DLC Review: Secrets of the Maw
This title is DLC for Little Nightmares
The original release of Little Nightmares gave players a tantalizing look at The Maw, a sort of grim pleasure cruiser of titanic proportions for some absolutely unspeakable beings. Plenty of questions were left unanswered by that harrowing journey, and Secrets of the Maw seeks to address some of the concurrent ones to the plot and setting, rather than push past the ending. It’s content that promises more of what you enjoyed about the base game, with some new revelations and even a few surprises. While it might hew a bit too close to the original in terms of gameplay, it features a fantastic side story that acts as a fine companion piece to an already solid adventure.
While the rain-coatted Six is off mantling about the Maw, the enigmatic Kid rouses from their slumber and sets about escaping the certain doom of captivity. This journey is cleanly split into three episodes, which intersect with the exploits of Six at points. The first, The Depths, is perhaps the most unique in its setting from the base game. Scampering about in refuse piles and contending with pipes and cisterns of filthy water, the Kid will also a new threat not seen anywhere else in the Maw. This thing is particularly chilling in its appearance and mechanics, making some of the platforming sequences all the more terrifying and the eventual resolution all the more satisfying. All told, it’s a strong start for the DLC that captures what’s good about Little Nightmares with some new twists.
In contrast, the second episode, The Hideaway, returns the Kid to some well-trod sections of the Maw. Several foes from the base game also make an appearance, posing similar challenges to the Kid as the ones you surely faced during Six’s journey. It’s not a huge disappointment, as they’re still quite effective monsters, but after escaping a wholly new threat in The Depths it’s a bit of a let down. What is new here, though, are some puzzle mechanics involving the adorable cone-hatted Nomes that require more exploration and planning than ever before. There’s also an interesting hub structure to the back half of this episode, which has you combing wings of an industrial section of the ship for more of your new Nome buddies.
The journey ends in The Residence, a return to the final areas of the original game and a meeting with the Maw’s enigmatic ruler. At first I feared some of the tension in this episode being sapped by the ending of the original, but there are more than enough threats, portends, and revelations here to provide all the tension you could want. Unlike most linear areas in Little Nightmares and previous DLC, The Residence is mostly open for you to explore and comb for clues and puzzles. It changes as you make progress towards your goal, as well, which only adds to the mounting dread. This is also the only chapter with significant challenges, as some of the foes that come after you can be a little tricky to manage with the tools you have.
The culmination of this side story is a one-two punch of revelations and emotions. You’ll learn the secret behind one of the Maw’s most persistent mysteries, and then witness that lead into a total gut-punch of an ending. It’s a fantastic tie-in to the original story and gives both tales so much more weight and meaning, but be prepared for the onset of intense feels. All told the story of Secrets of the Maw is just as solid as that of Little Nightmares, with a similar degree of drama and twists that keep you on your toes. The fact that they connect so well in the end only cements this outing as a must-have for fans of the original. It’s very much more of what you liked before, just given some new dimensions and meanings that are sure to be appreciated.