(Originally published to Dreambubble on May 6, 2017)
A lot of LBP folk on this site probably recognize Tarsier Studios for developing LBPvita, Tearaway Unfolded, and the newer Rag Doll Kung Fu. While they’ve been known to help out Media Molecule for a long while, they’ve finally released two games of their own: Statik and Little Nightmares. Since I have yet to own a VR headset I immediately picked up a copy of LN for PC. Long story short, this game brings stomach-clenching spooks and goes darker than expected.
Little Nightmares is a puzzle platformer set in this horrific world of huge monsters and rotting meat. You play as Six, a tiny girl who must sneak through this dangerous place and reveal the secrets of The Maw. The ultimate goal of this game is to reenact childhood fears and give you… well… little nightmares. Tarsier did this perfectly with the grotesque monsters and the small size of the protagonist. A lot of modern horror games focus too much on gore or jumpscares and forgot how to make something truly sinister and suspenseful. I’m so happy to see this game presenting a more traditional approach to horror. It’s basically a Goosebumps Novel videogame, and it’s awesome! I could say a lot more about the story but it’s better to go in completely blind since a lot of it is conveyed through gameplay and atmosphere.
I see this game as a combination of Inside and Outlast when it comes to gameplay. There’s a lot of sneaking and hiding, as expected from the horror genre, but there are also big atmospheric scenes that build the world and reveal hints towards the story. The game is split up into chapters with each chapter having a specific theme or monster/monsters to get past. You’ll be solving puzzles and reading monster behaviors to survive and progress. The puzzles feel similar, again, to Inside, but doing these puzzles whist being chased by horrific giants keeps things fresh and lively! The only complaint I’ve heard from other players is depth perception when platforming. You’ll often miss a jump or slide off a bridge because of the wide camera view. I personally didn’t have a problem with this but I’m also very familiar with floaty controls in platformers. Platforming never gets too complex and checkpoints are frequent so a mistake will only send you back one or two minutes.
The visuals, oh god the visuals, they’re absolutely stunning! Tarsier used every bit of the Unreal 4 lighting engine to enhance the dark and morbid visuals. From the ominous silhouettes of monsters to the sparkling textures of meat and tar, this game glued my jaw to the floor and even had me sick to my stomach at some parts (in a good way). The photo-realistic scenes really help scare the crap out of you since they actually look real. Combine this with partial-physics animations and you have yourself one of the best looking horror games! If your PC can handle it, this game is fully optimized for 4K… if you dare!
Now for the sound design and music. The soundtrack is full of stingers and creepy children vocals. Sound design is used a little in gameplay but it really shines when you hear the monsters make disgusting sounds and grind their teeth. The sound effects match the visuals perfectly, making a truly horrific experience. I really cannot stress enough how gross this game makes you feel!
I really don’t have any major complaints about this game. I absolutely loved it! I just wish it was longer. I completed the game in 3-4 hours but enjoyed every second, especially in the final chapters. Thankfully there are a couple different collectibles to find and it seems very likely for DLC chapters to be added. If you like horror games or games like Inside, this is a must-play in my book!
Click HERE for the Little Nightmares Steam page.
What do you guys think of Tarsiers new games? Feel free to post below!