Ponty’s Friday Video Game Review: Little Nightmares

It’s the witching season—the time for all sorts of ghoulish, spooky things to go down—and what better way to toy with dark forces than via video games?

Good ol’ Ponty has been dying to review this game for some time now, and he has finally delivered the goods—tasteful bedroom photos of his allegedly hot girlfriend.

Oh, wait—wrong e-mail [just kidding, Tina—Ponty wouldn’t do such a thing, and I wouldn’t ask]!  No, no, Ponty has offered up his review of Little Nightmares, a game of Tim Burton-esque grotesquery.

It’s long sat in my Steam library, just waiting to be played; after the Spooktacular this weekend, I will have to do just that!

With that, here is Ponty’s review of Little Nightmares:

What does anyone want from a relationship with the opposite sex? Someone with a lot in common – interests, hobbies, ambitions. Looks aren’t a pre-requisite but hey, if you’re lucky enough, you get that thrown into the bargain too. Are you lucky enough to be dating a gamer? There are more women getting into gaming but how many do you know who have evolved through the transition of gaming throughout the decades? Well, dear reader, in that respect, I’m the luckiest guy in the world. God gave me a woman who is not only beautiful on the inside and out, a woman with a great sense of humour and intelligent to boot but he also gave me a gamer! That’s jackpot, baby!

Tina and I have been gaming since cartridges and tapes. Since Pong and Space Invaders, Manic Miner and the introduction of story based games, 3D environments and ever increasing graphics. We’ve played all sorts, on practically every platform, but the games we especially love tend to be dark, moody and interesting. We like to be immersed in a game and throw in the odd puzzle or strategy and you have a winner. With this in mind, amongst the modern day plethora of action and sports games, we decided to have a look for a puzzle/strategy game we could get into and a couple of years ago, we alighted on an intriguing prospect from Tarsier Studios – Little Nightmares. The picture on the box – of Six, the game’s protagonist, facing a door while a creepy old hand climbs the table behind her – grabbed me in an instant and on reading more, as well as checking out some of the screen captures for the game, it was enough for Tina to add it to basket and buy it for my birthday. And I’m glad she did. From the moment I saw that cover – with its De Chirico-esque blend of light and dark – I wanted that game.

Little Nightmares Poster

The game opens with Six, a little girl in a yellow rain mac, awakening into what can best be described as a Dickensian nightmare. There’s no opening sequence where you’re given a backstory. Aside from a few seconds shot of a mysterious woman, it goes straight into the game and you have to work out your surroundings with Six. When you finally play it, you’ll understand why I describe this nightmare as Dickensian – gargantuan industry, harsh metal, chains and hooks, fires and obese, disgusting denizens who only ever stop eating when their greedy eyes alight on Six. This game is unimaginably creepy though Six’s presence adds a playful innocence to the situation – the sweet sounds of the music box subtle, the heavy trombone conspicuous when you come into contact with the various inhabitants of Six’s nightmare.

As she moves from place to place, room to room, her surroundings offer up new challenges and further threats and though the backgrounds to this creepy little platform change, there is still that air of familiarity where even a plain wallpapered room can appear threatening and dangerous. After all, one of the doors could flip open at any time and you could find yourself in the fat hands of the chefs or the long arms of the janitors. That said, it never pays to be either too cautious or too foolhardy. If you are snatched, you’ll start again at your last save point and you can start your search again.

There are 4 chapters in the game when you start but there are 3 more which can be accessed for free by DLC (downloadable content) called The Secrets of The Maw. It’s quick and easy to do and that will give you 3 more decent chapters to explore, each with their own puzzles and menaces. It also comes with a new character, known as The Runaway Kid, and he will explore the below depths of The Maw, parts of the ship Six doesn’t see. Fortunate really when you consider some of the creatures of the depths:

At the end of the 4th chapter, Six will come face to face with the lady she dreamt about at the very beginning of the game but before then, you will have to negotiate Six through a series of challenging chapters and past the various threats in each area. Trust me when I say you will be chased a lot. Either by hiding, sneaking or providing distractions, Six will give herself a good chance of moving through her environment but even so, it still jolts the old heart when one of the threats is alerted to your presence.

The controls are easy enough to use but you’ll have to remember that unlike other games, where you might jump to a ledge and your character will automatically grab it, you will need to hold a button as you begin your ascent, just as you do when you pick up an object. These are old school controls, the sort you might have found in the original Tomb Raider. It appears some gaming journalists (I use the word journalist here through gritted teeth) aren’t big fans of these sorts of controls but hey, I say adapt. If you’ve been playing games through the decades, every game and every console will offer different challenges and if you don’t like it, well, don’t play it. For me, it’s a flimsy way to downmark a game but this is the world of game journalism; I once saw a review in the tech supplement of the Sunday Times a few years ago which gave a 5 star rating to a game where the graphics were great but nothing happened. I can’t remember the game in question but I do remember the reviewer saying that the game looked great but there was nothing to do in it. That’s one good reason to ignore what the journos say and check out new titles for yourself. Anyway, back to it.

There are pick ups in the game which, one presumes, rewards you if you collect all of them; in each chapter, you are required to hug a certain amount of Nomes and break statues. Many of these are incredibly difficult to spot and Tina and I have yet to find all of them. It’s not a requirement to do these side missions but it certainly helps, in terms of exploration, to seek them out. On chapters 5-7, you are also asked to locate Flotsam bottles to uncork. As I said, this is superfluous to the journey you are taking but if you can find the collectibles, then you have done well in exploring all of your environment whilst evading the various challenges the game presents.

I love Little Nightmares for several reasons. The overall look of it – the shadowy halls and rooms of The Maw (the ship in which the game takes place) – the strategy and exploration, the surprises, the denizens and guests on The Maw. The soundtrack is gorgeous too, a perfect blend of innocence and sinister. This game is best played at night, with the curtains closed and the lights off so you can get completely immersed in the environment. Whether you’re hiding, trying to solve a puzzle or gain access to another area, this game will pull you in and wrap you up in Six’s nightmare. But be careful. You are never completely alone and sooner or later, your presence will alert something else.

Little Nightmares – Platforms:

PS4, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Stadia. LN1 and 2 can also be bought on Steam, to be played on PC.

Coming soon: Little Nightmares 2 and the delights of the Teacher, the Mannequins and Thin Man.

4 thoughts on “Ponty’s Friday Video Game Review: Little Nightmares

  1. Cheers for the intro, mate. It made both Tina and I laugh! For a second, I wondered where you were going with that! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful article! You can always tell when a writer really cares about his topic – it shows. Since yesterday, I’ve been watching a lot of Little Nightmares videos – I find them fascinating. But in the video “the janitor scenes”, in the body of this article, Six is running around with a teapot on her head! She also has a torch (flashlight as we Yanks would say). How in the world is she supposed to save herself if she can’t see??? Why can’t she just take the pot off her head? I hope the answers to these questions doesn’t blow some big surprise in game but … why?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Some people might use a teapot, others might go for a bag. I like the traditional mac and tend to stick to that. Even with the torch, visibility is low – that’s why I mentioned playing it in the dark; you don’t want glare on the screen when you’re doing those parts.

      As for watching the videos, if you plan to play the games, which I hope you do, be careful how many you watch. You don’t want to ruin the surprise.

      Poor Six gets chased a lot in these games but she spends a good amount of time working out how to get from place to place and hiding from the monsters. In lighter moments, there is still darkness to them – for instance, what does Six do when she gets hungry? That part will shock the hell out of you when you play it.

      Liked by 1 person

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