draws on a filing cabinet to make a staircase as just one example of the clever ways you can interact with the levels themselves. None of them are especially difficult to solve but they are satisfying in how clever they are.
For completionists out there, there are little statues to find and nomes which run around and are all there to be found in the darkest areas. The games use of lighting is superb and as Six you will need to know when to use your light without alerting enemies and when to just stick to the shadows. At first, you are confronted by these black sludge worms which are repulsive, if they manage to grab you then it is game over. You will come across an eye that shines a light that if you get caught by it, you will turn to stone.
Later on, the game has larger enemies which you have to avoid for the whole level by sneaking through, sticking to the shadows and not making a sound. These parts are tense and a real pleasure when you manage to accomplish them. There are also sprint sections where you have to get away from a certain enemy which makes for some real heart-pounding action. The game is so expertly crafted and for the most part, an utter joy to play, except for dying. Yep, that will happen a lot so be prepared.
There is also the option to play as The Kid where you can play the game from a differing perspective, where instead of a lighter to light your path you find a torch to light up the dark sections, there is also a lot of water sections to give another differing environment to wade through, however, the gameplay is essentially the same. It just allows you to see more of The Maw from a differing angle.
I have a few gripes that do sour the experience a little for me. First of all the controls are not in my opinion as tight as they could be. Sometimes you need to grab onto something quickly or it’s curtains but the delay at times is so frustrating especially when death happens often and the loading time to get back into playing takes 20 seconds or more per time.
Button placement is odd, having Y as sprint and then B as jump means you have to use your thumb for both actions which can at times be a pain especially when needing to be accurate. I would have preferred one of the trigger buttons to be the sprint button as it would have just been easier to control. There is no D-pad use either so it’s analogue only. Another issue is understanding where you are in the environment at times. Due to the level design, you will often miss jumps or fall off of thin pipes that you need to walk across. This is because pressing forwards or backwards will make Six walk in that direction so some adjustment by the player is required. All of these are small gripes in what is otherwise a wonderful game.
The game is $29,99 or £29.99 respectively. Little Nightmares will take you no longer than 4 hours to complete then add another few hours to find all the collectables. The game isn’t long but this is one of those cases where I can fully recommend this one purely for the experience Little Nightmares gives you.
This is one game that I have completed and I want to play it again. Factor in that this is the complete edition with all DLC. The DLC adds another hour to the game, for those that like to use their Amiibo with their games, well if you have the Pacman Amiibo this will work with the game to give you a little surprise. Yes, it could have been priced a little bit more competitively especially with all the games on the eshop but if you like horror games like Inside or Limbo, or just want to experience something a little different I would buy this without question. If you are a collector then the physical version will cost you around £32.99 from Amazon which you can purchase below.
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Great Visual Storytelling
Controls could be tighter
Loading times when death occurs are painful
Game is short