By Danyel Poindexter, Staff Writer
As a child, imagination was our biggest enemy in terms of fear—a creaking sound in the night, the echo of footsteps, monsters under our bed, or even something lurking in the shadows. We envisioned them all. If you are really ready to engross yourself into the October madness, think about those childhood terrors, then introduce yourself to the new indie horror game “Little Nightmares.” Though the initial set release date for this game is in the spring of 2017, the demo is available.
“Little Nightmares” has officially been in the works for more than two years, gorgeously crafted by Tarsier Studios and recently picked up by the publisher Bandai Namco. The surreal horror adaptation made its first appearance at the 2016 Gamescon with a two minute trailer. You play as a tiny child wearing a yellow raincoat who finds yourself trapped in everything conceived out of a nightmare. You must sneak throughout the area to find a way to escape. I found the most trivial matter to be sneaking past the somewhat hungry-looking demonic chef who slaves away in the kitchen chopping up meat. Though his movements may seem slow, when he spots you they are anything but.
There are benefits to being small in this game: you can get away faster—depending on your distance from the enemy—and you can hide under the large objects around you that either give you height or immerse yourself in the shadows. Unfortunately, if the cook does spot you, he will chase you until he finds you—that includes going into the locked room next to him. I found that you are only truly safe once you have reached the vents. The player receives a match and some increments of light throughout the demo for assistance, but other than that, the game is based on pure brainpower and stealth.
The setting of “Little Nightmares”—ominously named The Maw—is peculiar yet alluring with its high contrasted colors blended in with a dark atmosphere. It stays true to its elusive theme by inviting the player to a very outlandish and eccentric environment. The game features an underwater construct, but other than that, the true nature of The Maw is being kept in secret until further release of the actual game. It does, however, harbor the echo of small sounds including taps, steps, and water drops to bring out a very eerie aura while playing with that realistic concept that is trending around the gaming community. The lighting of the game is extremely clear with high defined 3-D graphics and realistic blur in faraway backgrounds. The child, of course, stands out with her vibrant yellow coat against the unsaturated areas of the game and because of that players will receive a lonely, yet unique experience.
“Little Nightmares” does feature various puzzles, simple but contemplative. Thinking like a scared little kid trapped in your own nightmare might just joggle the trick to figuring them out.
When playing this demo, I couldn’t help but be reminded of an atmosphere like the film “Coraline,” just less colorful, blended with that Tim Burton-esque feeling. The art and structure of this game are well thought out and organized, and because of this perception, gamers should not approach “Little Nightmares” with hopes of sudden bloody jump scares as in many recent horror games. This game travels along the lines of subtle horror that is more self-scare than a jump scare. The sway of the game on your screen added with the sweet children’s music and rustling sounds as you move about really introduces that obsessed play you will get once you start the demo. I commend this game in its hauntingly beautiful setup and its childhood nightmare abstraction it has uniquely created.
“Little Nightmares” is a single-player video game that will release on the following platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows.