Tarsier Studios is an indie developer that started by working on projects exclusive to PlayStation hardware. Their most recognized work before Little Nightmares was Little Big Planet PS Vita followed by Little Big Planet 3. As a studio, they showed a lot of promise and potential for future projects however Little Nightmares didn’t really end up making a long lasting impression for them. It was a good game but one that had some minor flaws that hindered its potential.
If memory serves me right, Little Nightmares was released around that time when INSIDE was out for a while and set a new benchmark for its genre. Both carried similar aesthetics for their gameplay and were dark and gritty in nature. While INSIDE was a critical and commercial success, it never felt like Little Nightmares managed to get the same attention. It ended up receiving a post-launch DLC that expanded on the story which helped with the complaint of the game lacking content and replay value, or being extremely short for its asking price.
This brings us to the Nintendo Switch release for Little Nightmares. Even though Little Nightmares relies on simplistic visuals and a lot of post process effects to make up for its grim and Burton-esque art style, it still had a certain technical look that could have lost in translation if there was a port without much care given to it. Thankfully despite the low resolution of the Nintendo Switch port, Little Nightmares has managed to keep most of its look intact without any major visual sacrifices to get it running on the Nintendo Switch.
In term of the technical makeup of the game, Little Nightmares runs at a native 720p resolution while targeting 30 FPS. It is not exactly a locked experience since there can be some dips that affect performance, but it is mostly a solid experience even if we compare it next to the console version. The portable nature of the Switch actually works really well here although the screen size makes it harder to appreciate some of the background detail, and it can also make it difficult to play the game in well lit room.
The overly dark tone of the game means you will have to rely on your only light source, which is a lighter in the game. As a side-scrolling adventure game that has a lot of difficult puzzles, trying to figure out the solution will require you to carefully analyze the environment and look for potential clues or places to climb. This will be hard to do if you are playing in portable mode, atleast in my case this was a problem for me. This is why I mostly preferred to play it in docked mode. The lower resolution was not a problem and the softer look blends well with the film grain and chromatic aberration that is used in the game.
The Complete Edition for Little Nightmares actually manages to fix one of the major issues with the original release, which was its incredibly short time. The story DLC that was released later was called ‘Secrets of the Maw” and added almost another huge section to the game with a different character. This felt like a major part of the core game that was cut for some reason and then sold later as a DLC. At any rate the Nintendo Switch version is now feature complete and naturally feels more cohesive as a whole because of the way the DLC’s story has been integrated with the main game.
The two characters that are playable in the Complete Edition for Little Nightmares are Six and the Kid. Naturally, you should start with Six since once you are done with the story, the game will continue on with the Kid. Each character has their story divided in chapters making it easier for you to go back and forth between them. I was surprised by the playtime offered by the Kid’s chapters which might be less in quantity but they were far better paced. They also offered more insight into the creepy world of Maw. It certainly feels like a place where you are facing literal nightmares everyday.
As a side-scrolling platformer that offers plenty of puzzles, Little Nightmares has a great set of physics and animations. Actually, it reminds me of INSIDE here which was also great in this category. The controls are basic and simple to grasp. You character will be able to use a lighter for dark areas and grab objects. It is also possible to run and jump or crouch to hide beneath objects or pass through crevices. Puzzles revolve around you pushing or pulling objects like a Switch. The challenge is in figuring out which part of the puzzles fits where, and it is satisfying to finally figure them out on your own.
There is one aspect of Little Nightmares that ends up being a sore thumb the more you progress in the game. This is the loading between the levels and especially the load times when you die. Somehow they seem to be even longer here on the Nintendo Switch which means during certain sections later in the story, you will have to go through the lengthy load times again over a dumb mistake just to progress through the story. It could have been manageable if the load times were rather modest, but they are also variable hence resulting in an inconsistent experience. Just avoid dying too much if you don’t want to end up with a frustrating experience.
Little Nightmares: Complete Edition Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Do you remember your childhood fears? Immerse yourself in Little Nightmares, a dark whimsical tale that will confront you with your childhood fears as you help Six & The Kid escape The Maw – a vast, mysterious vessel inhabited by corrupted souls looking for their next meal!
Little Nightmares: Complete Edition thankfully hasn’t suffered from a noticeable downgrade to get it running on the Nintendo Switch. This is a good opportunity for those who are in the market for a puzzle platformer to give it a chance since some of the issues with the initial game are now fixed with the Complete Edition.