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Video Game / Little Nightmares

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Play with your childhood fears...

Little Nightmares is a strange, dark, and haunting Horror Puzzle Platformer (similar to Limbo or INSIDE), developed by Tarsier Studios and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. It was released on the PS4, Xbox One and Steam on April 28, 2017. A Nintendo Switch port was released on May 18, 2018, and it includes DLC released earlier.

The game stars a very small barefoot girl in a yellow raincoat named Six, who travels through a strange, unnerving, dark, and massive structure that is hidden below the waves of the ocean and filled with a variety of different rooms of various shapes and purpose. It is known as the Maw.

Of course, she is not the only inhabitant of this dark building. Alongside her are small, friendly, mushroom-like creatures called Nomes that seem to hide from the various Monstrous Humanoids, ranging from the Janitor and Twin Chefs who are respectively tasked with capturing and cooking children, to the gluttonous guests of the vessel who seem rather intent on devouring her and who knows what else, and the Lady, the supreme leader of the Maw who runs the operation. The girl, using her wits alone, must survive the awful things in her way, and aid the Nomes as she makes her way through the various rooms.


A three-part DLC titled Secrets of the Maw stars the Runaway Kid, a boy in a blue shirt and an ankle shackle also trying to escape from the Maw around the same time as Six. The first chapter, The Depths, was released on July 6th, with the second chapter, The Hideaway, on November 10th, and the third and final chapter, The Residence, released on February 23rd, 2018. Very Little Nightmares, a puzzle adventure Prequel game for mobile devices was announced in April 2019 and released in May 2019. Additionally, six motion comics have also been released on the app store for IOS and Android that serve as a prequel to Little Nightmares II, and a comic book adaptation that planned on greatly expanding the game's world was begun but was unfortunately canceled.

The game's follow-up, Little Nightmares II was announced at the 2019 Gamescom and was released on February 11, 2021.


A TV adaptation is reportedly in the works, directed by Henry Selick of Coraline fame.

For tropes applying to specific characters, sneak into the character page.

Little Nightmares brings your fears to life with the following tropes:

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    General Setting, Themes, & Gameplay 
  • 2½D: It's essentially a side-scroller with some extra depth. Six rarely has to walk away from or toward the player for any significant period of time.
  • Ambiguously Human: In a world full of Humanoid Abomination, it's hard to tell who is a real human and who is a different species.
  • Arc Symbol:
    • The Eye Motif appearing in the games' logos and locations.
    • Televisions.
  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: There's a number of locations in the Maw where an attempt has been made to board the door up — such a poor attempt that a tiny child can just pull the boards off and crawl through.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Justified as the children are tiny compared to the monstrous residents of the Maw, making air vents some of the safest and most accessible places to hide from them.
  • Barefoot Captive: Six, The Runaway Kid, and The Girl in the Yellow Raincoat are this.
  • Big Bad: The Lady is the owner of the Maw who runs the child-kidnapping operation and has the kids fed to her guests, making her the main enemy of Six and the Runway Kid.
  • Blackout Basement: Many areas of the Maw are too dark to see in without using Six's lighter or the Runaway Kid's flashlight.
  • Body Horror: The game employs a good bit of this, from the children's bodies twitching after dying from a fall or being electrocuted to the Sickening Slaughterhouse elements of the Kitchen to the general uncanniness of the enemies.
  • Crapsack World: The Maw is a continuously self-consuming death trap of misery and suffering. The sequel and tie-in comics suggest that the world outside is even worse, populated almost exclusively by grotesque monsters that exist to torment and brutalize children.
  • Cymbal-Banging Monkey: These monkey toys are inexplicably scattered about the Maw. They activate when thrown and can be used to distract the Janitor.
  • Darkness Equals Death: The Maw is darkest in its most dangerous areas.
  • Deadly Environment Prison: The Maw is nigh impossible for a runaway child to survive, even if they make it out of the Prison. And beyond that, the whole structure spends most of the year on the ocean floor, making escape almost unthinkable.
  • Death of a Child: As a Horror Game with kid protagonists, it features this as an inevitable thematic element. To make matters worse, all the children in the Maw are destined to be cooked and eaten as soon as they are large enough.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Whenever the Player Character is caught and dies, they'll respawn in a Troubled Fetal Position and startle awake as if from a nightmare. If they die by not-as-violent means (like falling), they will awaken more calmly.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: All the child protagonists never wear shoes despite there being shoes their size lying around.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The whole idea of children being abducted and brought to an island to be “prepared” for wealthy elites carries a disturbing resemblance to real-life Human Trafficking operations.
  • Eldritch Location: The Maw is a huge, mysterious monstrosity that sits below the waves and resurfaces at the same time every year to allow more "guests" (the monsters, apparently) to arrive like a twisted hotel. Between loads, it latches itself to the seafloor with giant metal claws and simply waits until the next time it can resurface.
  • Eternal Engine: The Maw is an extremely large mechanical-looking place, and some of the levels take place in its inner workings, which are filled with pipes and such.
  • Evil Is Bigger: Almost all of the evil denizens of the Maw are monstrous in size compared to the heroic children.
  • Evil Is Not Well-Lit: More areas on the Maw are dim, dank, and dark than are well lit. The quarters and residence of the sinister Lady are some of the darkest parts of the Maw, possibly because the Lady's powers are hostile to light.
  • Eye Motif: The Maw is riddled with eyeball designs, usually on doors. One of the most common traps are spotlight-eyeballs that apparently turn their victims to stone, there are incidental rooms with eye-shaped security screens that switch between views by blinking, and the massive gate to the main entrance that Six eventually walks out of is adorned with a large stone eye. The game's logo is Six standing in the iris of an eye.
  • Fairy Tale Motifs: An Evil Sorceress obsessed with mirrors who associates with dark magical forces? Children lured into a supposed safe place, only to be cooked and eaten by giant creatures? Check and check.
  • Hell Hotel: The Maw seems to be one. It hosts "Guests" and is littered with the suitcases of previous ones.
  • Horror Video Game: Suspenseful, creepy, and deeply unsettling, while not overtly gory.
  • I Can't Reach It: The rules about what the player character can and can't climb, pull themself onto, or interact with are a bit inconsistent. Six can muscle her way up onto a plot-relevant shelf from a dead hang, but can't get up on a crate of uneven blocks.
  • Imminent Danger Clue: Whenever you see a small crate, alcove, or other space you could crawl into to hide, you can be certain you'll have to use it to hide from a monster pretty soon.
  • It Kind of Looks Like a Face: The Maw from the outside resembles a massive frog-like face; Guests enter through its open mouth.
  • Literal Metaphor: An interview with Tarsier suggests that this is the reason why the children in the world of Little Nightmares are so small. It's to depict their vulnerability in a world that wasn't made for them.
  • Living Ship: Some information provided on the game's website suggests the Maw might be this.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The structure the children are escaping is called the Maw.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The Maw has blood-sucking leeches, bottomless pits, and flooded areas that contain multiple electric appliances.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The exact nature of the Maw and the world it exists in is left mostly unexplained save for some supplementary details on the game's website; no one in-game ever speaks to the protagonists, and no documents explain it.
  • Oddly Small Organization: Despite the Maw's vast size, it appears to only have a staff of three (not counting the Lady). One would expect a large submarine facility with kitchens, large dining halls, a prison, nurseries, and any number of engineering areas to require hundreds to maintain and operate, but all that's even seen are two cooks and a janitor. If there are more workers offscreen, their presence isn't seen or hinted at.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: Wind-up music boxes are one of the items inexplicably scattered around the Maw. They play a short bit of a creepy tune when thrown.
  • Pleasure Island: The Maw from the perspective of its Guests, it's implied. They come on board to enjoy a feast unlike any other, only to be consumed by the Lady's powers or by later Guests.
  • Puzzle Platformer: You can walk, run, climb, and interact with items, but not fight. At least, not in conventional ways...
  • Room Escape Game: Essentially a long string of these. Since the children are so small compared to the environments around them, simply moving to the next room often requires a good bit of ingenuity.
  • Ryokan Inn: The Guest Area is clearly inspired by this aesthetic.
  • Soft Glass: The bottles, jars, statues, and the like (glass or otherwise) in the Maw will shatter immediately after being thrown or dropped from any height.
  • The Speechless: No one in the Maw ever says a word, though shrieks, grunts, and even singing are plentiful.
  • Stealth-Based Game: Much of the game is spent running or hiding from large enemies the player usually has no way to fight back against.
  • Surreal Horror: Why are the children so much smaller than the adults? What is this place? How long has it existed? Who built it? Why did they build it? What is it for? How big is it? These are just a few of the questions the game poses but refuses to answer.
  • Underwater Base: The Maw is latched onto the ocean floor and only surfaces once a year.
  • When All Else Fails, Go Right: The game mostly progresses in a left-to-right fashion, though there are often secrets to be found by going left instead.
  • World Gone Mad: The world of Little Nightmares is, simply put, a horribly surreal parody of adult society; a place of gigantic, disfigured Humanoid Abominations and mind-bending locations with unexplainably twisted norms, where the children scurrying in the shadows are considered little better than vermin at best. That's not even taking into account how some of these monsters and places can straight up warp reality, and the tie-in comics as well as the sequel show that the Maw could actually be considered one of the saner locations in the world.

    The Main Game 
  • 13 Is Unlucky:
    • There are thirteen Nomes you can interact with to get the "Little Lost Things" achievement: you hug twelve, and the thirteenth is the one you eat.
    • In a subtle inverted example, you have to light thirteen of the twenty lanterns/candles scattered about the Maw for the "Light Up Your Life" achievement.
  • Abandoned Playground: Played With. One of the environments Six traverses in the Prison is a dark, empty playroom with a squeaky carousel and lots of things to trip over.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Where will Six go now that she's escaped the Maw? Why does she have these strange powers she's acquired, and what does she intend to do with them? What connection (if any) did she have to the Lady? Has her experience on the Maw changed her for the better...or for the worse? And if the Maw is this terrible...what is the outside world like? The sequel seems set to answer the last query, but the rest ...
  • Asian Rune Chant: Or something similar can be heard in the track "March of the Guests", which plays while the Guests are entering the Maw.
  • Arc Villain: One in each chapter expect the first, the following are the Janitor, the Twin Chefs, the Guests and the Lady.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Six, who is arguably the most heroic character in the main game, is a little girl with petite features. All of the antagonists are monstrously ugly, from the Janitor to the Guests. The Lady is the only one to avert this, and even she is given an old and ugly reflection without her mask on in the DLC.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: Six climbs up one to get into the Prison. Who put it there is ambiguous at the time, but in the DLC we see it was used by another escaping child.
  • Blackout Basement: Some of the game's locations are too dark to see in clearly without using Six's lighter.
  • Bloody Handprint: There are inky handprints that resemble blood throughout the Prison, often indicating to Six where she needs to go.
  • Bookends: The game begins and (nearly) ends with a Face-Revealing Turn: in Six's nightmare in the beginning it's the Lady, and at the end it's Six herself.
  • Cacophony Cover Up: In the library level, the Janitor will immediately hear you operating the piano winch unless you turn on the noisy TV to distract him.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: At the end of the game, after Six kills and eats the Lady who runs the Maw, she obtains dark powers very similar to the Lady's. She uses these to essentially suck the life out of the patrons as she calmly exits the Maw. Then again, it's unclear if this counts as cannibalism, as there's nothing that confirms Six, the Lady, or the Guests belong to the same species.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Six wakes up this way from her nightmare about the Lady at the beginning of the game, as well as every time she respawns after being caught by a major antagonist. When she dies in less violent ways, she awakes more calmly.
  • Children Are Innocent: Despite her situation, Six often makes time to enjoy herself. In the video of the demo she jumps on the Chefs' bed for a moment, and in a trailer, she saves a Nome trapped in a jar before befriending it. The game itself includes many similar opportunities to explore and mess around, especially in the playroom.
    • Two of the hidden achievements require this kind of playing around. For "Highly Sprung" you have to bounce six times on any of the Maw's various beds and mattresses, and you get "Six's Song" after running back and forth on the piano's keys.
  • Climactic Music:
    • Six's theme, which plays throughout the trailers and in some parts of the game, is given a large part when Six uses her powers to kill the guests of the Maw and walk to freedom.
    • The music that plays during the chase in the Guest Area is synced with your progress. It's an incredibly effective use of sound to heighten tension.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Though a dark Deconstruction of one. In traditional Coming of Age stories, the protagonist grows into a mature and well-rounded adult, to better match with the expectations of society. Unfortunately, the society of Little Nightmares is one that feeds on children like Six, so the game treats her growing maturity with a very sinister undertone. The major turning point of the story comes when Six eats a defenseless gnome for sustenance despite him offering her a sausage, demonstrating how even Six finds more joy in snuffing out an innocent life than eating normal food. The story ends with Six killing the Lady and taking control of her powers, and ends with her confidently marching out of the Maw, slaughtering the patrons effortlessly. In the end, Six became strong enough to stand on her own and defend herself, but it cost her humanity and compassion.
  • Covert Pervert: Somebody on this ship is one. There's a one way mirror in a bathroom in the Guest Area with a chair behind it, and another bathroom can be viewed via the secret surveillance room.
  • Creepy Children Singing: Six's theme is this as the song plays with what seems like Six humming along to the tune. The only times you hear it are while Six is eating the bread, the meat, the Nome, the Lady, and when she eventually kills all the customers while exiting the Maw.
  • Creepy Doll: The Janitor seems to make or collect these. He has a whole room full of them.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Six can get dropped into boiling soup, shoved in an oven, or even stuffed into a fish in the Kitchen.
  • Darkness Equals Death: Most of the areas you traverse are not particularly well lit, and every time Six eats something the lights flicker and dim, revealing a shadowy doppelganger. All this culminates in the area where you fight the final boss. The Lady is fought in almost complete darkness, and once Six acquires her powers you realize why: as she walks out of the Maw, the light bulbs blow out in her wake before she slays the Guests at the end of the game.
  • Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: At the end of the game, when the main doors to the Maw open before her, Six has to shield her eyes from the glare of the bright sunlight.
  • Devoured by the Horde: If multiple leeches catch up to Six, they will wrap around her and devour her.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In the second act of the game while Six is stalked by the Janitor, she has to crawl through a room filled to the brink with the thousands of discarded shoes likely worn by his victims. This is highly analogous to The Holocaust, during which the shoes and hats of concentration camp prisoners were piled up in a similar way that speaks loudly on the horrors committed therein, as seen here. It doesn't help at all that the Janitor wears clothing parallel to that era, or that Six herself with her Splash of Color raincoat might be seen as a Shout-Out to a certain other little girl.
  • Down in the Dumps: At one point Six finds herself in a pit full of the cast-off shoes of the Janitor's victims. Later, in the Kitchen, she drops down a trash chute into a more conventional garbage room.
  • Driven to Suicide: Six encounters two people—or, at least, the legs of two people—who have apparently hanged themselves in the Maw, one at the beginning and one in the bedroom with the green wallpaper (where you have to climb up on the far left set of drawers to see).
  • Dumbwaiter Ride: Six finds a dumbwaiter in the sausage-maker room and must ride it up to the meat freezer above, to get more chunks.
  • Eaten Alive: When one of the Guests catches Six, they will immediately stuff her, whole, into their mouth.
  • Eating the Enemy: The Chefs will prepare you in a dish if you're caught, while Guests will just straight-up eat you. The Lady eventually gets eaten (her throat at least) by Six.
  • Empty Piles of Clothing: One of the locations Six stumbles upon in the Lair is a room full of the cast-off shoes of the Janitor's victims, which she has to wade through.
  • Ending by Ascending: The game ends with Six slowly climbing the long staircase out of the Maw, away from the player and into a bright yellow light.
  • Evil Is Bigger: Every adversary Six faces monstrously outsizes her, even relatively smaller enemies like the early-game leeches. The environments confining Six are also clearly designed on a much larger scale, giving the impression of a tiny, vulnerable child facing off against a massive, menacing world.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: Once or twice over the course of the game, you must traverse a meat freezer, and in the last area of the game, it suddenly and inexplicably gets so cold that Six's breath can be seen.
  • Evil vs. Evil: The last quarter of the game could be this, as Six defeats the Lady, but she herself has eaten an innocent Nome beforehand.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: The game begins with the Lady doing this in what seems to be a nightmare Six is having. At the very end, Six herself does this after absorbing the Lady's powers, but the lights cut out before we actually see her face.
  • Fade to Black: After Six mauls the Lady, she slowly turns around to face the player, but her new shadow powers cut the screen to black before her face can be seen.
  • A Fête Worse Than Death: The surfacing of the Maw to allow more Guests in to feed on child meat is an annual event with which Six's escape happens to coincide.
  • Final Boss: In the game's climax, you finally confront the Lady, using her last unbroken mirror against her.
  • Fire of Comfort: Whenever Six lights a lantern in a room with a Nome in it, the Nome will come and stand by the flame as if warming itself or comforted by the light.
  • Food Chain of Evil: Guests board the Maw to eat children and are then consumed by the Lady.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: The game's climax ends with Six making a Face-Revealing Turn toward the camera, her new dark powers swirling around her.
  • Good Morning, Crono: The game begins with Six waking up on a suitcase-bed deep in the Maw.
  • Good Samaritan: The unnamed prisoner who tosses Six some bread when she's having a hunger attack.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: On your way to the third area, you can spy one of the Chefs nipping out for a smoke.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: There are three achievements that rely on finding "collectibles" throughout the Maw:
    • "Light Up Your Life" can be achieved by using Six's lighter to light any thirteen of the twenty lanterns and candles scattered around. These can often be found in hidden areas or by stopping briefly in a dangerous place.
    • You get "Little Rascal" after smashing all ten of the statues (resembling the Lady) hidden in alcoves, dark corners, and secret rooms throughout the Maw.
    • "Little Lost Things" is achieved by hugging the twelve Nomes Six encounters and eating the thirteenth.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: The Chefs resort to throwing wine bottles at Six as she is making her final escape from the Kitchen.
  • Growling Gut: Six's stomach growls audibly during each of her hunger attacks.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: Six's heart often becomes audible in times of stress, such as when enemies are searching for her or during her hunger attacks.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Six becomes progressively more like the monsters she is running from, eating defenseless creatures much smaller than her. At the very end, she absorbs the Lady's sinister powers after killing her, and slowly turns toward the player much like the Lady did in her nightmare at the beginning.
  • Horror Hunger: Hunger is something of a Central Theme to the game, from the Guests' Villainous Glutton depiction and penchant for eating children to the Lady's Life Drinker powers to the crippling hunger of Six herself, which eventually compels her to eat a living rat and later a Nome. Even the structure it all takes place in is called the Maw. The game's working title was Hunger, reflecting this.
  • Impromptu Tracheotomy: Six eventually kills the Lady by biting into her exposed throat.
  • Industrialized Evil: The Maw seems to function like a business, with all the infrastructure to continue producing child-meat for its guests indefinitely.
  • Infinite Flashlight: A variation. The zippo lighter Six carries throughout the game never flickers, dies out, or runs out of fuel—even when she walks under dripping water with it.
  • In Medias Res: How did Six end up in the belly of the Maw to begin with? Was she escaping from the holding areas like the Runaway Kid, or is she working her way in to confront the Lady? We may never know, as the game begins with her waking up in a small room with no discernible entrances except the way she leaves.
  • Jabba Table Manners: The Guests are the epitome of messy eaters.
  • Kill the Lights: When you emerge from the boarded-up room with the last unbroken mirror, the lady appears in the back of the room, and then the lights suddenly go out, leaving the final battle to be fought in darkness apart from the shifting spotlights Six must retreat to.
  • Kitchen Chase: Many sequences of this in the Kitchen area, with Six running from one or both of the Twin Chefs while jumping on tables, throwing food, and generally causing havoc.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Not counting minor threats and the Twin Chefs, every villain that Six meets suffers for their actions in some way. The Janitor has his arms cut off, the Lady is defeated and eaten, and the Guests have their essence sucked out, killing them.
  • Life Energy: The Lady and later Six seem to be able to drain this from other creatures, killing them.
  • Light Is Good: Six starts the game with a lighter she can use to light lanterns and candles, providing some much-needed illumination to her surroundings. At the end of the game, after she has bested the Lady and killed all the Guests, she exits The Maw by ascending a staircase into the bright, beautiful, blinding daylight.
  • Light Is Not Good: On the other hand, there are sections of the game where you must stay out of the light cast by a moving eye fixture, lest its glare turn you to stone.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The game's working title while in development was Hunger, which was appropriate given the game's themes of gluttony and consumption and liberal use of the I'm a Humanitarian trope, as well as It also represents Six's growing hunger pains throughout the game.
    • The new name, Little Nightmares, could possibly refer to Six and the other children themselves in the eyes of the monsters, who either see them as vermin or wish to eat them. Once Six eats the Lady and gains her dark powers, she has arguably become a "little nightmare" herself as she kills all the guests when she calmly walks out of the Maw. All of the children's deaths are also treated as mere nightmares when they respawn.
  • Monstrous Humanoid: All the creatures in the game are somewhat human-like... but not quite.
    • The Chefs are a pair of obese twins with sausagey fingers and flabby, googly-eyed faces that sag like ill-fitting masks. They also make high-pitched, pig-like squeals if they see Six sneaking about.
    • The Janitor is a squat man with tiny legs, Creepily Long Arms, and a massive head with the upper half of his skin pulled down off his skull and over where his eyes would be, leaving him blind. He also sniffs the air like a bloodhound whenever he detects noise, and growls like one when disturbed. Whenever he loses track of Six, he can even be seen creepily dislocating his jaw while making odd clicking noises.
    • The Guests are horrifically-exaggerated caricatures of upper-class people, wearing formal attire over their grossly fat, squishy bodies. Their faces are equally hideous — some have flabby jowls, others have puffed-out hamster cheeks, and some even look like a blobfish with ears.
    • A creature seen only in costume form at Gamescom 2016 appears to be some sort of bellhop wearing a red uniform and sporting a grotesque, melty-looking face.
    • The Lady, despite her comparatively human-like appearance, qualifies. She's particularly notable in that while everything else in the game will physically accost you, she's the only one who appears to have actual supernatural abilities, including being able to lift you off your feet without laying a hand on you.
  • Mood Whiplash: There are several points in the game where Six begins experiencing hunger pains, and the meal she has to eat to fix this seems to get worse every time. As soon as she's done, though, everything goes back to normal and a relatively cheery song starts playing.
  • Motif: Several are featured which receive some more context in the sequel.
    • Hunger is the primary theme, with the Lady's operation preying on greedy Guests and Six being plagued by debilitating hunger attacks. With both, the idea of hunger leading to cruelty is explored.
    • Eyes and eye shapes appear everywhere in the architecture, with some being machines that can petrify things in their view. The sequel sheds a little light on them: They're representations of the eyes of the true Signal Tower, a fleshy mass disguised as a building that sends out a corruptive broadcast implied to have warped all of the creatures in the games.
    • Masked characters are heavily featured, with the Twin Chefs' faces being fake and covering up something underneath, and the Lady and her Guests wearing more obvious masks. The sequel seems to clarify that the Janitor's peeling skin is also a mask (as his face is seen in a group of skin masks), and that masks are in demand for those warped and disfigured by the Transmission.
  • No Antagonist: The first chapter doesn't contain an arc villain unlike the following.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: A friendly Nome, seeing that Six is desperately hungry, offers her a sausage and gets eaten for its trouble.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: At the very end of the game, Six gets another one of her hunger attacks, and there is nothing in sight to eat but the Lady. The Nome she eats might also count as cannibalism, given it was formerly human.
  • No OSHA Compliance: This is more or less exemplified when, at the end of the chase in the Guest Area, one of the Guests chasing you falls over a too-short railing, presumably to their death.
  • Notice This: The game uses lighting to this effect, often placing important objects for navigation or puzzles in brighter light with a subtle kind of spotlight effect.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The shoe pit has an unseen monster digging its way through all the shoes (and luggage) dropped there while smoke or dust trails behind it.
  • Offscreen Start Bonus: There are often secrets—rooms, lanterns, statues—to be found just to the left of respawn points.
    • In the room Six finds herself in after getting caged by the Janitor, there's a gap in the left-hand wall she can squeeze through and a lantern on the other side.
    • At the start of the intermediate sequence between the Kitchen and the Guest Area, when Six drops down onto a large pipe, she can go left and crawl through a crack in the wall to find a secret room with a Nome and a lantern.
  • Only Six Faces: The masses of Guests use a handful of repeating identical character designs as an economic development choice. However, with the hints in the sequel that, in addition to the Twin Chefs, the Guests and Janitor are wearing skin masks to disguise themselves, the identical Guests may have a Watsonian explanation as customers who ordered from a limited set of designs that fit all of them.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: The darkened tunnels of The Maw have a consistent, dulled, dark blue color to them, which ultimately contrasts against the shots of the surface, where the sky is colored orange/yellow.
  • The Outside World: The whole game is spent trying to get there. Six eventually does, but we don't get to see much of it.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Six starts out innocent (as far as we know), but as the game progresses, she starts committing more and more ... morally questionable acts. These include severing the Janitor's arms, eating a trapped rat, eating a friendly Nome, eating the Lady, and finally killing all of the guests. At best, she comes out morally ambiguous. At worst, with the powers she acquires at the end...
  • Raincoat of Horror: Six wears a bright yellow raincoat which she never removes.
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: Six gets so hungry to a point that she eats a rat that had been caught in a trap.
  • Run or Die: The Lair, the Kitchen, and the Guest Area all culminate in chase sequences where you can no longer hide from the monsters and have to run for your life.
  • Shout-Out: The Janitor being named Roger may be a reference to Lost, as Roger Linus is a workman, or a janitor.
  • Sickening Slaughterhouse: The Kitchen has elements of this. You have to perform various distasteful tasks with meat, such as manufacturing sausage to swing from and turning on a meat grinder to distract a chef. Compounded by the knowledge that much of this is human meat.
  • Sinister Scraping Sound: The first glimpse we get of the Janitor is as he's dragging a cage across a catwalk, making an absolutely ungodly scraping noise.
  • Sinister Silhouettes:
    • While Six is ascending into the Kitchen on a meat hook, one of the twins can be seen in the background, standing on a balcony and smoking, his face shadowed.
    • The Lady is first seen on a balcony at the start of the Guest Area, with a bright light behind her.
  • Spooky Silent Library: Several areas in the Lair are book-filled rooms where you can't make a sound for fear of alerting the Janitor to your presence.
  • Steam Vent Obstacle: Six has to avoid a jet of steam coming from a pipe in the floor while pulling a laundry cart. Touching it will kill her instantly.
  • Stalker Shrine: There appears to be a very low-key shrine to the Lady in one of the secret rooms, complete with candles and portraits.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: When Six's second hunger pang hits, the only thing to eat is a lump of meat in an obvious trap. Needless to say, eating it is the only way to progress.
  • Symbolic Mutilation: You eventually defeat the Janitor by cutting off the Creepily Long Arms he has been using to capture children.
  • Taken for Granite: The eye-shaped searchlights Six has to sneak past seem to turn you to stone if you get caught in them. The statues of various children who have met this fate can be seen scattered around this area.
  • Tick Tock Terror: One area of the lair houses dozens of grandfather clocks, seemingly collected by the Janitor. When six pushes open the door to this area, a whole row of them topple over, making a jarring cacophony and immediately alerting the Janitor to her presence. If she hides off to the side long enough, the clocks will all chime at the same time, temporarily deafening the Janitor and allowing her to escape down the hall.
  • Throwing the Distraction: This comes into play in the Lair, as the Janitor is blind and hunts primarily with his sense of hearing. As such, in the library, where you climb across bookshelves in the middle of the room. some objects are provided to throw down and divert the Janitor.
  • To Serve Man: The Maw's purpose seems to be to capture, prepare, and serve children to the monstrous Guests who visit it. While they can also be seen eating fish and what looks like animal meat, they clearly prefer human children, as evidenced by their glee whenever Six gets close enough for one of them to grab her and stuff her in their mouth. According to supplementary materials, when the Guests eat themselves to death, they end up prepared and served as well.
  • Troubled Fetal Position: Justifiably, Six tends to wake up this way.
  • Unflinching Walk: Six's final, determined walk out of the Maw, unbothered by the popping lightbulbs and dying Guests all around her. Overlaps with Ominous Walk from the point of view of the Guests—she no longer needs to run from them and can kill them at her leisure.
  • Vampiric Draining: The Lady kills people by draining their Life Energy. It's implied by her obsession with remaining beautiful that she's some sort of Life Drinker.
  • Weakened by the Light: It's not perfectly clear whether the Lady is defeated by the mirror itself or the light reflecting off the mirror, but the fact that you only get to hurt her while standing in a spotlight and that the shadow children in her dark Residence in the DLC are destroyed by light suggests that light reacts against her black magic and hurts her.
  • Wham Shot:
    • When Six eats the Nome that was offering her food. Emphasized by very dramatic music.
    • When Six begins walking, very slowly, toward a number of Guests who are eating. The only thing that's saved her up to this point is her being faster and more nimble than them, but as she approaches each one, her new powers begin to suck their essence from them, killing them as she passes.
  • Wormsign: The telltale signs that the shoe burrower is on its way are the jostling of shoes and some form of dust or exhaust shifting around its form.
  • Wutai: In accord with the presiding Lady's Japanese theming, the Guest Area is styled with Japanese architecture and design. This serves as a likely tie to the cited Studio Ghibli influences, particularly, Spirited Away, which also features a wicked sorceress and horror derived from hunger.

    Secrets of the Maw DLC 
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Justified, as the Depths don't seem to have been constructed with the purpose of being a sewer—just the lower levels of the Maw which have been flooded by poor drainage.
  • Achievement Mockery:
    • The achievement for finishing the first chapter (and being immediately snatched by the Janitor) is called "So Close", and its description reads, "You'll do better next time."
    • In the second chapter, there is a little wooden Nome statue on the Janitor's workbench. If you steal it and successfully carry it through the rest of the level to throw it in the furnace, you get the secret achievement "Ashes in the Maw", whose description reads, "Are you proud of yourself?" as if to mock the player for wasting time on such a thoroughly pointless task.
  • Baleful Polymorph: At the end of "The Residence", the boy is captured by the Lady and turned into a Nome. He loses his flashlight and ability to jump and can only wander sadly around the Maw until he ends up in the room with the sausage.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: The unnamed escapee the Kid is following lowers one out of the Prison window—the same one Six will later climb up.
  • Big Fancy House: While not technically an independent structure, the Residence has the internal appearance of a vast mansion. Overlaps in atmosphere with Old, Dark House.
  • Blackout Basement: Some locations are too dark to see in without the flashlight. The most extreme example is the coal room in the Hideaway chapter, which is pitch black. Leave your flashlight off and you'll run straight into the Janitor.
  • Bloody Handprint: Crossed with Symbolic Blood. The boy comes across the unnamed escapee's flashlight, next to a dark smear on the floor and several dark handprints on the edges of the hole she must have been dragged through by the leeches.
  • Booby Trap: Each statue in the Residence is guarded by one.
  • Bookcase Passage: In the second floor library room in the Residence, one can be opened by replacing the books with patterned spines that are on the floor. Another, leading to a secret room, can be unlocked by bringing the other book (which has half of a white mask on its spine) to the farthest left room on the ground floor and putting it back on the shelf with its twin.
  • Cacophony Cover Up: In the Janitor's workshop, you have to activate his screeching table saw to cover the noise of opening your escape hatch.
  • Canon Character All Along: In the end of the DLC, it turns out that the Runaway Kid was (or would become) the Nome which Six eats outside the Guest area all along.
  • Catapult Nightmare: How the boy begins the game in the nursery.
  • Cliffhanger:
    • The ending for "The Depths". The boy is ultimately caught and caged by the Janitor. Six sees him as the Janitor pulls his cage away.
    • The ending for "The Hideaway". After navigating through the engine room with help from the Nomes, he ends up on the roof of a moving elevator. The Lady is revealed to be the passenger, and she looks up as though aware of the boy on the top...
  • Creepy Doll: In one of the Janitor's rooms, you have to climb onto a box full of baby doll parts.
  • Darkness Equals Death:
    • The deadly depths of the Maw where the first chapter occurs are dim-to-dark, often requiring the boy to turn on his flashlight just to see in front of him.
    • The first encounter with the Janitor in chapter 2 occurs in a pitch-black room.
    • The most dangerous part of the Residence chapter begins after the power goes out, allowing the Living Shadow creatures to come out and attack the player.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Chapter 2, "The Hideaway", is this for the Nomes, expanding on their role in the Maw.
  • Delicious Distraction: At one point in the Depths level, the boy finds himself on a platform above the water where fish chunks are dropped down out of a spout. Progressing requires throwing one of the chunks off the side to distract the Granny while escaping in the other direction.
  • Demonic Possession: The shadow children in the Residence kill the boy by seemingly "diving into" his body, which lifts up off the ground.
  • Descending Ceiling: One of the statue rooms on the second floor of the Residence is equipped with one.
  • Devoured by the Horde: What happens when a clump of leeches catches up to you.
  • Downer Ending: In the end, the runaway boy is captured by the Lady and turned into a Nome. Any hope of survival the audience has for him goes out the window when it's implied that he's the very Nome that Six eats after the Guest Area chapter.
  • Downloadable Content: The three chapters were published separately as this.
  • Down the Drain: The first chapter, "The Depths", takes place primarily in the abandoned, flooded depths of the Maw, which the boy reaches by jumping down a drain in the floor.
  • Dramatic Unmask: Near the of "The Residence", the boy stumbles upon the Lady looking in a mirror without her omnipresent mask, revealing that her reflection is as ugly and flabby as every other non-child resident of the Maw.
  • Dumbwaiter Ride: The boy finds a coal dumbwaiter in the Hideaway which he rides up to the room above and uses to retrieve a few Nomes.
  • Eaten Alive:
    • The presumable fate of the unnamed escapee: she seems to have been caught by the leeches.
    • The last chapter of the DLC reveals that the Lady turns the boy into the very Nome that will offer Six a sausage and be eaten by her.
  • Electrified Bathtub: One of the puzzles in the Depths requires navigating a pool of water with an exposed wire in it; touching the water will immediately electrify and kill the Runaway Kid. In the end of the chapter, you must weaponize this against the Granny by turning on the power and then pushing a TV into the water, frying her.
  • Ending by Ascending:
    • Chapter 1 ends with the boy climbing a long staircase followed by a ladder out of the Depths.
    • The climax of Chapter 2 is him riding up out of the Hideaway on a coal lift.
  • Evil Is Bigger: Just like Six, the boy faces Maw residents that clearly outsize him. Averted for the shadow creatures in the Residence, who are the boy's size.
  • Evil Is Not Well-Lit: The Residence, where the evil Lady lives, is the darkest chapter; there are several times when the boy is left in complete darkness as all the lights go out.
  • Fire of Comfort: Near the end of "The Hideaway", the Runaway Kid comes across a little room with a smaller, calmer furnace in it, where various Nomes have gathered to relax in the firelight. He can't stay long, though.
  • Foreboding Fleeing Flock: Downplayed. The Depths of the Maw are so deadly, not even the Nomes will venture into them.
  • Foreshadowing: In the Residence chapter, the face of one of the shadow children who will eventually pursue you can be seen ducking behind some books when you first enter the second-floor library.
  • Good Morning, Crono: "The Depths" begins with the Runaway Kid waking from a nightmare in his bed in the Prison.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: There are "flotsam" collectibles hidden throughout the DLC. Finding all the bottles earns you an achievement in each chapter.
  • Haunted House: The Residence has all the trapping of one, from locked rooms and Booby Traps to ominous grandfather clocks and giggling shadow children.
  • Hazardous Water: In the Depths chapter, you learn very quickly to be wary of flooded rooms—and, when it can't be avoided, to get out of the water as quickly as possible.
  • He Knows Too Much: It's possible the Lady has this reaction to the boy seeing her without her mask. Then again, she probably would have killed (or transmogrified) him regardless.
  • The Hero Dies: After being turned into a Nome, the little boy goes down near the dining area where a sausage lies on the floor. Even before he comes to this area, everyone knows what his final fate is.
  • Infinite Flashlight: The flashlight the boy inherits from the unnamed escapee never flickers or goes out, even after repeatedly being submerged in water.
  • Interrupted Suicide: At the end of the Hideaway level, the boy rides up out of the furnace room on a coal lift and must jump off the cart before it is dumped into another higher furnace. Sometimes, a Nome will follow him up on the next cart and fall into the inferno apathetically, but the player can save it by jumping onto its platform, picking it up, and jumping off in time.
  • Kidnapped from Behind: After the boy emerges from the Depths, the Janitor's long arms reach out of the darkness behind him and grab him.
  • Kill the Lights: After you place the penultimate statue on its pedestal in the Residence, the lights flicker dramatically, and when you emerge from the room the lights throughout the mansion have been extinguished, allowing the shadow creatures to emerge.
  • Living Shadow: The enemies in the final chapter consists of shadows with masks; their weakness is the flashlight.
  • Lock and Key Puzzle:
    • In "The Hideaway" you have to collect a sufficient number of Nomes from the rooms around you to feed the furnace enough coal that the secondary lift begins to rise, carrying you out.
    • "The Residence" involves finding a series of statues (not unlike the collectibles in the main game) and placing them on pedestals to finally gain access to the chapter's final location.
  • Magnetic Hero: "The Hideaway" features this as an essential gameplay mechanic: completing the chapter requires hugging all the Nomes you find and getting them to follow you around.
  • Message in a Bottle: The "flotsam" Easter Eggs you can collect in each chapter take the form of bottles the boy can uncork and pull scraps of paper out of. He'll examine the paper before stuffing it into his clothes, but the exact nature of the messages goes unexplored.
  • Never Found the Body: The escapee the boy is following disappears suddenly while in the Depths, leaving only her flashlight. It's heavily implied she was killed by leeches, or... during the second DLC, if you aim your flashlight at a certain Nome, the shadow it casts looks suspiciously like the girl.
  • No Escape but Down: In the first chapter, the boy ends up in a room where the only way forward is jumping into the drainage shaft that will dump him all the way down in the depths of the Maw.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Beyond her hands and a few air bubbles, the Granny is virtually unseen throughout the first half of her level.
  • Out of the Frying Pan: The boy escapes from the depths only to be immediately caught by the Janitor.
  • Production Foreshadowing: The portraits in the Residence are composed of images from concept art for the original game, with three notable new faces in the mix. They would turn out to be the Teacher, the Doctor, and the scrapped character of the Barber from the sequel.
  • Replaced with Replica: The wooden replica statue in the Residence won't do you any good in the pedestal room, but you can replace the real one with it on the second floor to halt the ceiling-crush mechanism that removing it activates.
  • The Reveal: Two big ones, which the first two chapters heavily hint at: some of the Nomes are transformed children, and the Lady has an ugly reflection beneath the mask. On another note, the Runaway Kid is the Nome that tried to offer Six food.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: The shadow children faced in the final chapter will disintegrate if you point your flashlight at them long enough.
  • Sequel Hook: While the Runaway Kid's story has certainly ended in tragedy, The Stinger shows a TV flickering to life somewhere, with a mysterious figure briefly appearing on the screen... The achievement received for completing the DLC is even called "We'll Meet Again."
  • The Shadow Knows: The Nomes cast shadows of human children.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: After the Lady turns him into a Nome, the boy's clothes and ankle shackle can be seeing lying on the floor beneath his feet. Oddly, his flashlight is nowhere to be seen.
  • Shout-Out: In the second half of the DLC, you will find a large group of Nomes feeding coal to the furnace that powers The Maw, much like the dust sprites doing the same for the Bathhouse's boiler in Spirited Away.
  • Simultaneous Arcs: The DLC takes place during Six's escape from the Maw, with the chapter select screen showing you where the boy is in comparison to Six. During most of the Kid's journey, the Janitor is still alive and active because Six hasn't gotten through the Lair, and at the end of the first chapter, the Kid ends up in the cage the Janitor drags away before Six breaks out of her own cage. The second chapter has a viewing machine that shows a view of Six wading through the Shoe Burrower's room. At the end of the third chapter, the Runaway Kid has been turned into a Nome, and ends up in the room with the sausage in the Guest Area, where he will soon be eaten by Six.
  • Spooky Silent Library: The dark, silent Residence is overflowing with books.
  • Starter Villain: Like in the main game, the boy encounters the leeches before any of the main enemies.
  • Stealth-Based Game: The first two chapters are this, requiring you to flee from the Granny and evade the Janitor, but the Residence introduces some simple combat for the first time, allowing you to disintegrate the shadow children with your flashlight.
  • Stock Video Game Puzzle:
    • Stepping Stone Puzzle: Several rooms in the Depths require you to position blocks or suitcases in the water so they can be jumped across.
    • Water Level Puzzle: Frequently used in the Depths. Quite a few areas feature a switch or lever allowing you to drain or flood rooms.
  • Taken for Granite: The boy has to sneak past the same petrifying security eyes Six evades in the Prison, and later he encounters another one guarding one of the Lady's statues.
  • Take Up My Sword: After descending into the titular depths, the boy comes across the flashlight used by the girl escaping ahead of him, still turned on, next to a dark smear that seems to imply she has been killed by leeches. He takes up her flashlight and uses it to proceed in her stead.
  • Taking You with Me: If you don't push the TV off the platform in time, the Granny will just tear down the platform, electrocuting herself along with you.
  • Team Spirit: Completing the Hideaway chapter requires collaborating with the Nomes.
  • Tick Tock Terror:
    • Partway through the Residence chapter, the grandfather clock on the second floor will chime loudly out of nowhere. It's quite startling after the near-complete silence the level occurs in.
    • Inverted: The clock chimes again as a welcome signal that you have defeated all the shadow children in the room with the book stacks.
  • Transformation Discretion Shot: "The Residence" ends with the Runaway Kid being caught by the Lady and transformed into a Nome - between cuts. One shot, the Kid is hovering in the air as the Lady works her magic on him; then we cut to black, and gradually fade in on a Nome sitting in the Runaway Kid's vacant clothing.
  • Troubled Fetal Position: Seems to be a running theme with the good characters.
  • Villains Out Shopping: The Janitor is encountered working in his private tool-shop in "The Hideaway."
  • Weakened by the Light: The shadow children must be defeated by pointing the flashlight at them. They will cover their eyes and try to get out of the beam, but if you keep them in it long enough they will collapse into dust.
  • Weaponized Offspring: Implied with the shadow children, who seem to be extensions of the Lady's powers and will try to attack the boy.
  • Weight and Switch: Crossed with Replaced with Replica. To retrieve the final statue in the Residence chapter, you need to obtain its wooden replica and swap it out with the real thing before the ceiling descends on you.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Toward the end of the second chapter, you enter a room where several Nomes are huddled up around a burning stove. The Nomes' shadows look just like those of human children.
    • At the end of "The Residence", the kid, transformed into a Nome, finds his way to the little room with a sausage in the center of it, right outside the Guest level. And Six is surely on her way.
  • Wormsign: You can tell where the Granny is by the tell-tale air bubbles rising to the surface.

    The Tie-in Comics 
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: All of the hunchbacked child's friends wanted to be different; one wanted to be stronger, one wanted to be taller, and one wanted to have a friend who'd always be by their side. The mirrors changed them so they could get what they wanted, but in the process, they became easy targets for the Hanged Man: the strong boy was bigger and therefore easier to grab, the tall boy couldn't fit through the opening that they all came in through, and the child who was doubled literally lost half of themself when the Hanged Man ripped away their "friend".
  • Campfire Character Exploration: The premise of the comics; several children loose in the Maw, including Six, gather around a fire and talk about how they got there.
  • Downer Ending: All of the children's stories end this way, with the respective child being captured by the Ferryman.
  • Earth All Along: Implied. In the hunchback kid's story, we see him being dared to enter an alleged haunted house, one of them scoffing that there is no such thing as monsters. This implies that this world was far less horrifying until... something happened, leaving the world populated with defenseless children and Monstrous Humanoids.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The North Wind, a mysterious entity that takes the children of a village, and appears to be engaged in a game with the Maw, competing about who can get the most children.
  • Fire of Comfort: Subverted; the kids stay around the campfire because it helps keep away the leeches, but not even the fire prevents a leech from showing up and devouring one of them.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Multiple of the monstrous creatures are somewhat human-like, including the Mirror Monster and the Ferryman. But all of them have traits that make it disturbing clear they are not human, the Mirror Monster's head being made of tentacles and the Ferryman's abnormally large nose.
  • Magic Mirror: The haunted house's mirrors of the second comic; like funhouse mirrors, looking into them shows each of the children as distorted in some way, looking like their ideal self (one as a strongman, one as unnaturally tall, and another as being two people, aka having a friend). Then, they turn into their mirror selves. Touching the mirror turns you back, unfortunately for the hunchbacked child, since the mirror she looked into was broken and presumably couldn't be touched.
  • Mirror Monster: The villain of the second comic, who evidently looks like the Hanged Man from the game; he uses tentacles coming out of his collar to drag children into his mirror.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The hunchbacked child is transformed at the end of her story when she looks into a broken mirror. We never see the result, as she's constantly wearing a cloak and one of her friends covers her with a blanket upon her transformation.


Video Example(s):


The Lady

Lives in near darkness, presumably because her powers are hostile to electric lights, as seen when Six walks them out of the Maw.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / EvilIsNotWellLit

Media sources: