Never-ending darkness. The only safety is from a small ray of light coming from your tiny flashlight. A creaking sound comes from behind you. You turn around, but of course, there’s nothing there. Your heart skips a few beats as you hear a child laughing in the distance. They’re watching you. Then, you start to hear small steps. Slow. But then the pause between each step becomes shorter. Someone’s coming…
The last and final episode of the Little Nightmares’ DLC is out, at last, and is titled The Residence. As the world of Six and The Runaway Kid has unfolded, we have eventually gotten more horrifying insight into what might exist in the Maw. However, there is one character left that has yet to tell her story; the Geisha.
Some say that a person’s home describes a lot about their personality. We get to explore the residence of the Geisha, who surrounds herself with creepy-looking dolls and plenty of books. What exactly this says about her we never fully know, but I am sure that there are several possible theories to why she’s so interested in literature and porcelain figures. All I can do is make an educated guess and say that there must be a quite uncomfortable and scary story behind her character.
The episode starts out eerily silent, but it doesn’t take long before you hear a song coming from a small music box. The song fades away as we explore further into the house, and the player eventually encounters a new enemy: small, dark apparitions with small masks. What makes them even more creepy is the fact that they have the look and laugh that resembles children. The only way to attack them is to shine at them with your flashlight, so hold on to that thing, because it is going to save your life. With that said, the mechanic instantly reminded me of Alan Wake, where you have to focus your flashlight on the ghosts to weaken them.
In contrast to the previous episodes in the DLC, The Residence gives you a greater illusion of a more open-world. We are much more free to explore, as there is not necessarily a given way to go. The puzzles don’t have to be solved in a certain order, and they feel more intricate and detailed. Roughly, The Kid has to find dolls that are scattered around the Geisha’s residence and put them in their proper place.
While this might seem simple at first, the complexity of finding each doll easily swallows the time. There is also a stronger action element, which is interesting and refreshing compared to the previous episodes in this DLC. As if my stress levels weren’t high enough playing this game!
Looking at the episode from the puzzle side of things, The Residence was definitely one of the more challenging ones. It is also the shortest, where I used up approximately 2 hours at a relatively slow pace. However, in those two short hours, we discover the terrible fate of all those who have suffered the wrath of the Geisha – with a pretty huge twist at the end… well, of course, I’m not going to reveal this now… play it for yourself and find out!
What Little Nightmares masters is the continuous suspense of not knowing what is in the next room. It gets really intense at times, and I love it: I had to remember to stop once in a while and take a breather. However, this universe’s definite greatest strength is its take on the concept of fear. As we have seen before in various shapes and forms, The Residence wants to see our reaction to darkness, masks, and creepy inanimate objects such as mannequins.
The Little Nightmares universe will always hold a special place for me. I followed the game when the working title was “Hunger,” and I remember going to a lecture where the narrative writer of the game told the audience how the game would play on people’s nightmares, and I thought, “There’s no way that I’m going to miss out on this game!” The borderline between horror, thriller, and uncanny valley is unique, and I have yet to see games that use these elements the same way that Little Nightmares do.
At the end of the episode, I got an achievement that said: “we’ll meet again.” And I cannot help but wonder; is this a suggestion that it might not be the last of Little Nightmares? Are we truly finished? There might not be anything special behind it, but it certainly peaked my curiosity. Even with all these questions, I don’t know if we will ever receive an answer.
The Runaway Kid’s story has come to an end. With beautiful scenery and masterful storytelling, this has been a memorable experience. What the Little Nightmares universe is so good at doing, is to tell my brain to be ready to hit the emergency panic button, and then cranking my anxiety up to the maximum. It starts out in uncomfortable silence before increasing to a horrifying crescendo.
It is clear that Tarsier Studios have worked incredibly hard to achieve something unique, and the result is the stuff of nightmares. But in a good way. Hope you’re not afraid of the dark.