From the Vault – Little Nightmares

Little Nightmares is a name that provides adequate explanation of the game it represents – a short, indie puzzle-platformer that focuses on eerie atmosphere and a very limited ability to fight back, creating a memorable 3-4 hours of avoiding death at all turns. Released in 2017, the artistic style and simple gameplay was a welcome treat in a market that was beginning to tire with the focus on open-world ‘box ticks’ that sapped weeks of time. Dropping players in a dark space and letting them figure out what the hell is happening (if they ever do) saw the revival of horror built on setting, soundtrack and simplicity. Little Nightmares is a gem that is currently available for free download on PS Plus (base tier and beyond).

Wearing nothing but a yellow raincoat, protagonist six navigates the jail-like first chapter checking each room for tips on how to proceed. Climb piles of books, swing above a butcher chopping meat or dash through tight spaces with fingers scraping the back of your neck. When we start to reach following chapters, the challenge ramps up as flabby creatures with giant arms or stomachs reach out to eat or maim you. As the story unravels (no cutscenes needed) and we start to understand the message trying to be delivered, a deep appreciation for social commentary within artistic yet horrific game dawn. There are twists and collectables (watch out, gnomes), and every room is delicately designed to tap into childhood torment, but the true appeal comes from not knowing when a hand will reach out of a vent or a villain will simply turn their head and notice you hanging from a lightbulb above. Sometimes I had to mute the music because it made the level that much more difficult, ramping up the energy and heart rate. 

Few titles manage to achieve intrigue, challenge and scare while not overcomplicating survival systems. Little Nightmares is not a game you’ll spend 20 hours on. It serves best as a run-and-done game between longer experiences. But it did spawn a sequel, with talk of the third on the way. If you haven’t downloaded it from the PS Store for free yet, please do – your next meal will not be the same.

PROS: 

  • Atmospheric audio that captures the gamer
  • Artistic graphics
  • Challenging puzzles 

CONS: 

  • Too short, does not extend past a few hours
  • Low replay value if all collectibles are found
  • Easy final boss

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PROS:  Atmospheric audio that captures the gamer Artistic graphics Challenging puzzles  CONS:  Too short, does not extend past a few hours Low replay value if all collectibles are found Easy final bossFrom the Vault - Little Nightmares