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Little Nightmares review – “The perfect candidate for a mobile port”

Back in 2017, Bandai Namco and Tarsier Studios released their puzzle-platforming horror smash hit Little Nightmares. The rave reviews immediately followed, but I had never touched it. That is until Playdigious released it onto mobile. So, with this blank slate of a brain, I have set off into the Maw to answer that question; can this port repeat the success?

The perfect candidate for a mobile port

The first thing you notice when playing Little Nightmares is just how tiny the protagonist is. Waking up in a suitcase that she can’t even be a quarter the size of and coming up against doors whose handles she has no hope of reaching unassisted. It’s clear from the start that navigating this vast monolithic structure will be a challenge. On a console or PC, I am sure this would have been apparent on its own, but seeing Six, the protagonist, struggling in the palm of your hand makes her appear just all the more vulnerable.

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It also helps add to the atmosphere that you are that much closer to the action. If you play it in the dark as the game suggests, it is a very engrossing experience, but if the horror genre isn’t for you, don’t fret. It is much more of a subtle, suspenseful, haunting type of feel, and even when things jump out it isn’t startling, just interesting. A perfect way to enter the scary side of video games.

Enough control for the tricky tasks

In terms of gameplay, Little Nightmares has two control schemes for players to choose from; an onscreen keypad with permanent buttons imposed on the screen for your classic joypad gameplay, or an immersive system where swiping decides your movement, jumps, and crouches. Of course, for an atmospheric game like this, you go immersive so you have a cleaner screen.

If you have ever played this game, you know that a lot of segments require some swift movements to get through closing doors, or very precise jumps to avoid plummeting into the abyss. I was expecting a swipe method of movement to perform poorly in these circumstances, but I ended up being incredibly surprised by how easy it ended up being. Yes, poor Six ate the ground or ended up diving into nothingness more times than I would care to admit, but overall it performed very well.

A slow burn before some puzzling perfection

There will be no combat for the vast majority of your time in this malevolent Maw. When you see the size of the enemies stalking you, with their arms sometimes reaching three times Six’s size, it’s obvious she wouldn’t have a chance mano-a-mano. Instead, you will have to sneak around the world’s creepy and offputting denizens who seem intent on carrying her off for some nefarious purpose. Little Nightmares is at its best when you’re trying to solve a puzzle with one of these monsters patrolling, really dialling up the suspense and requiring perfect timing.

The puzzles themselves are pretty interesting, but it doesn’t start this way. At the beginning, you will simply be pulling and pushing a lot of cases around to clamber on top of, and to be honest these basic puzzles do repeat too much when compared to the runtime of the story. When you get to the more fun ones though, it makes up for it. The first time you start climbing up that box you thought was just background, or find a solution so brilliantly simple after trying to beat that light across the walkway about ten times before realising: ‘Oh, I can jump across there’, you feel like you might just get Six out of here after all.

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