Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Little Nightmares: Secrets of the Maw (DLC)

Shortly after the release of Little Nightmares, a three-part DLC was released called Secrets of the Maw, which follows a different protagonist known as the Kid as he explores new areas of the Maw. My plan was to play the entire thing after all three episodes had been released, however I ended up putting it off for some time until I noticed that the Season Pass was discounted to $5 instead of $10. Even then, I couldn’t access the DLC right away until I learned that, despite purchasing the pass, I still had to claim and download each chapter individually. After finally getting to play through the DLC, I found it to be a worthy addition to the world of Little Nightmares.

Much like the base game, the story of Secrets of the Maw is told entirely without words, creating a certain atmosphere and allowing for some nice visual storytelling. Though shorter and in a different direction than Six, the Kid’s journey still provides some world-building on the inner workings of the Maw and its inhabitants. Due to its short length, I don’t want to get too much into spoilers, though I will say the ending has some weight to it if you remember an event from Six’s story.

The gameplay is generally similar to the base game, though one key difference is that the Kid is equipped with a flashlight rather than a lighter. This comes in handy since several areas of the game are very dimly-lit, if at all, and even becomes an important game mechanic during the last chapter. Some areas require a bit of puzzle-solving to advance, some trickier than others, as well as some very well-hidden collectibles, so well you can practically go the whole game without knowing they’re there unless you consult a guide, in the form of Flotsam jars. Additionally, there is a slide mechanic, though it can be tricky to pull off and is thankfully not relevant outside the first chapter.

The DLC retains the same visual style as the main story, though it tries to explore this style in different ways to create a sense of unease. There are some new inhabitants to the Maw to help mix things up, though their designs also fit within the aesthetic of the game. Much like the main Little Nightmares, the visuals mix well with the music to create a haunting atmosphere that captivates you and make you want to learn more about the setting.

That said, some sections of the game, such as chase and combat sequences, can become more frustrating than frightening on multiple attempts, though it seems to lean more towards trial and error than it does the game’s design. There was, however, one moment during the second chapter where, after finally managing to outrun a Janitor to complete a puzzle, said enemy was able to clip through the door in an attempt to search for me, which momentarily broke the immersion and reminded me I was playing a video game. I will also admit to consulting a walkthrough a handful of times to get through some sections of the game where I felt like I needed a small push, though a lot of it came down to my own stupidity while playing.

Little Nightmares: Secrets of the Maw is an interesting expansion on the world of Little Nightmares. As with the main game, the visual storytelling is on-point and it known how to create an atmosphere, even if the gameplay can be hit-and-miss depending on the player. Regardless, it’s worth the price of admission and, if you haven’t yet experienced it, may help tide you over until the announced Little Nightmares II is released.

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