Bandai Namco doesn't usually publish smaller indie titles, but Little Nightmares
is breaking that mold. The game places players in the shoes
yellow raincoat of a small child called Six. She's currently living in a nightmare, stuck on a haunted ship called The Maw. Her captors are called the inhabitants -- they're the people that live permanently on the ship. The inhabitants that we met were rather overweight chefs with corrupted souls who were set on turning Six into dinner. We don't know anything about Six or how she came to be on the ship, but we do know that she must escape if she is to avoid being turned into somebody's next meal.
With that premise you would expect a survival horror title, but you would be wrong. Little Nightmares
is a puzzle game with platforming elements and a lingering haunting atmosphere. You get no hints that tell you how to progress -- the only hints that you receive tell you which buttons to press, so you must work out how to get out of your current situation. While the game does not rush you to find the solutions to the obstructions in front of you, you never feel like you want to stay in one place for any length of time in case you are seen and captured. You must be quiet and stealthy and you must always be aware of your surroundings if you are to survive.
Due to her small stature, everything appears to be oversized to Six, including the grotesque chefs. If the chefs spot you, they will let out a terrifying screech before they relentlessly hunt you down. Despite their size, they can move quickly and their longer arms give them a much longer reach. This does mean, though, that she can do things that adults can't do, like crawl under cupboards, get through small ventilation grates or use shelves as climbing frames. She has a lighter to help her to see in dark spots, although sometimes you wish that you'd just stayed ignorant of your surroundings instead. She can also whistle to distract her foes, although we didn't see this in action.
The ten minutes that we spent with the game left us wanting more, even if we did get spotted by the chef and spent a worrying couple of minutes cowering under a table, barely out of reach of his grubby grasping fingers. On the developer session stage, developer Tarsier Studios' CEO Ola Holmdahl showed us how to escape without any trouble. The gameplay begins at the 8:40 mark if you're most interested in that, while Holmdahl provides more details on the game both before and after the gameplay.
will give you nightmares when it is released next year. At the very least, you won't be able to look at chefs the same way again.