Tarsier Studios’ deliciously dark puzzle-platformer Little Nightmares will finally be available for the public at the end of April this year. Having been named “Best Indie” at last year’s Gamescon, the title from the same team who co-developed Tearaway Unfolded with Media Molecule looks to riff further into the adorable world of inventive art focused platformers like LittleBigPlanet (a series they were also involved in). Although this one has a much darker, sinister atmosphere that should slot in perfectly into a world dominated by the survival-horror genre.
I recently went hands-on with a limited new build of the game, playing through a brief area involving suitcases, monstrous chefs and swinging sausage ropes. My interest in the game was only lukewarm prior to this session, but an enjoyable run through these clever, charming puzzles has most definitely changed that; I now find myself throwing this into my ‘most anticipated games of 2017’ list.
The main character is a tiny little girl in an oversized yellow raincoat – her name being Six – who finds herself enmeshed in a depressingly damp, underwater resort that is host to a whole bunch of interesting characters. This includes a hulking claymation-like chef branding a large butchers knife, who you know to avoid because of his unfriendly and sadistic appearance.
The demo I played started me off in a seemingly inescapable and incredibly messy bedroom, full of 3D objects like suitcases and baseballs which could be dragged around by holding R2 (on PS4). Six’s moves are fluid and poignant, the navigation syncing up with the highly detailed moody atmosphere strung throughout what seems like the bowels of this resort. After jumping on this and that I eventually crawled through to the chef’s kitchen, avoiding the terrifying cook at all costs while he darted back and forth around the cluttered kitchen.
Next up was a room with a giant meat grinder and elsewhere the ingredients to make a well-known meat dish. It would be rude to give away too much detail on how this puzzle rolls outs, but let’s just say the squishy implications again speak to how twisted and Tim Burton-like the tone of Little Nightmares is, a hard-right from the aforementioned, brighter titles and in-line with stunners like Limbo and Inside.
These indie platformers – the “Oscar Bait” of video games – which tread the line between 2D and 3D so beautifully are becoming more commonplace, and if previous titles are any indication to how subversive, thoughtful and theatrical Little Nightmares will be then consider this a title you’re going to want to snap up when it’s released later this year.
Little Nightmares is released on 28th April 2017 for PS4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows.