As you play Little Nightmares, you'll no doubt find yourself entranced by the game's colorful yet grimy visuals and the varied environments you'll explore aboard the Maw. After reaching the credits, however, many players find themselves perplexed. Little Nightmares is a story rife with symbolism that may require multiple playthroughs to decipher—unless, that is, you follow our guide to unpacking the game's enigmatic ending.
Hunter and Prey
Part island, part underwater vessel, the Maw is a world unto itself. The Maw consists of a variety rooms and creatures, nearly all of which prove detrimental to Six's health. Unlike many of her fellow passengers, Six has one goal in mind: to escape. As you're running from enemies, take time to consider their appearance and intentions, as well as those of other characters you meet along the way.
The Maw welcomes affluent passengers looking for a private place to indulge in their deepest, darkest appetites. Those appetites tend to be literal. All guests are looking to satiate their hunger for meat. If that means scarfing down children like Six, they won't hesitate to feed their cravings.
Indeed, all the children aboard the Maw are, in effect, dinner. The ship welcomes affluent guests, and the crew abducts children and stowed away in a prison located in the bowels of the Maw. Each child is presented with toys and treats designed to fatten them up, at which time they're fed to passengers. Think Hansel and Gretel, only on a ship instead of in a candy cabin in the woods.
Then there are the Nomes, tiny creatures spooked by anyone and anything they come across. Given what usually happens to pint-sized people on the ship, who can blame them? When you're able to interact with them, Six gives them a hug. That act of kindness acts as a tonic to the Nomes: they, like Six and other kiddos, were taken from their homes. They're scared, lost, and confused. Receiving a hug assuages their fears, if only for a short time, during which they'll follow you around.
The Lady: Fairest of Them All
One of the characters you meet along your journey through Little Nightmares is the Lady, a geisha-like woman who wears a creepy mask. Just before you meet the Lady, you'll run into a Nome who offers you a bit of sausage to stave off your hunger. In a twist, Six devours the Nome instead of its offered meat. Six, like the other guests, is changing, and not for the better.
That brings us to the Lady, who shuns mirrors. Whatever's behind that mask, she doesn't want to see it. When you happen across a mirror, Six defeats the Lady by forcing her to confront her reflection. The Lady crumples, defeated—and Six eats her. (Some fans speculate that the Lady could be Six's mother, though no definitive links exist. Their connection is, perhaps intentionally, left open to interpretation.)
Consuming the Lady does more than fill Six's belly. She inherits the Lady's abilities, which she (and you) can wield to gobble up any guests who get too close. At the end of the game, a group of Nomes watch silently as Six departs. Let the credits roll. A new scene materializes: Six, on an island where a lighthouse bears the symbol of the Watchful Eye.
While no definitive interpretation of the ending exists as of yet, we can make an educated analysis of what these final scenes mean by taking evidence into account. Six went through a traumatic ideal. She suffered violence and, after inheriting the Lady's powers and scarfing down guests and Nomes, gave in to her hunger. It would seem that with her innocence gone, Six has become the titular little nightmare.
Now that you understand Little Nightmares' ending, read our guide on how to find Nomes to pad out your collection of the little critters.