With Little Nightmares releasing next month, Siliconera tried out a demo for the game at PAX East, learning what it was like to be a frightened child running from some of the bizarre monstrosities and hostile cooking staff that would haunt the game’s eerie world.
Set in the viewpoint of a scared kid, Little Nightmares immediately takes the player to a world that is uncomfortable and distorted. Objects tower above the young character, and all seem twisted and dark in some way. The player will need to get over any anxiety this surreal place creates quickly, though, as they’ll need to manipulate objects in the environment to solve puzzles. A giant-sized suitcase may be just what the player needs to progress.
It wasn’t long before the player would come across a dough-faced chef in a large kitchen. This creature was strange to look at, having misshapen features that would put the player on edge. Rightfully, as once this creature notices the player’s tiny, yellow coat wearing character, it will take off after them. While the developers are hesitant to call this a horror game, the moment that creature turns on the player is a frightening one.
Players are able to crouch under objects to hide, and if they come at those objects while running, they will slide underneath them. Hiding in Little Nightmares doesn’t give you a permanent safe spot like many horror games, though, as the creatures are persistent. It will look under tables or scan objects carefully, quickly honing in on the player who stands still. To survive, players will need to be on the move, never relying on any one spot for long.
There were many hiding spots and corners to use in the kitchen, giving a careful player various options to get away, as well as provide routes under objects to steadily cross the room. It did force a short chase at the end of the room, though, offering no covering over an area the player would be just able to sprint through. If they weren’t quick enough, they would find the screen turning black before they could find out what the chef intended to do with that knife now.
Should the player make it past that, they could close the door and lock it behind them. The chef banged on the door, the barrier bulging in a way that hinted it wouldn’t hold him for long, as the game presented a new puzzle. This one used piles of meat in a way that fit the room, but also gave a sense of discomfort in what the player was grinding up. If the chef is willing to kill the player’s character, what was the player, in turn, pushing into that sausage grinder?
Upon completion of this puzzle, the player would enter an actual sea of tiny pairs of shoes. This final, unsettling scene was capped off with something moving around within the discarded footwear, making its way toward the player to end the demo with a fearful, yet hopeless, chase.
Little Nightmares’ developers prefer to call the game a thriller, but fearful elements are definitely there, hinting at what gruesome things the chef intends for you through the shoes and the relentless chase. The game already shows a great aptitude to create tension, both through the narrative and in being hunted by a clever enemy. It promises to bring its players a frightening experience upon its release soon.