ide and Seek is a horror game, you are running from a pursuer, hurriedly choose a hiding spot, the just wait with only breath and heart beats in your ears for a pair of legs to pass your slim field of view. They stop, you stop breathing, they pass, you start breathing and then they are back, your caught and the game is over. It is a design that horror games have always favoured but the most shock is the moment of being found Little Nightmares capture something more enounced, that creeping fright of waiting to be caught.
Guiding a tiny rain coated character called Six from left to right through the sea swaying innards of the mysterious ocean facility The Maw is a matter of avoiding instant death hazards and gentile puzzling about how to proceed it really feels as plainly mechanical as that.
Little Nightmares closest relatives are Playdead's Limbo and Inside, not just because of its faint glee of the idea of a child in mortal peril, out in how cleverly it braids together puzzle design, and storytelling, every enemy, every room, every meat grinder you use to make a rope of sausages to swing from contributes to the story of Six’s seeming breakout.
You will need to creep past smart, or most horrifyingly of all run and just hope that you are not caught by the likes of a nightmarish custodian deformed twin butchers, or the ghoulishly beautiful woman in a kabuki dress that haunts Six’s dreams.
Oddly for a horror game you know where your predators are and what they can potentially kill you at almost all times, you are more worried about knowing where you are, I don’t recall a single jump scare in the entirety of Little Nightmares runtime, but I do know that I yelped when the butcher wheezed and stooped to check under the greasy work bench that I was hiding under.
The Maw itself is the world’s worse dolls house made to reflect a small child’s view of a giant adult world. It allures as much as it repulses adding up to making one of the best gaming locations that I have seen in years, startlingly new and painstakingly tooled to encourage cautious exploration.
It’s a shame then that Little Nightmares primary problem are so boring, in precise platforming, trial and error puzzles, inconsistent checkpoints, and long load times mean death can become more frustrating than frightening, these are occasional issues though, more than made up in the constant pleasure of exploration.
Smart, grotesque and never endingly weird, this is a very different and extremely welcomed kind of horror game that left me wanting far more than its brief 5 hours provides.