I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of recommending the brilliantly twisted Little Nightmares to anyone who’ll listen – Tarsier Studios indie horror/platformer is genuinely one of the best games I’ve played this year.
A big part of the game’s demented charm is its unique, Burtonesque aesthetic, and the way it manages to tell a gripping story without a single line of dialogue.
The world of Little Nightmares is one that left me fascinated, never quite explaining anything fully and leaving the characters and locations open to interpretation and debate – As such, I was in two minds when it was announced that the game would be getting a prequel in the form of a comic book.
After all, when the game itself showed so much restraint in its storytelling, would a comic book explain things that nobody wanted explaining in the first place, robbing Little Nightmares of its exquisite sense of mystery?
Thankfully, if the first two issues are any indication, it seems that writer John Shackleford has wisely opted to provide insight into the world that exists around the game, rather than try to address the events of the game itself – events many fans are still trying to make sense of.
Mercifully then, Six (the game’s protagonist) and the mysterious Maw (the ship upon which the game takes place), remain – at least for now – as enigmatic as the game left them.
The first issue opens with Six – before the events of the game – avoiding some of The Maw’s hungrier inhabitants before stumbling across a small group of children who, like her, have found their way to the ship somehow and are simply trying to survive.
Shackleford uses the other kids in this story (who didn’t appear in the game) as a window to the state of the world outside, cleverly world-building in a way that doesn’t negatively effect anything that was established in the game, or that could contradict the upcoming DLC.
As it transpires, the world outside The Maw is just as fucked up, full of terrifying creatures and grown ups who seem to be okay with murdering (and possibly eating) kids.
The horrors the children claim to have faced as they regale Six with details of the outside world are truly disturbing, and would have been worthy, chilling additions to the game itself – there’s one very freaky story about something called “The North Wind” that I’d love to see in any future sequel.
It’s wisely left unexplained exactly why this twisted world is the way it is – maybe there was some kind of horrific event, or maybe it was always this way? Any reason to continue speculating on the lore of Little Nightmares is welcome in my book.
Brilliantly, the comic gets to continue building a world that’s just as full of mystery and danger as the game itself, subtly leaving hints as to why the children would ever have made their way to The Maw in the first place.
It helps that artist Aaron Alexovich has carefully mimicked the style and designs of the game, while bringing enough of himself to the page to ensure things remain interesting – this book truly is a treat for the eyes, although the action scenes can often get a little muddled, making it unclear what exactly was happening to who at times.
If you were coming to the Little Nightmares comic looking for concrete answers regarding the origins of Six and The Maw, you’re probably gonna leave disappointed.
If however, you’re simply looking for more of the twisted fairy tale ideas, and aesthetic that made the game such a hit, then you’ll find plenty to love here.