Little Nightmares: Complete Edition brings 2017’s horror platformer to the Nintendo Switch. Retaining the game’s original brand of terror, it also brings with it a number of control and technical issues that hold it back from reaching its true potential.
At first glance, Little Nightmares is a horror game that is decidedly my kind of terrifying. Less reliant on jump scares and more on disturbing and horrific imagery, you play as Six, a young, Borrower-sized girl that is trying to escape a horrific ship called The Maw. While there is no narration or dialogue per se, the atmosphere and locations themselves do a great job in spinning a tale that turned me into a bundle of nerves every time I played it.
The game is well-paced, offering up plenty of memorable scenes that kept me wanting to see what would come next. Creatures are off-putting and frightening without relying on blood and gore, and the boat itself is used to great effect to underscore your isolation and circumstances. A sequence involving a meat grinder is genuinely one of the most disturbing scenes I’ve played through in years, and it and other scenes like it made me see through this journey to the end.
For as many times as Little Nightmares is genuinely disturbing in its imagery, it is just as frustrating in its gameplay. While movement and platforming is fine in most cases, things begin to fall apart during the more intensive or time sensitive sections. The controls don’t feel tight, particularly when you have to nimbly walk across a small obstacle or dodge a trap, where small motions can result in you plummeting to your death.
I wouldn’t mind this as much as I do were it not for the resulting load times. I often find that the best platformers allow you to quickly jump back in if you make a mistake, nullifying the frustration you feel when you fail an obstacle. That’s not the case with Little Nightmares, which features very long load times that compound the previous issues I mentioned.
It is also best played in docked mode. While the colours and lighting are amazing when played on a TV, it is very dimly lit in handheld mode. So much so that I had to increase the brightness to the highest available setting, which was barely enough to get the game functional on the go.
Little Nightmares on the Switch comes packed with the previously released DLC on other consoles, which focus on a separate child as he navigates The Maw. It’s well-crafted, and serves to pad out a game that would feel noticeably short otherwise. But even with the extra content, I have no desire to return to it. Not because of my issues with the game, but because the world you explore is perfect for a one-and-done playthrough.
Little Nightmares: Complete Edition is a game that starts off strong and slowly gets weaker the more you play it. A strong atmosphere and tense platforming sequences are stubbornly undermined by poor controls and a bad checkpoint system that punishes far more often than it ever rewards. But despite this, there is a good horror game that lies in wait for those looking for an experience that is far different from the norm.