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    GaryDoesThings's Little Nightmares (PS4)

    [August 28, 2018 08:37:18 PM]
    While the last areas of the game give more insight to the context and location of these events, the game staunchly refains from making many firm declarations.

    The onboarding of guests to the behemoth the game takes place in, and the grotesque scenes of their feasting answered my previous question about who was eating all the food the cooks were preparing. My eventual failure to avoid one of these voracious guests also more firmly placed them as an objective threat, in that he ate me. This placed the player character more definitively in a survival and self-defense position in my mind.

    Conversely, in one of the more uneasing scenes of the game, the player character feeds on a gnome even though that very same gnome offers out a more than ample sausage. I felt vindicated in my earlier suspicions of the player character and their supposed implicit righteousness.

    It would seem that the events of the end, where the player character feeds on the shadow woman, that the player character is simply a monster. Exacerbated by the fact that when imbued with the shadow woman's power, it proceeds to directly kill several guests during the final scene. However, it could be argued that the compromises the player character had to make to reach this point somehow intoxicated it with some form of evil, culminating in its absorption of the shadow woman's darkness. The player character becomes infected, and is so overtaken.

    Trying to work from this perspective, I focus on the game's persistent theme of food, consumption, and eating. Eating is a necessary facet of life as we know it; nothing that abstains from food or water survives for very long. More often than not, one living organism must consume another living organism, whether plant or animal. In the same way, each time something is consumed in the game, something else loses. The figure in the beginning that gives up its plate is the most mild example. But the player character continues to escalate its apetite, going from necessity to a sort of preference. The action of the game ramps up as food becomes more present. From the complete lack of food in the beginning to piles of it later.

    While the game flirts with elements of imprisonment, torture, and despair, it seems to me that the game places the ethical question of consumption at its center and posits an escalating extreme. The player character is starving, and another person willingly gives up food for it; I thought it was tragic but sweet. The player is trapped by the long-armed enemy using food as a lure; a threat that takes advantage of this base need. The player character eats a rat caught in a trap; it is gross, but can be understood given dire circumstances. The player character feeds on the gnome despite easily accessible food; this crosses the line from survival to corruption. The player character feeds on the woman; this is wholesale voraciousness. Eating becomes less about survival as it does about dominance.
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    [August 27, 2018 03:14:59 PM]
    The fact that I, as the player, do not know the context in which the events of the game take place, there is an odd feeling that I am only spectating despite having direct control of a character. The sensation is much like entering a circle of people who are in the middle of a conversation where one of them is relaying an experience. They are at the point where pronouns replace proper names, the location is implied, and the most pertinent bits are coming to light. You can't really participate, so only listening is possible and you are keenly aware that the image you're developing in your mind is not likely to be accurate. You can only react as events transpire and the base quality of the action is relayed. Others in the conversation may "ooo" or "ahh" while you are left unaffected, being oblivious to some contextual plot twist. As I traversed through the kitchen level of the game, this feeling grew. Who is eating all this meat? Why are these creatures masquerading as mundane cooks? I still don't know where this is, maybe some kind of boat.

    It was this awareness and the fact that we left off in class about bad arguments, which many are rooted in some kind of ignorance or assumption of fact, to question what I assumed about the game. I think the base assumption most players make when starting a single-player game is that their player is the hero, the protagonist, the force for positive change, perhaps the most righteous. In this game, I continually find myself wondering if the little raincoat-clad character deserves that distinction. Sure, its design is charming and the gruesome creatures that lurk in these environments are repulsive and seem intent on detaining the character, but the only real redeeming quality I've yet seen is that it will hug the little gnomes. However, while the gnomes are charming in their own way as well, I have no real reason to believe that they are a positive force, or that hugging them suggests a righteous intent.

    Also, while being captured the large creatures results in a checkpoint reset for the player, it is curious that the enemies only capture the player character and do not invoke any real violence. But the player character cuts off the arms of the long-armed enemy and feeds on an injured but live rat. Coupling these with the self-centric behavior I noted in the first log, it paints an image of the player character that is not entirely flattering. These can certainly be explained as the necessities for survival, sure, but that assumes that being captured by the large creatures is in fact a terrible fate, and that the player character's goal is escape or prevailing over the evil.

    The level was to some extent less intense than the long-armed enemy level so it was a bit easier to think about these things. Games like this rely a lot on the faith of the player to fill in the gaps of reasoning and to intertwine the object of their control with moral justification. But so far, I've only been witness to a series of events in a vacuum of context. So I remain suspicious.
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    [August 26, 2018 10:42:03 PM]
    "Little Nightmares" does little to inform the player of the context of the action taking place. The game simply started with a short cutscene of a woman then gameplay began. The forboding atmosphere of the game and the excessively diminuitive player character made apparent to me that this game takes place in a location entirely hostile and foreign to the character. Thusly, the nature of the game has a distinct flavor of a survival story.

    The first level of the game was primarily about self preservation, in avoiding the black slugs and navigating the perilous spaces. Though there is a particular sweet moment when a small figure like the player character is eating in a cafeteria area. At this moment the player character appeared to be starving. The background character took notice and tossed its meal through the bars for the player character to eat. The environment and the presence of other small figures in varying states of confinement or pertrification leads to the assumption that they are victims of some malevolence. With that fact, and being that this was the first time I had seen food in the game, it struck me as particularly selfless that this character, a victim just as my player character, would offer me food that is this scarce. At that moment I had wished for some function to thank the figure, but the game did not appear to enable this behavior, which I thought was a shame. It seemed wrong to accept something so valuable without gratitude.

    Later, the player character is trapped in a cage by the long-armed enemy and stored in a room with other little figures who are also in cages. The player character is able to break out from its cage. Though, as a particularly sad eventuality, the player must use one of the other cages which houses a figure to pull a lever to exit the room.

    Between this and the earlier experience of taking the food without some gratitude, I felt that my player character lacked some compassion and had a self-centric mode of operation. As the first chapter of "The Elements of Moral Philosophy" mentioned, perhaps there is a "we should save as many as we can" perspective. Perhaps the other little figures are already lost in some manner. The ones in the cages could be on the verge of death, and the one the cafeteria may have had some awareness of its impending unavoidable end and chose to offer its only resource for the benefit of the player character who appears to be chasing some goal. Perhaps the player character is also aware of this fact. Though I am also viewing the game from a perspective that the player character's intent is escape. It could just as easily be that the player character is going to attempt to solve the larger problem and perhaps save all the others or at least stop the suffering. The game just doesn't offer that much insight so far.
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    GaryDoesThings's Little Nightmares (PS4)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Wednesday 22 August, 2018

    GameLog closed on: Sunday 23 September, 2018

    GaryDoesThings's opinion and rating for this game

    No comment, yet.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

    Related Links

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    See info on Little Nightmares

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