Little Nightmares – Big Monsters

REVIEW – Tarsier Studio’s first original IP is finally here, and ready to takes us to a grotesque land of flesh eaters. While Tarsier has worked on Little Big Planet DLCs and assisted Media Molecule in Tearaway Unfolded, they were never let loose on their own project. Little Nightmares, previously titled Hunger, was revealed in 2014, but not much has been heard of the project up until Bandai Namco decided to pick up the game in 2016 August as publisher.


Now after nearly three years of waiting for Little Nightmares is here to scare the players, wreck havoc in their dreams, and to be devoured in madness. The world of Maw welcomes everyone, but nobody can leave. Maybe you and Six will, but who knows at what cost.

Lecter would be proud

The story of Maw is not too complicated, but it does hold some mysteries. You play as Six, a nine-year-old who wakes up in the depths of The Maw within the Prison section. Six must evade capture, and avoid all contact with the denizens of the ship, who are hungry for her flesh. The ship is a weird resort in which the passengers get to enjoy those delights which are pretty much illegal in our world. It is one big meat factory, and you plus other children are the main courses for these savages. There is not much to talk about other than while it bears some similarities to Inside in certain themes, this game can convey them much better, and even more disturbingly.

There’s a sense of dread when playing this game, and experiencing this story, especially when combined with the music and graphic style of the product. While recently I played Outlast 2 where it was chock full of gore and body parts, I never felt disturbed by them, or disgusted. Sure body parts were flying around but nothing that has not been done by other gazillion games/movies already. Here though there is something special in both the story and the way the antagonists are presented to the player. All of the “bosses” in the story are bloodthirsty, and Six has to avoid them in different ways.

Six’s story is a fun and epic journey, but it’s not so thematically deep as Inside. It tries to be something more than it sets out to do with its hidden meanings, and in a way, it can provide the player with an interesting story. However, due to its length, it does not feel fully fleshed out, and sometimes those deep themes can end up being pretentious to some people.

In the shadows

When handling the evil in The Maw, Six has limited options, and she needs to hide throughout most of the game, to outsmart the enemy. The player needs to hide within the shadows, or throw objects to distract enemies. Due to our small size, we cannot attack, or damage the enemy in any way or form. If the enemy does notice us and catches Six, it is game over, and she ends up in a pot or an oven. The game also has platforming elements, and puzzle sections (although these are not too difficult), but all of these elements are presented in a gruesome form. For instance, in one section we have to reach an exit on the wall. In order to do so, we need to find meat, put it on a trap door, and then have it fall into a meat grinder so that we can make sausage that will be our rope to the other side where we can reach the exit.

All of these puzzles are not your typical Broken Age or Telltale games. They require not just the brains, but the skills specials to resolve them. There can be parts where the monsters will give chase, and quick reflexes and fast thinking are required to survive another day in the world of The Maw. It feels like a throwback to the early 90s adventure games, but the difficulty is tuned a bit lower than that era. Still, it is able to provide a few good puzzles, even if they will not make the player think for days for the solution.

Beautiful monsters

Little Nightmares is a wonderfully looking video game that can both amaze, and scare the living shit out of the player. The “Humans” of this title look horrifying, and straight out of a horror freakshow, and at the same time, the environments are polished to an excellent degree. Everything is dirty, rundown, or covered in blood in the lower sections of the ship, and the upper section holds the decadence, and the guests, but it is entirely different. A much cleaner and distinctive style are presented to the player, although it is none the less violent, and dreadful. The animation of Six and every other character within the game is superb, and there is nothing to complain about in this department. The graphics presented to us, even if it is an Indie game feels the Triple-A quality when looking at the other offerings of this genre. While Inside looked good, the environments were not as detailed as in Little Nightmares. The music of Tobias Lilja here is phenomenal, and the soundtrack he composed for the game is haunting, and the chase scenes also have a unique soundtrack that will make any player’s heart race.

Little problems

There are just two tiny problems with Little Nightmares. One is that sadly it ends too soon, by the time we get the hang of it. Also, the controls are unfortunately not the best and can be frustrating in certain situations when in chase scenes, or precisions are required.

Still, even with the short running time and minor control issues, Little Nightmares is a fun experience, and I can recommend it to anyone who loves the macabre, and the weird. Tarsier Studios have created something special, and hopefully, their next game is also such success in providing a unique experience.



+ Spectacular graphics, music, and animation
+ Disturbing enemies
+ Interesting world design


– Story is rather short
– Control issues
– Not too difficult

Publisher: Bandai Namco Games, Namco Bandai Games

Developer: Tarsier Studios

Genre: Puzzle-platformer

Release date: April 27, 2017

Little Nightmares

Gameplay - 7.6
Graphics - 9.2
Story - 7.3
Music/Audio - 9.6
Ambiance - 9.3



The first new IP from Tarsier Studios ends up being a lovely mix of horror and dread. Do not play this game with a full stomach.

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Bence is a Senior Staff Writer for our site. He is an avid gamer, that enjoys all genres, from Indie to AAA games. He mostly plays on the PS4 or on the laptop (since some indies get a preview build there faster). Loves obscure Japanese games that no one else dares to review on this site.

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