Little Nightmares ($20, PS4, Xbox One, and PC) is, in terms of presentation, a slickly polished bit of business. Everything is just-so creepy and out of scale, just distorted enough to be disturbing without being gross, just grim enough to be scary without being over-the-top. And if presentation were everything, that’d be enough. Unfortunately, underneath the gloss there’s just not much you haven’t played before.
The basic plot has you as a child in a yellow rain slicker, trapped below decks on a seemingly endless decrepit ship. With only a lighter, you’ll need to dodge creepy adults, blood-sucking leeches and other threats as you hop over gaps and shove boxes to figure out what’s going on and escape. The story sticks by the rule that the less you explain in horror, the better; much of what’s happening will remain mysterious even after you knock out the game in three to five hours.
Unfortunately it also applies this to bits like the controls. While it’s a minor thing quickly solved by fiddling around, Little Nightmares does a poor job of explaining itself. Not helping matters is the game’s platforming puzzles are either fairly conventional box-pushing and gap jumping, or clearing the area is a matter of luck, not skill. And since this game has an unforgiving single hit point and sparse autosaving, you’ll often have to repeat chunks of it over and over again.
If you’re a fan of sound design and graphics, Little Nightmares is worth a playthrough. But if you were hoping that innovative presentation would be paired with some innovative gameplay, look elsewhere.
Verdict: Worth A Chance
This review was written with Xbox One review codes provided by the publisher.