Little Nightmares' Switch Port is a Dark, Imperfect Dive Into the Maw
Little Nightmares Complete Edition is a twisted and competent port of one of 2017's most eerie and atmospheric games, even if it doesn't return unscathed.
When it comes to horror, whether it be in movies or video games, I tend to prefer a more subtle approach, rather than one that relies on cheap and fake feeling scare tactics. I prefer the physiological terror induced by a movie like The Shining rather than the incessant and annoying jump scares of a game like Five Nights at Freddy’s. Fortunately, Little Nightmares falls on the more favorable side of things, presenting a short but sweet atmospheric horror platformer that relies more on atmosphere than jump scares.
As Little Nightmares was one of the eeriest and most atmospheric games of 2017, I was happy to see that Tarsier Studios and Bandai Namco were bringing the game over to Nintendo Switch with its DLC as Little Nightmares: Complete Edition. While this port is inferior to the other available versions due to a few technical problems, it is still a competent port that should please those who opt to pick up the game on Nintendo’s console-handheld hybrid.
The Nintendo Switch version of Little Nightmares: Complete Edition bundles both the base game and the Secret of the Maw DLC which came to other platforms last year. The main game follows a little girl named Six who wears a striking yellow jacket that allows her to always stand out in The Maw, a dark and dreary ship full of disgusting blacks, grays, and browns that Six is stuck on.
Little Nightmares Complete Edition uses both lighting and sound design effectively to establish the game’s tone and mood, both in the environments and in gameplay. Little Nightmares features some of the most intricate lighting I’ve seen on Nintendo Switch, though it is not without the occasional graphical hiccup. The excellent sound design of the other versions also carries over, so I’d recommend playing with a pair of headphones, especially in handheld mode.
“Little Nightmares was one of the eeriest and most atmospheric games of 2017″
While the main story can be completed in under four hours, every part of the game is fine-tuned to create a chilling, though not always outright scary experience. The DLC stories, which follow a boy called the Runaway Kid are equally well-crafted, and help broaden this port’s appeal to those who just own the base game on other platforms.
When it comes to Switch exclusives features, there is not much outside of a creepy Pakku mask received by scanning the Pac-Man amiibo and some clever use of HD Rumble and embellish the sound effects of a growling belly or beating heart. That being said, this isn’t much of a problem due to the base game’s quality, especially if you’ve never played it.
If you do decide to pick up the Nintendo Switch version of the game, you should be aware of some of the technical problems Little Nightmares runs into on the platform. The resolution stays at 720p or below at all times, even in docked mode so that the game can look less crisp than the other versions of the game at some points.
The problems with the lighting mentioned above would also sometimes take away the impact of some of the more somber rooms. Outside of that, there were one or two frame rate dips, but there was nothing that outright ruined the gameplay for me. While most of these technical issues are very minor and can be looked over, the games long load times do damper the whole experience.
Every time the player dies, they are subjected to a lengthy load screens that usually last almost a minute. While this wouldn’t be as annoying if they didn’t pop up often, several points in Little Nightmares rely on trial-and-error puzzles and enemy confrontation. As a result, constant load times in these sections can quickly add up and bog down the pacing during those sections.
“Little Nightmares was already an atmospheric and fantastic blend of horror….”
Even though the load times are noticeably long, they aren’t a deal breaker. The inherent portability of this version of the game its bite-sized level design and overall length, and lack of too much competition on the platform make Little Nightmares Complete Edition good fit for Nintendo Switch.
A $30 price tag may be a bit steep for some, as Little Nightmares Complete Edition only includes around seven hours of previously released content, but both horror and puzzle-platforming fans should still enjoy the experience. Little Nightmares was already an atmospheric and fantastic blend of horror and platforming when it released last year, and this port will just expose the game to a whole new audience that may not be as familiar with games of this style.