Hot on the heels of Little Nightmares came the first of three DLC expansions, ‘The Depths’. Part one focuses on a young faceless boy (the so-called Runaway Kid) as he attempts to escape his horrifying fate upon the Maw. What follows below are my thoughts on the expansion and these may include spoilers.
The Runaway Kid finds himself below the bustling working kitchens of the Maw where we played as Six and in the sewers underneath. Accompanied only by ‘Granny’ a demonic hag desperate to drag him to a watery grave The Runaway Kid is alone and must use his wits to survive.
An interesting insight to life on the Maw before Six’s arrival The Runaway Kid awakens after a horrifying nightmare of himself being pulled into the water by an unseen foe. Leaving his bed he witnesses the attempted escape of a fellow orphan followed hot on the heels by the feared Janitor. Following her reveals that she met a grisly end as her torch is the only thing left in a room she entered moments before your character did. The Boy, now truly lost and alone without his unaware leader falls into depths of the ship, where the DLC truly begins.
For a DLC the tension is extremely strong, even smaller enemies such as the leeches feel a hard foe to overcome as the Runaway Kid feels unprepared to deal with them. Gaming mechanics stay true to the main game with iffy controls sometimes leading to missed jumps and avoidable deaths, but the puzzles and mysteries remain intriguing and stimulating. Beautiful blue and grey tones emphasise the isolation of the boy and although at first the area feels devoid of enemies, something shifting underneath the murky water hints that the Runaway Kid isn’t alone down here. Just like the later sections of INSIDE going into the water is a dangerous yet necessary task. Staying in the water for an extended period will result in ‘Granny’ plucking the boy from the surface to drown him. With most of the game being spent in water, this aspect becomes increasingly daunting and instills real and hesitance in the player.
These intense chase scenes are timed perfectly so that the Runaway Kid will clamber onto dry land or a floating object just as Granny’s fingers reach up to grab him. Stage design in The Depths means that the Runaway Kid can rest for a moment on the scatterings of floating furniture but he’s never truly safe as Granny will knock him off if he lingers too long. Towards the end of the DLC Granny becomes more and more aggressive and will tear down planks and walkways meaning that The Kid will have to spend more and more time in the water to progress. Eventually, by utilising the environment The Runaway Kid manages to outwit Granny and makes his way up a ladder back towards the Maw where a more familiar horror awaits him.
This was a fantastic first of three DLC’s and shone more light on the sinister nature of the Maw. I especially liked how truly terrifying Granny was, and as a player, I was genuinely scared of dipping even a toe into the water. A bit more story to reveal the secrets of the main game would have been a nice touch but with two DLC expansions left, it’s quite possible that we will find out more going forward.