Little Nightmares is frightening. Not in a jump scare way, like turning a corner in Outlast and having an angry man yell at you, but in a way that gets under your skin. A way that whispers in your ear that you won’t sleep well tonight. Little Nightmares takes things you were afraid of when you were a kid, and reminds you you’re still afraid of them now.
In my preview of the game I went on about how it takes things that you’re familiar with and makes them a bit wrong. This is true of the full game, but taken to a darker level than I was expecting. Your nursery, your kitchen, your dining room, your mum’s bedroom, are all places you should feel safe, but in Little Nightmares they’re not safe, they feel relentlessly unsafe, at a degree that only children and people with unceasing anxiety usually experience. What is the worst thing that could happen to me, right now, having taken something I shouldn’t have? Having unlocked a door I’m not allowed behind?
It is that I will be hunted down by the adult in charge. They will chase me through the house, and I am not as fast as them. Even when I’m running at full speed they will gain on me. They will catch me, wrap me in linen and put me on a meathook. They will smother me in the guts of a fish. They will drop me in a grinder. They will swallow me whole.