Little Nightmares is a puzzle-platform horror adventure game developed by Tarsier Studios and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment for PlayStation 4, Windows and Xbox One, released in 2017. A Nintendo Switch version was released in May 2018, followed by a Google Stadia version in June 2020 and mobile versions were released on 12 December 2023 and published by Playdigious. Set in a mysterious world, Little Nightmares follows the journey of Six, a hungry little girl who must escape the Maw, an iron vessel inhabited by monstrous, twisted beings. The game received positive reviews upon release with critics praising its atmosphere, gameplay, graphics, and sound while criticizing its checkpoint system and short length. A follow-up, Little Nightmares II, was released in February 2021, and a third entry in the series, Little Nightmares III, is in development by Supermassive Games.

Little Nightmares
Developer(s)Tarsier Studios[a]
Publisher(s)Bandai Namco Entertainment[b]
  • Henrik Larsson
  • Oscar Wemmert
  • Emma Mellander
  • Dennis Talajic
  • Asger Kristiansen
Programmer(s)Mattias Ottvall
  • Per Bergman
  • Christer Johansson
  • Sebastian Bastian
Writer(s)Dave Mervik
  • Tobias Lilja
  • Christian Vasselbring
EngineUnreal Engine 4[3]
  • PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
  • 28 April 2017[1]
  • Nintendo Switch
  • 18 May 2018
  • Stadia
  • 1 June 2020[2]
  • Android, iOS
  • 12 December 2023
Genre(s)Puzzle-platform, survival horror

Gameplay edit

Little Nightmares takes place in a 2.5D world. The player traverses the world through various platformer elements, occasionally being blocked by puzzles that must be solved to proceed. The player is generally rendered helpless in their environment due to the lack of any combat abilities and must rely on stealth and the environment to hide from the various enemies. On a few occasions, the player is given tools that even the odds slightly and allow them to fight back and kill them.

Plot edit

Six, a nine-year-old girl in a yellow raincoat, awakens from a dream of a woman wearing a kimono and a Noh mask. Equipped with only a lighter, she sneaks through the bowels of the Maw, a massive, underwater iron vessel. Throughout the Maw, she encounters Nomes: small, skittish creatures that either flee from her or passively observe her efforts. She has the option to hug the Nomes, should she get close to one. In the Prison, where captured children are held, Six evades the carnivorous Leeches that infest its depths and artificial eyes that will turn her to stone if she is caught in their lights. Six also regularly experiences debilitating bouts of hunger; whenever she eats, a shadowy, flickering version of herself appears. After eating some meat that was left over in a cage, Six is captured by the blind, long-armed Janitor who supervises the captured children. She escapes but makes no effort to help the other children. She falls into a room filled with piles of shoes and evades the unseen monster moving underneath. The Janitor eventually corners Six, but she severs his arms with a collapsing door.

Caught by another bout of hunger, Six is forced to eat a live rat. She travels to the Kitchen, where children wrapped up in butcher paper are being sent. Here, the grotesque Twin Chefs are preparing a feast and pursue Six whenever they spot her. She makes her way outside to the hull of the Maw, above the ocean waves. Scaling the hull, Six witnesses a procession of obese, suited Guests marching into the Maw from a separate vessel. They lumber into the Japanese-style Guest Area, where they gorge themselves on food. The feast is overseen by the mysterious Lady from Six's dream, the masked proprietress of the Maw. Several Guests pursue Six, but she outruns them. When she has another hunger attack, a Nome offers her a sausage. However, Six eats the Nome instead.

Six follows the Lady up into her Quarters, which are strewn with broken mirrors. Pursued by the Lady, Six finds an unbroken mirror, which she uses to repel her. The sight of her own reflection causes the Lady pain and subdues her. As the Lady lies defenseless, Six experiences a final hunger attack. She bites the Lady's neck, killing her and absorbing her magical powers. Six walks back through the Guest Area, surrounded by a dark aura. Some of the Guests try to eat her, but their lives are instantly drained by her new powers. She passes through a door and proceeds up a staircase and out into the sunlight, while all the Nomes she has hugged gather at the open doorway.

In a post-credits scene, Six waits by the entrance of the Maw while a foghorn is heard in the distance.

DLC plot edit

Secrets of the Maw edit

A trio of DLC levels that offer a "different perspective on Six's adventures" was planned. The first was released in July 2017,[4] the second in November 2017, and the third in February 2018.[5][6]

The Depths edit

A boy called the Runaway Kid wakes up from a nightmare involving him swimming in darkness before being dragged underwater. After leaving the Nursery, he follows a girl who is also fleeing, but later disappears. She leaves behind a flashlight, which the Runaway Kid takes.

The Runaway Kid falls into the Depths of the Maw, which are heavily flooded. He avoids Leeches and makes his way across by hopping on floating platforms. The Depths are home to the Granny, who swims underwater and attempts to grab the Runaway Kid either by bumping/destroying the floating platforms he stands on or by snatching him if he is in the water for too long. After pushing a plugged TV set into the water to electrocute and kill the Granny, the Runaway Kid leaves the Depths but is then captured by the Janitor. The final scene shows the Runaway Kid in a cage next to other trapped children, including Six. The Janitor pulls the Runaway Kid's cage away, paralleling Six's main-game story just before she wakes up in her cage.

The Hideaway edit

Wrapped in butcher paper and ascending on a hook towards the Kitchen, the Runaway Kid breaks free and falls into a new level of the Maw, finding an engine room where Nomes throw coal into a furnace. After evading the Janitor, the Kid uses the Nomes to power up the furnace. The bucket elevator in the engine room becomes fully functional and lifts the Runaway Kid up to a furnace room where more Nomes are gathered, their shadows cast by the furnace's light resembling children. After leaving, the Runaway Kid finds himself on top of a rising elevator occupied by the Lady.

The Residence edit

The Runaway Kid enters the Lady's Residence. After solving a series of puzzles to find three missing statues while fighting off the Shadow Children, he finds the Lady looking at herself in a mirror, her unmasked face in the reflection shown to be gruesome and deformed. The Lady is alerted to the Runaway Kid's presence and transforms him into a Nome. He then finds his way into the Guest Area and the room with the sausage in Six's story. The chapter ends with the Runaway Kid standing by the sausage, indicating that he is the Nome whom Six eats. When the credits for Secrets of the Maw roll, they are eventually shown to be on a television set, which shows a figure reminiscent of the Thin Man.

Development edit

With the game, the team wanted to explore the "wild extremes" of childhood. The game's setting, the Maw, was created as a piece of concept art "where all the worst things in the world could be left to rot".[7] In keeping with the theme of childhood, the team opted against creating a powerful protagonist. While the gameplay has been described as stealth-based, the team prefers to describe it as "hide and seek" feeling that even the term "stealth" gives the impression of an empowered character.[8]

The game was originally announced by Tarsier Studios in May 2014 under the title Hunger, with no known publisher for release on PlayStation 4. After a teaser trailer in February 2015, nothing was heard of the project until August 2016, when Bandai Namco Entertainment announced that they had entered into a worldwide publishing agreement with Tarsier for the project, which was now re-titled Little Nightmares.[9] The team opted to change the name to differentiate it from The Hunger Games series thus making it easier to search for.[8]

Reception edit

Little Nightmares received "generally positive" reviews, according to video game review aggregator Metacritic.[10][11][12][13]

Cory Arnold said on Destructoid "Little Nightmares hypnotized me with ever-present suspense," and awarded it a score of 8.5/10.[14]

Jonathan Leack from Game Revolution gave the game a score of 3 out of 5 stars saying that "Little Nightmares appears to have a double meaning. On one hand, the gameplay is a nightmare, regularly testing your patience and will to push forward. On the other, the atmosphere and audio design prove terrifying in a way that horror friends will admire. There's an equal amount of qualities to like and dislike, but when it comes down to it Little Nightmares succeeds at delivering on its promise of being an interesting horror game unlike anything else."[16]

Sam Prell of GamesRadar+ awarded it 4 out of 5 stars stating that "At times mechanically clumsy, but artistically sound, Little Nightmares might get on your nerves every once in a while, but its imagery will burrow into your brain and never leave."[18]

Joe Skrebels's score of 8.8/10 on IGN said that "gleefully strange, unceasingly grim, and quietly smart, Little Nightmares is a very welcome fresh take on horror."[19]

"An okay platformer but a deeply imaginative horror game, Little Nightmares is worth playing for its array of disturbing imagery," was Samuel's Roberts's conclusion on PC Gamer with a score of 78/100.[20]

Whitney Reynolds gave Little Nightmares an 8.5/10 score on Polygon with the consensus: "Little Nightmares worked its way into my dreams because it's just bright enough, just safe enough to make me let my guard down. The game isn’t always successful at balancing some game design fundamentals. But when the lights went out, it left me remembering that, really, I'm just a small thing in a dangerous world myself. Also, that monsters with big long grabby arms are really, really creepy."[21]

Alice Bell's 9/10 score on stated that "Little Nightmares is frightening, in a way that gets under your skin. A way that whispers in your ear that you won't sleep well tonight. Little Nightmares takes things you were afraid of when you were a kid, and reminds you you're still afraid now."[22]

Eurogamer ranked the game 28th on their list of the "Top 50 Games of 2017",[23] and GamesRadar+ ranked it 20th on their list of the 25 Best Games of 2017,[24] while Polygon ranked it 27th on their list of the 50 best games of 2017.[25] It was nominated for "Best Platformer" and "Best Art Direction" in IGN's Best of 2017 Awards.[26][27]

Sales edit

The game debuted at #4 on the UK all-format sales chart in its first week.[28] The Complete Edition sold 12,817 copies within its first week in Japan, placing it at #15 on the all-format sales chart.[29] As of August 2018, the game has sold over one million copies across all platforms.[30] In May 2020, Bandai Namco announced that more than 2 million units have been sold.[31]

Accolades edit

Year Award Category Result Ref
2016 Gamescom 2016 Indie Award Won [32]
2017 Develop Awards New Games IP Nominated [33]
Golden Joystick Awards Best Visual Design Nominated [34]
Best Audio Nominated
2018 21st Annual D.I.C.E. Awards Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction Nominated [35][36]
Emotional Games Awards 2018 Best Emotional Music Nominated [37]
National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Awards Animation, Artistic Nominated [38][39]
Art Direction, Contemporary Nominated
Game Design, New IP Nominated
Lighting/Texturing Nominated
Original Dramatic Score, New IP Nominated
Use of Sound, New IP Nominated

Legacy edit

Follow-ups edit

In regards to a prequel, Tarsier Studios stated that they had many ideas on things they still like to explore.[40] At Gamescom 2019, Little Nightmares II was announced for a 2020 release. It features a new player character known as Mono, with Six returning as a computer-controlled character, and its story precedes the events of Little Nightmares. The prequel was released on February 11, 2021.[41]

Even though Tarsier Studios has previously claimed that Little Nightmares II will be the last game in the series, Bandai Namco Entertainment have expressed interest in continuing the series in some form, as they consider Little Nightmares to be a "headline IP".[42] In August 2023, Little Nightmares III, now developed by Supermassive Games, was announced at Gamescom and is set for a 2024 release.[43] The first two episodes of a tie-in fictional podcast series, titled "The Sounds of Nightmares", was released on Bandai Namco Europe's YouTube channel.[44]

In September 2022, Bandai Namco partnered with Playdigious to ported the game to iOS and Android in winter. The versions were released on December 13, 2023.[45]

Phone application edit

A mobile app titled Very Little Nightmares was announced in April 2019 and was released in May 2019 on iOS by Alike Studio and Bandai Namco. The story acts as a prequel to Little Nightmares and Little Nightmares II.[46]

Television series edit

In 2017, Dmitri M. Johnson and Stephan Bugaj of DJ2 Entertainment announced that they will be producing a television adaptation of Little Nightmares. The series will also involve Anthony and Joe Russo and the pilot will be directed by Henry Selick.[47]

Comic books edit

Little Nightmares had a four issue tie-in comic,[48] written by John Shackleford and penciled by Aaron Alexovitch, and published by Titan Comics.[49] Two issues were released both in physical and digital copies, with the last two being cancelled. A hardcover graphic novel of the first two issues was released at the end of October 2017.[50][51]

Notes edit

  1. ^ Ported to Nintendo Switch by Engine Software
  2. ^ Ported to Android and iOS by Playdigious

References edit

  1. ^ Copeland, Wesley (18 January 2017). "Creepy Platformer Little Nightmares Gets a Release Date". IGN. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  2. ^ Aguilos, Pia (27 May 2020). "Little Nightmares is set to launch on Google Stadia this June".
  3. ^ Crecente, Brian (May 12, 2021). "How Little Nightmares II plumbs the depths of adolescent angst". Unreal Engine. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
  4. ^ Torfe, Pat (10 July 2017). "Return To 'Little Nightmares' In "The Depths" DLC!". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  5. ^ Donnelly, Joe (10 July 2017). "Little Nightmares The Hideaway DLC out now, next chapter out February". PC Gamer. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
  6. ^ @LittleNights (February 5, 2018). "The next chapter will be released on February 23. It's less than 20 days away, now..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  7. ^ Sinha, Ravi. "Little Nightmares Interview: Into The Maw". Gaming Bolt. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  8. ^ a b Gmyrek, Roland. "Interview: Little Nightmares devs Andreas Johnsson and Dave Mervik at Gamescom 2016". Gematsu. Archived from the original on 11 September 2021. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  9. ^ Matulef, Jeffrey (11 August 2016). "Bandai Namco picks up evocative horror game Hunger, rebrands it Little Nightmares". Eurogamer. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Little Nightmares for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Little Nightmares for PlayStation 4 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Little Nightmares for Xbox One Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  13. ^ a b "Little Nightmares: Complete Edition for Switch Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  14. ^ a b Arnold, Cory (21 April 2017). "Review: Little Nightmares". Destructoid. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
  15. ^ Cork, Jeff (25 April 2017). "A Grotesque Tale That Plays Off The Familiar - Little Nightmares - PC". Game Informer. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  16. ^ a b Leack, Jonathan (26 April 2017). "Little Nightmares Review". Game Revolution. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  17. ^ Espineli, Matt (28 April 2017). "Little Nightmares Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  18. ^ a b Prell, Sam (27 April 2017). "Little Nightmares review: 'Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away, if Spirited Away was grotesque and horrifying.'". GamesRadar+. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  19. ^ a b Skrebels, Joe (26 April 2017). "Little Nightmares Review". IGN. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  20. ^ a b Robert, Samuel (24 April 2017). "Little Nightmares review". PC Gamer. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
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  23. ^ Eurogamer staff (28 December 2017). "Eurogamer's Top 50 Games of 2017: 30-21". Eurogamer. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  24. ^ GamesRadar staff (22 December 2017). "The best games of 2017". GamesRadar+. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  25. ^ Polygon staff (18 December 2017). "The 50 best games of 2017". Polygon. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  26. ^ "Best of 2017 Awards: Best Platformer". IGN. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  27. ^ "Best of 2017 Awards: Best Art Direction". IGN. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  28. ^ Dring, Christopher (30 April 2017). "Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is Nintendo's first UK No.1 since 2011". Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  29. ^ Romano, Sal (13 June 2018). "Media Create Sales: 6/4/18 – 6/10/18". Gematsu. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  30. ^ Arif, Shabana (16 August 2018). "Little Nightmares Sells 1 Million Copies". IGN. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  31. ^ "Little Nightmares surpasses 2m units sold". 27 May 2020. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  32. ^ "Best of Gamescom 2016 Winners Selected by Gamescom Committee". The Video Game Librarian. 19 August 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  33. ^ Cleaver, Sean (12 May 2017). "Develop Awards 2017: The Finalists". MCV. Retrieved 4 September 2018.[permanent dead link]
  34. ^ Gaito, Eri (13 November 2017). "Golden Joystick Awards 2017 Nominees". Best in Slot. Archived from the original on 10 January 2018. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  35. ^ Makuch, Eddie (14 January 2018). "Game Of The Year Nominees Announced for DICE Awards". GameSpot. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  36. ^ Makuch, Eddie (22 February 2018). "Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Wins Game Of The Year At DICE Awards". GameSpot. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  37. ^ "Emotional Games Awards 2018". Emotional Games Awards. 12 March 2018. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  38. ^ "Nominee List for 2017". National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers. 9 February 2018. Archived from the original on 15 February 2018. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  39. ^ "Horizon wins 7; Mario GOTY". National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers. 13 March 2018. Archived from the original on 14 March 2018. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  40. ^ THR staff (30 May 2017). "'Little Nightmares' Lead Designers on Studio Ghibli Influence and a Possible Sequel". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  41. ^ Goslin, Austen (19 August 2019). "Little Nightmares 2 announced at Gamescom 2019". Polygon. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  42. ^ Behan, Daire (2021-11-11). "Bandai Namco Still Considers Little Nightmares a 'Headline IP' Despite Uncertainty Surrounding the Series' Future". Game Rant. Retrieved 2021-11-11.
  43. ^ Romano, Sal (2023-08-22). "Little Nightmares III announced for PS5, Xbox Series, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC". Gematsu. Retrieved 2023-08-22. Due out in 2024.
  44. ^ Joshua, Orpheus (2023-08-23). "Little Nightmares Official Audio Fiction Podcast Series Announced, "The Sounds of Nightmares," First 2 Episodes Available". Noisy Pixel. Retrieved 2023-08-23.
  45. ^ Brassell, Jack (2023-12-12). "Whimsical horror adventure game Little Nightmares debuts on mobile". Retrieved 2023-12-17.
  46. ^ Wales, Matt (2019-04-10). "Darkly adorable horror platformer Little Nightmares is getting a prequel on iOS". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2019-05-15.
  47. ^ Kit, Borys (12 June 2017). "The Russo Brothers Adapting Video Game 'Little Nightmares' for TV (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  48. ^ Bell, Alice (15 February 2017). "Little Nightmares is getting a comic mini-series". Video Gamer. Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  49. ^ Mueller, Matthew (11 April 2017). "EXCLUSIVE: Little Nightmares #1 Reveals First Interior Art". Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  50. ^ "Little Nightmares Vol.1". 31 October 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  51. ^ Shackleford, John (31 October 2017). Little Nightmares Hardcover. Titan Books (US, CA). ISBN 978-1785862854.

External links edit