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Little Nightmares Complete Edition contains the main game which follows a girl named Six as she escapes from The Maw, as well as the Secrets of the Maw DLC featuring The Kid on his parallel escape attempt. Both children wake up alone in separate locations and must find a way back out. As each game progresses, we learn more and more about where the children are being held, and it is not pleasant. Six’s story has the most detail and should be played first as it’s the original game. Through her we’re taken on a tour of the Maw and can easily decipher its grim purpose. The Kid’s journey takes us to different places and exposes several more secrets of this hidden world.
The art style and character design can make or break a game for me. Little Nightmares‘ dark aesthetic and Tim Burton-esuqe characters are what initially drew me to it. This is a horror game, so the visuals do lean toward the macabre and disturbing. There are depictions of blood, death, and what appears to be a suicide by hanging. So keep that in mind if these images are triggering to you.
I found the sets and atmosphere to be really beautiful in their darkness. I believed that Six and the Kid were in this dark, desolate, hopeless place with seemingly no way out. While a lot of the rooms look similar, there’s a lot of variety in the details. There’s always something to look at, and definitely plenty you’ll miss on the first play through as you’re simply trying to stay alive.
There is a mostly fixed camera facing parallel to the rooms. You can move the camera slightly to the left/right or up/down to see more of the space, but it immediately snaps back into place. The focus is very much on the current room, and it keeps what’s coming next a surprise. The characters do have some depth range of motion as they can move toward and away from the camera as far as the physics of the room allows, but the camera will stay static.
The characters are where the visuals really shine though. Six is the main protagonist, yet we never see her face as it’s hidden by the hood of her yellow raincoat. She is the only bright spot in this world. That’s not to say that she’s totally innocent, because she’s not. But she stands out. The Kid’s design is similar in shape to Six, but his hair flops over into his face, never allowing us a good look at him either.
The monsters are varied and range in their creepiness factor. Roger the creepy janitor is by far the scariest of the bunch. It’s not necessarily his appearance, which is disturbing, but combined with the eerie way he moves. Every time he gave chase or simply entered a room made me uneasy. The Twin Chefs and the Guests reminded me a lot of the fat mother and son from The Nightmare Before Christmas, which kept them from creeping me out too much, but really sold the Burton-esque aesthetic for me.
The Lady isn’t scary looking at all. In fact, she’s quite regal and beautiful. At least with her mask on as in Six’s story. Her appearance is completely different in The Kid’s chapter, since we get to see her without the mask.
Sound Effects + Music
Little Nightmares has no music other than the main menu, which sounds like a music box. Unless you count one super creepy TV jingle at one point in the game and that intense outro. We also hear The Lady’s music box in the DLC. The relative silence really helps put you on edge, since you have nothing to distract you from what’s on the screen. It keeps you guessing. Is someone waiting for you up ahead? Or is the room clear?
The sound effects are also minimal, keeping with this lonely adventure vibe. You’ll hear doors creak, boxes scraping across the floor, footsteps, Six’s hunger pangs… Each monster also has their own sounds for when they spot Six/Kid and give chase and an even creepier one for when then do catch them.
I do wish there had been a little bit more background noise to fully put you in the room with Six and the Kid. More pipes creaking, water dripping, rats scurrying. Something to break up the nearly complete silence. However, we do get something unique in place of ambient noise. Heartbeats. During tense moments you can hear Six’s (or the Kid’s) heart beating which is mimicked by the rumble in the controllers. It’s a fantastic touch which got my own heart racing in tandem.
Gameplay + Controls
Little Nightmares is a puzzle platformer and it does both really well. Controls are quite limited as the characters can simply walk, run, crawl, climb, and jump. At times you’ll have to quickly switch between them to outrun a monster and slide under a door, or run across a narrow plank and grab onto a small ledge. I am not a great platformer, but I got a hang of the controls quickly.
Six and the Kid can also pick up small items and throw them, which is required for some rooms where the object is either needed to open something, or is used as a distraction. They can similarly push/pull items across surfaces in order to get them out of the way or to get them into position for another action.
In the final chapter of the DLC, you’ll have to master the art of double joysticks, if you haven’t already. The Kid has to move around while aiming his flashlight to keep the shadow children away from him. It was awkward for me at first, so I died. A lot. But once I got use to controlling both sticks, often in opposing directions, it wasn’t too bad.
The only control that seemed finicky to me was getting the Kid to climb out of the water. Sometimes he’d do it immediately, other times he’d get bumped away, which is all it takes to get pulled under. Getting him to grab a ledge while swimming was inconsistent in an other wise smooth game.
Some of the puzzles are real stumpers. You need to explore the room and figure out a way into the next room. Sometimes it’s as straight forward as moving a chair toward the door to be able to reach the handle. Other times, you’ll have to find a key, but once you’ve found it, how the heck do you get it, and once you get it, how the heck do you get back to the door without getting caught!? There were times I had to pause and consult a walkthrough because I just could not figure out what to do. Or I was doing it but in the wrong way.
I do feel like the game got easier as it went on. Of course, as with any new game, there’s a bit of a learning curve in the beginning areas. You have to get use to the controls and how the characters can and cannot move. Plus you have to learn how the monsters behave to properly evade them.
Roger the creepy janitor is the first monster Six comes into contact with and he was by far the most difficult to keep away from and eventually defeat. The Twin Chefs and the Guests are much faster in their pursuit of Six, but I only got caught by them when I missed a crucial movement (the chases are tight!). The final boss, The Lady, felt too easy. Her battle is very straight forward and there doesn’t seem to be any way to mess it up, unless you just miss a button press.
The Kid faces three monsters starting with The Granny. This mainly takes place in the water, where I died a lot. It’s not that she’s any harder to get away from, but it’s getting out of the water smoothly enough to keep her from grabbing you that’s tricky. The second chapter features the return of Roger the creepy janitor and I can’t say that I was pleased to see him still alive and kicking (the two storylines are happening parallel, so it makes perfect sense that he’s still around looking for wayward children). Finally, he’ll come face to face with The Lady, but it’s very different than Six’s battle with her, being mainly focused on the puzzle aspect of the game rather than defeating her directly.
Overall, I do feel like the DLC was more difficult than the main game. It may only have three chapters compared to five, but they only took me a little less time to complete. The puzzles were a lot more challenging, and I had to rely on walkthroughs much more often. There were a lot of moments where I never would have figured it out on my own without spending all day in one room. It also requires more precise platforming as the Kid has to run, jump, swing, and climb across many obstacles, with plenty of backtracking. I’m not complaining about the ramped up difficulty; it’s to be expected. The game was just more clever than me.
My only major complaint when it comes to Little Nightmares is the load times and checkpoints system. The game takes a fair bit to load, including each time you die. It’s not completely terrible as it gives you time to collect yourself and get your heart rate a bit more under control, but it does add up if you die a lot like I did. The real frustration comes in when you restart the game after closing it. You don’t always load where you left off, or where the last death reload checkpoint was.
I’m not entirely sure how the game chooses to spawn your character on reload, but it’s not always in the optimal position. You may have to replay an entire room to get back to where you left off, despite reloading into the same room when you die. Other times you start in a place where you’ll immediately be killed if you’re not ready to start playing as soon as it loads. The most notable example of this is in the DLC where you spawn on a floating door, and if you stay still too long, The Granny will knock you off and drown you.
I noticed minimal glitches during my playthrough, with only two that affected my game play. One that is simply cosmetic happens in the DLC when The Kid gets “slammed” into a cabinet by a Nome. Essentially, the Nome bumps the drawer closed while The Kid is climbing on it, so he looks like he’s being impaled by the drawer. The physics of the game is great otherwise.
This glitch, I actually encountered twice. Once in Six’s story and once in the DLC. When Roger the janitor senses you, he’ll come after you and try to grab you. If you get somewhere he can’t reach, he’ll eventually give up and go back into his programmed animations. However, there were two times when I ran from him, got somewhere inaccessible to his gangly arms, but instead of giving up and going away, he got stuck in a loop of the same grabbing animation over and over with no end in sight. The only solution was to move out of hiding so he could actually grab Six/Kid, or restart from the checkpoint. I don’t know if this happens anywhere else.
There was one more incident that forced me to restart from the checkpoint, but I’m unsure if it was a glitch or a feature. I did see that a few others also had this problem though. In the second chapter of the DLC, The Kid must swing on a pulley to the platform on the other side. He needs momentum to make it glide over a bump in the tracking, which is a challenge. However, if you don’t make it across the bump, the pulley doesn’t roll back to the starting point, making it impossible to try again. This may be intentional to increase the difficulty, but there’s no other way to get the pulley back aside from restarting, which doesn’t seem like a good design choice.
Even though puzzle platformers are my favorite type of game, the puzzle aspect does reduce the replayability a bit. Once you know the solution to the puzzle, that’s it. It doesn’t change. You can play again knowing exactly how to make it through without getting stuck. However, tightening those platforming sections can be good motivation to play through again. Had trouble jumping across a vast space? Couldn’t evade Roger the creepy janitor on the first attempt? Try again!
There’s also the matter of collectibles which I missed the first time around. I did light many of the lanterns, as I feel like those were placed pretty out in the open. It also seems like a good idea to give Six some light to see by other than her tiny lighter. As for the statues and the Nomes, I missed nearly all of them, but I also wasn’t looking. I was focused on getting Six out of this hell hole! The Kid’s story only contains bottles that you have to pop the corks on, and I managed to stumble upon one during my daring escape.
I don’t mind knowing the correct answers going into a replay, because I know I have a lot of room for improvement on the platforming side. And I’m a completionist at heart, so the collectibles give me something new to focus on. Am I looking forward to facing Roger the creepy janitor again? Absolutely not! But I am happy to defeat him again!
Little Nightmares is a short game. Six’s story took me about 4 hours, but that was with lots of flailing around and many, many, many deaths. The load times are also unusually long, which was frustrating given the amount of times I died and had to wait for the checkpoint to reload. However, with smoother gameplay, it can be finished in under 2 hours. Adding on the DLC doubles the play time. This makes it a relatively quick game to play again and again. In the mood for something creepy? No problem, Little Nightmares will entertain you just as much as watching a movie in the same time!
Little Nightmares is an absolute must buy for fans (or newbies) of this genre! I hate horror movies, but I was easily hooked into this game and didn’t want to put it down. Yes, it literally gave me nightmares if I played too close to bedtime, but that didn’t stop me from playing.