If you’ve played Little Nightmares then you’ll know its story arguably poses more questions than it definitively answers. It’s partly what made it so intriguing. Now we have the first chapter of its three-part DLC, The Depths. Running parallel to Six’s story, this time players will control a young lad known as the Runaway Kid.
The Depths does very little to distinguish itself from the main game from a mechanical standpoint. Six and the Kid feel exactly the same to play and the only real difference between them is that he has a torch instead of a lighter. Let’s be honest the source of your light is hardly a game-changing feature. Yes, it provides a more constant beam compared to the flickering of the lighter but the truth is, you simply don’t need to use it.
The pacing is a little different though, for better and worse. The horrific member of the Maw you come up against in this chapter is known as the Granny. She looks exactly how you’d imagine a monstrous old lady with a penchant for lurking underwater to look. Wrinkly and terrifying, basically. You won’t be setting your eyes on her properly for a while though. Unlike Six’s story, The Depths doesn’t shove the monsters in your face immediately.
You see, the Granny spends a lot of time underwater, like some geriatric version of Jaws. She stalks you beneath the surface and drags you to a watery grave with her bony hand. And that’s pretty much all you get for the early moments of the chapter with a few more glimpses offered as the story progresses. This makes her much creepier than her fellow Maw members and builds a good amount of tension for a while. Something that can easily murder you is always more terrifying when don’t truly know what you’re up against.
The problem though is how you interact with her. You’ll find yourself swimming through Granny-infested waters, scurrying towards floating objects to avoid her grasp. You’ll never really feel like you’re in danger as these sections are incredibly straightforward and you’re often given a generous head start. You just hop from one floating suitcase to another until you make it to the other side of the room. It’s always kind of unsettling to see her closing in on you, but you never feel completely helpless.
The only struggle you’ll face is the most notorious of villains – irritating glitches. Occasionally the Granny will stick her monstrous hands out of the water and you’ll be a good metre or two away but find yourself teleported back into her fatal grip. There’s a minor teleportation glitch in the main game that you’d forgive because it helped you and it’s not massively noticeable. However, when a bug unfairly gets you killed, it’s a much bigger problem.
Aside from the sections that have you lackadaisically swimming for your life, the Depths tasks you with tackling a number of fairly straightforward puzzles. They mostly involve moving objects about so you can get to a previously inaccessible spot. Much like Six’s story these are never particularly taxing and instead just feel really drawn out. One puzzle involving a crank sees you traipsing back and forth in an attempt to make the puzzle multi-staged. But because it’s not mentally taxing it ends up feeling more like a tedious fetch quest.
Once again, the reason to delve back into the world of Little Nightmares is the world that has been created. The Maw remains an unsettling place to be with its grotesque inhabitants and dark themes creating something scary without the need for obvious horror tropes. Uncovering its secrets and watching the story unfold is the main pull of Little Nightmares, it’s just a shame the act of playing remains mediocre.