PS4 (reviewed)/PC/Xbox One - Bandai - £16

Little Nightmares is a side-scrolling adventure platformer that takes place in a 3D space. You take control of Six, a tiny, yellow raincoat-clad protagonist with an uncertain background as you attempt to escape a series of dire and dingy rooms and head towards the tantalizing bright lights of freedom. It oozes unique style, but also seems strangely familiar at the same time...

The real draw of Little Nightmares is undoubtedly its art. The levels feel like a Tim Burton-esque diorama, and drip with bleak imagery, doing a superb job of crafting a terrible, depressing world. The game is a horror game that doesn’t rely on jump scares, and succeeds through its look, painting a disturbing, creepy environment that you’ll want to escape as soon as possible. Enemies tower over you, creatures scatter when you enter a room, and the lights cast sinister shadows on the walls. It’s every childhood fear wrapped up in one horrifying bundle, and its oppressive sensation doesn’t let up until the end. The foes are sad, freakish looking human-like creatures that are ten times as big as you, and communicate in nothing more than desperate moans and wails.

You’ll need to avoid them at all costs, so stealth is essential when creeping through the rooms of Little Nightmares. There’s a genuine sense of dread when you’re slowly making your way past one of these beings, and praying they don’t turn around and spot you.

It would be impossible to talk about Little Nightmares without referring to Playdead’s games, Limbo and Inside. It shares a startlingly similarity to these titles, particularly the latter, from the total lack of dialogue, the dark, distressing environments and the ambiguous visual storytelling. This is the game's core issue - most of the time it feels more like an imitator rather than innovator.

The game does have several standout moments, one of which will make you see Six in an entirely new light. The set pieces, such as being chased through hallways by the grotesque human-like masters, are well constructed, but the highs of Little Nightmares never reach those of Inside.

The problem is that the actual gameplay mechanics are nothing new. You’re not asked to do much more than push switches and find keys, and any puzzles that you run across won’t cause too much head scratching. It’s nothing you won’t have seen before, especially if you’re familiar with similar games in the genre, and it lacks the satisfaction that comes with cracking a tricky problem. A new mechanic is introduced right at the end of the game, but it’s used once, and then the credits roll.

Those credits come sooner than you might expect, too. My first play through took around three hours, and that’s with several deaths and a bit of exploring. The ending happens just as the story takes a turn, and feels abrupt for it. There are collectables, so if that’s your thing then there’s a reason to go back and play again, but for most people once will be enough.

Control wise, the game can feel clunky. Most of my deaths felt slightly unfair, a consequence of not grabbing a ledge at the right moment or succumbing to a lumbering enemy's unavoidable flailing arm. This is most notable in the intense confrontation moments, where a single slip up will cost you. Fair enough, but hard to swallow when it's the controls that let you down.

There’s no doubt that Little Nightmares is a disturbingly gorgeous game to look at. Artistically, it’s one of the most engaging games I’ve seen this year, and its imagery will stick with me for some time to come. The actual ‘game’ part of it though feels lacking, not helped by its length. If you’ve played Limbo and Inside and want more of the same, then Little Nightmares is an obvious choice. If you haven’t, seek them out first.

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