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Little Nightmares: The Depths
Score: 70%
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Developer: Tarsier Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Platformer/Survival Horror/Stealth

Introduction:

Little Nightmares almost made my top ten list for 2017, but its brevity and occasional mechanical problems kept it from getting there. That being said, itís an experience that has stuck with me over the months; between its gruesome setting, incredibly intense stealth gameplay, and wordless, visual-driven story, Iím not likely going to forget it any time soon. This game shows its monsters in plain sight for most of its runtime without losing an iota of either its fear factor or its nerve-shredding tension -- and thatís no small feat. But the developers at Tarsier Studios arenít done yet. A three-part side-story called Secrets of the Maw is in the middle of its release cycle. It seeks to deepen and enrich the core experience by allowing us to experience the horrors of the Maw through the eyes of a new character, a mop-headed youth known as the Runaway Kid. Little Nightmares: The Depths is incredibly inexpensive and yet just barely manages to justify its price.

The Lost Boy:

If you played Little Nightmares to its grim, portentous conclusion, you donít need any explanation from me regarding exactly how unfriendly a place the Maw is. Six, the little girl in the yellow raincoat, has indeed made it out, but not without incurring a grievous cost to her soul. Granted, that still puts her head and shoulders above the numerous other children who have, for some reason, been unfortunate enough to find themselves in this waking nightmare; the piles of shoes sheís had to wade through on her hellish journey should be proof enough. But a certain mop-headed kid you may or may not remember from the original game isnít exactly content to be reduced to more fuel for this raging, all-consuming fire. No, this youngster is a survivor, though his torment may be only just beginning.

Little Nightmares: The Depths generally sticks to the thematic and gameplay tropes established in the core game, and save for the introduction of a new villain (the Granny), doesnít break any new ground. Itís the same kind of ordeal; you navigate a series of three-dimensional and two-dimensional spaces, simultaneously finding a way forward and avoiding danger. Itís usually easier said than done; having to solve puzzles and remain stealthy at the same time is still a wonderfully intense, high-stakes version of hide-and-seek. But most of The Depthsí runtime is spent in the dark with very little to do besides move in the only direction that allows progress. The final encounter is pretty frightening for anyone whoís harbored a fear of things living in deep water, but itís easy enough to the point where youíll probably know what to do the second you get a grip on your surroundings.


Conclusion:

I canít accuse Little Nightmares: The Depths of being a cash grab; itís way too cheap to be considered as such. Seriously, your dayís lunch will cost you more. $3.99 is reasonable for this release, though I wouldnít consider it to be on the same level as the core game. There are a few baffling technical problems, most notably the stuttering frame rate and an achievement that didnít unlock for me despite the fact that I clearly met its requirements.

I donít recommend The Depths as a standalone purchase for many reasons: first and foremost among them being its obvious lack of resolution. As of this writing, I would wait for the release cycle to complete, take into account its overall reception, and then consider buying all three at once (you can get Secrets of the Maw as a Season Pass and save a few bucks). Think of The Depths as you would a regular chapter of Little Nightmares, but know that while itís about as long as one, itís definitely the weakest of them.


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