Little Nightmares: why do critics love this creepy little game?

Three years after its official unveiling under a different title, Tarsier Studios' Little Nightmares has arrived on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Anyone can take a look and be impressed by its grotesque visual design, but how does this horrifying game of hide and seek actually feel to play? We'll have our own Little Nightmares review soon, but for now it sure sounds like those with a taste for the macabre ought to be happy with it. Read on to see what other critics are saying.

Little Nightmares' ability to get in your head - Polygon (8.5/10)

As I drifted off after an evening of playing the spooky puzzle-platformer, my mind filled with images of unnaturally long arms reaching for tiny hooded figures and I woke with my heart racing. I shook it off easily enough, but those few drowsy fearful moments marked Little Nightmares as a success in at least one aspect: it gave me the damn heebie-jeebies.

Little Nightmares' puzzles - Eurogamer (N/A)

The game's challenges don't change shape much in the course of the story - there are no new abilities to acquire save for a single bespoke mechanic during the finale - but the mood evolves in marvelous style as you piece together the labyrinth's secrets. The fourth chapter, in particular, delivers magnificently on the revolting implications of the previous areas. The game also ramps up the stakes steadily as you acclimatise to its logic: you'll gravitate from throwing objects at elevator buttons to retrieving a key from a mantelpiece while something vast and unspeakable wheezes on a bed nearby.

Little Nightmares' sound design - Destructoid (8.5/10)

The sound design is equally superb. Most of the game either lacks music or uses subtle ambiance, which puts a focus on the environment sounds such as the footsteps, floor creaking, breathing, and falling objects. Those sounds make every move significant, since any wrong step or knocked-over vase can spell your doom. Some tense music does play when you are being chased, but it feels appropriate and drives home the feeling of "yes, it's coming after you, so you better run!"

Little Nightmares' art direction - Rock, Paper, Shotgun (N/A)

Visually, it ended up reminding me of Edward Lear’s drawings and Gerald Scarfe’s work more than Tim Burton or Caro & Jeunet, who I figured were likely inspirations based on early glimpses of the game. All of the visuals tie together thematically as well, and while the opening may be vague and suggest there’s no real direction to the plot, Little Nightmares is a wordless tale with a lot to say. There’s a great big dollop of Animal Farm mixed into the meal, along with the more explicitly monstrous scares. 

Sam Prell

Sam is a former News Editor here at GamesRadar. His expert words have appeared on many of the web's well-known gaming sites, including Joystiq, Penny Arcade, Destructoid, and G4 Media, among others. Sam has a serious soft spot for MOBAs, MMOs, and emo music. Forever a farm boy, forever a '90s kid.