The creepy hor­ror-plat­former full of lit­tle (ter­ri­fy­ing) sur­prises

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - CONTENTS - Daniella Lu­cas Pub­lisheR Bandai Namco De­vel­oper TAr­sier Stu­dios For­mat Xbox One ETA April 28 2017

You know that cold shiver that trav­els up your back when you see some­thing that’s not quite right? A paint­ing’s eyes mov­ing, or haunt­ing faces in spack­led walls—not the all-out hor­ror of zom­bies jump­ing out from be­hind cor­ners—but that feel­ing of some­thing sin­is­ter gen­tly lean­ing over you a bit too closely and stroking your arm. That’s what play­ing Lit­tle Night­mares feels like.

It’s wholly un­like con­ven­tional hor­ror games where you can blast nasty things with shot­guns or hide in lock­ers. In­stead you play as a young girl called Six who nav­i­gates her way through a se­ries of creepy puz­zles and plat­form­ing sec­tions in a bid to es­cape The Maw—an un­der­wa­ter house of hor­rors brim­ming with cor­rupted souls ea­ger to munch on your lit­tle yel­low-anoraked head.

Vis­ually it feels a bit like a Tim Burton set—ev­ery­day ob­jects feel twisted and gnarled, and limbs are com­pletely out of pro­por­tion. Each room is un­nat­u­rally tall, and gives the im­pres­sion that the world is loom­ing over you. It’s un­nerv­ing, es­pe­cially as the light­ing keeps you guess­ing with flickers and tac­tile dim­ness.

“We have to creep past a man with a melted face and spider-like arms”

Tip-toe trauma

In our hands-on demo we have to creep past a squat man with a melted face and long, thin, spider-like arms (*shud­der*) that con­stantly tap the floor search­ing for you. He’s com­pletely blind but can hear the slight­est creak in the floor­boards, and will quickly snatch up your tiny body and press you to his ear if you make any noise. The sight of other grey chil­dren trapped in cages in his lair im­ply that this won’t end well.

While each room is viewed from a set an­gle (kind of like a doll’s house) you can look around with the Left Stick to as­sess your sur­round­ings. There are draw­ers to climb, boxes to hide in, and noisy toys strewn around the floor to avoid. There’s al­ways a larger puzzle to look for in each room you en­ter—in this case dash­ing be­tween sound-damp­en­ing patches of soft car­pet that your touchy-feely ad­ver­sary can’t hear you on.

It’s not al­ways clear what you need to do, and spot­ting the dif­fer­ence be­tween sur­faces you can and can’t climb is quite tricky. The plat­form­ing bits also boast more Limbo- es­que floaty­ness than Mario-like pre­ci­sion, so can be mildly frus­trat­ing at times, though the charm of Lit­tle Night­mares’ art de­sign and un­set­tling at­mos­phere more than make up for that.

Here we find a fresh breed of ter­ror from the Re­sis and the Out­lasts, one that trades on the imag­ined mon­sters-in-clos­ets of our child­hoods over bloody gore. This is one to watch out for from be­hind your sofa.

Above Spoiler alert: Those long, long arms aren’t for giv­ing bet­ter hugs.

below Not ev­ery­thing is nasty—you’ll find these lit­tle friends hid­den around The Maw.

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