After months of worrying about the fate of the Runaway kid we’re finally reunited with our messy-haired protagonist in second DLC from Secrets of the Maw: The Hideaway.
Having battled off Granny in the previous DLC the Runaway Kid was eventually caught by the Janitor and the opening scenes of The Hideaway are focused on regaining your freedom. Falling out of the frying pan (almost literally) and into the fiery engine room of the Maw, the Runaway kid finds that down here he is once again not alone.
The Hideaway is less linear than other parts of the game and the two routes that lead to the finale can be taken in any order. Instead of relying on jump scares and frightening new monsters the hour-long DLC is filled with complicated puzzles and touching moments spent with the Nomes. In fact, the Hideaway’s standout feature is an insightful new view into the lives of the Nomes on the Maw; the innocent bystanders who (perhaps unknowingly) power this evil ship. Six’s interactions with the Nomes during the main game were infrequent and so up until now their lives have been a mystery. And understanding their role on the Maw may be the key to The Runaway Kids escape.
Down in the heart of the ship these innocent creatures act as companions to The Runaway Kid, aiding him in with puzzles and contraptions which mutually benefit both the Kid, and the Nomes. The Hideaway manages to incorporate more challenging puzzles this way by utilising the Nomes and adding a cooperative element to the game. Working as a team alongside the Nomes adds a heartfelt feel to Little Nightmares, a game which has been consistently unsettling and eerie up until this point. It becomes very clear very quickly that The Hideaway’s aim is for the player to get a better understanding of the Nomes and their unfortunate existence upon the Maw.
Unfortunately, there are still dangers in The Hideaway. The Janitor lurks in dark rooms with keen hearing and long, searching arms. His presence alone is unsettling even though by now we are familiar with his tactics and his weaknesses which shows how effective his creepy design is even months later. Sound design is once more used very effectively in this second DLC drop, making the rare appearances of the Janitor feel more eerie and frightening. The soundtrack throughout most of the game focuses more on soft repetitive lulls or the rhythmic beat of a drum so musical moments which explode with intensity along with eerie game content often had me jumping out of my seat in fear.
In terms of negatives the Nomes are a bit glitchy in some sections of the game (getting themselves into positions that mean you can’t pick them up) so occasionally you may need to reload your file. This DLC is also slightly shorter than its predecessor ‘The Depths’ and I was a little sad that it ended as soon as it did.
Overall the new dynamic of cooperative puzzle solving is something that slots nicely into the gameplay of Little Nightmares. The hour-long DLC explores the lives and origins of the Nomes whilst still incorporating the eerie and unsettling feel of the Little Nightmares game. With only one DLC drop left and the ending of The Hideaway hinting at its location and antagonist, The Secrets of the Maw Expansion is setting up for one epic finale.