Little Nightmares review (Xbox One)

Little Nightmares took the gaming world by storm when it was revealed to the masses during the summer of last year. How does the final product shape up? We played the Xbox One version to find out.

Judging by this week alone, Swedish developer Tarsier Studios seems like the most prolific development studio in the world. Besides Little Nightmares, they also have the excellent Statik coming out on Playstation VR. They’re only just emerging as lead developers now though, after previously contributing to games like LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway Unfolded. Judging from Statik and Little Nightmares, they’re a force to be reckoned with.

Little Nightmares was properly announced and presented during last year’s Gamescom. It also walked away with the ‘best indie game’ title, which was a tad ironic in terms of how it showcased how mainstream ‘indie’ had really become. Little Nightmares was going to be published by Bandai Namco, and their booth at Gamescom was enormous. Speaking to a few smaller indie developers, it felt a little like David vs Goliath – where Goliath won this time. Luckily, not without merit.

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If I had to describe Little Nightmares in a nutshell, I’d say it’s a bit like Unravel meets The Nightmare on Elm Street with hints of Inside. It’s a side-scrolling platform puzzler with a large emphasis on a dark and creepy atmosphere.

Your role is that of a little girl called Six, trapped inside a huge ship called The Maw. The scale of your surroundings is such that at times you actually feel like you’ve been miniaturized – which makes the creatures that inhabit the game world even more freaky and scary. You yourself, in contrast, look very innocent with your tiny physique and your bright yellow raincoat on.

Since you’re at a natural disadvantage, you’ll often rely on stealth and trickery to get past the dangers that stand in the way of you and your escape. As such, a nice blend between platforming and puzzle-solving materializes – crafting an experience that’s certain to appeal to fans of Inside and Unravel. It has a very different theme though, closer to Inside’s gloomy setting than Unravel’s fairytale-like storytelling.

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The game is incredibly well-polished, and it’s one of those titles that are a joy to watch as well as a joy to play. Its controls can feel a little loose or imprecise at times (compared to straight up platformers) but it’s something that’s easy to forgive. Load times on the Xbox One were long though, so a frustrating death does mean that you get to linger in that emotion for a while instead or diving right back in.

Little Nightmares is on the shorter end with a playthrough length of about 4 to 5 hours, but it has a gentle price tag to match. As such, this is an essential purchase for those who enjoy the similar games that we mentioned earlier – as long as you appreciate the visual style that Little Nightmares is going for. We sure did.

Score: 8.4/10

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