For those with a love for the creepy and unnatural not unlike myself, there’s a good chance you’ll find the upcoming horror-themed puzzle game Little Nightmares of great interest.
Developed by the Swedish gaming studio Tarsier Studios, who have helped with the Little Big Planet series DLC development as well as the Playstation Vita adaptation. Little Nightmares follows a young girl named Six’s quest through a dark and ominous world within a mysterious ship called The Maw. Armed with a mere candle and her own courage, Six struggles to avoid capture by the hungry, sinister creatures described as “corrupted spirits” that inhabit The Maw.
“The way we like to describe it is the place where childhood fears come to life.” — Tarsier Studios
For a bit of history, Little Nightmares was initially introduced with the name Hunger by Tarsier in May 2014. Bandai Namco took on the publishing role two years later and the name was changed. The idea for the title came about in 2012 from a tech demo with a ‘dollhouse’ as it’s base. Players could tilt, zoom in and out, and pan with the dollhouse camera through a number of interconnected rooms that made up the game. It was a simple idea but it conveyed an interestingly uneasy and whimsical feeling nonetheless. From there the development team began to explore different concept sketches of the characters and settings that ultimately led to Little Nightmares becoming a reality. Developing a prototype and trailer was possible with help from sponsors Nordic Game and Creative Europe. Nordic Game is a video game conference held in Sweden, while Creative Europe is an EU program with an aim of, “strengthening the competitiveness of the European cultural and creative sectors.” This allowed Tarsier the tools needed to provide solid representation to Bandai Namco and get the ball rolling even more on the project.
From the gameplay featured in trailers and released screenshots, the game seems to live up to its eerie reputation of touching on the things that scared us most when we were children. The dim atmosphere through and through resembles a dark room that harbors scary shadows and threats under the bed. Everything seems big and frightening. From a china doll’s glassy gaze resting on a dresser to the ever present creaks and groans of the house. This game will take you to a place where every sound and movement can set you on the edge. For the most part, you’re sneaking and you won’t (purposefully) have a clear view of creatures since they move around. Fumbling around and causing noise will attract unwanted attention and the sound of shuffling feet and grabby fingers will soon follow. Just like a child about to be gobbled up by the bogeyman, once detected, there’s only so far you can run with such small feet.
Six is minuscule compared to her surroundings, giving the impression of an Alice lost in a kind of gothic, disturbing wonderland. The difficulty in navigating The Maw is in large part because of Six’s size. She will climb chairs, shelving, among other objects that appear built for a larger being. Not unlike a mouse, she can often be used to hide in nooks and crannies, and even manages to fit in tight spaces in order to avoid captors while solving puzzles in each area. Though Six is the main character and hero of this game, it’s easy to forget that she’s also a child that has playful inhibitions that can lead to her death or capture. She’ll jump from high places or make noise tossing around a ball or playing on a squeaky bed. Being aware of your surroundings and treading carefully is important in smoothly progressing and ultimately completing Little Nightmares.
The game will be releasing tomorrow, April 28th. It’s single player and has around 13 achievements/trophies to earn. The storyline encourages open exploration, but with a straight playthrough expect to spend 5 hours on it. There’s still time to pre-order and receive in-game bonuses such as the scarecrow sack and the upside teapot masks to help Six blend in with The Maw inhabitants. For PC there’s the additional perk of a digital copy of the game’s original soundtrack as well as the choice between an exclusive PS4 or PC wallpaper.
It would also be a good idea to try out the browser-based interactive video demo here that Tarsier released late last year. It will give you a feel for the game beyond looking at pretty (creepy) screenshots and replaying and pausing trailers endlessly. You’ll also receive a DLC tengu mask in your game if you register below the video.
Comment below on what you think of Little Nightmares and whether you’ll be trying out the demo or straight shot purchasing the game (like me!). If you want to follow updates a good place would be the game’s twitter @LittleNights and Facebook page as well as right here on Techno Gurl Magazine of course. 😉