A major theme of Little Nightmares is hunger, so much so that there’s an entire musical motif dedicated to the subject which drives the player’s character throughout the game. Hunger has a physical effect, slowing down Six, causing the screen to pulse, and being the focal point of several tense scenes in the game. But what does this hunger do? The ending to the game is vague, but the motif comes round and round, so numerous theories abound about the nature of Six’s hunger and its consequences. We will be discussing major plot points and spoilers, so be warned as we dive back into the Maw.
One interesting theory is that Six’s hunger isn’t just a convenient plot device, and instead, it influences her actions and paths throughout the game. Hunger, gluttony, and overabundance are all prevalent themes in the Maw, as seen from the Guests who look fit to explode or the over-the-top opulence of the Lady’s chambers, so it’s no surprise that even Six is affected by this hunger in a very literal way. It also escalates as the game progresses, with Six going from eating bread and raw meat to eating a live rat and the beloved Nomes of the Maw. However, there is a reason for this descent into debauchery.
As of the Into the Depths DLC, we see that Six is not the only child trying to escape the Maw. The protagonist of the DLC, known as ‘Runaway Kid,’ makes his own escape attempt at roughly the same time Six tries to escape, and you can see several instances where their journeys overlap with each other. Unlike Six, Runaway Kid bounds much closer, and works more with the various Nomes of the Maw. Even more interestingly, Runaway Kid never suffers from Hunger, at least not in the same visible way that Six does. So Hunger isn’t something that equally affects all the residents of the Maw. This doesn’t mean he escapes the tragic effects of this hunger, however. Near the end of the DLC, Runaway Kid learns of the Lady’s darkest secret: her true face, which is as hideous and distorted as the rest of her Guests. This causes her to shatter the mirror she was using and pursue the Runaway Kid until she captures him, turning him into one of the many Nomes of the Maw. It’s likely that all the Nomes are former kids, but his fate goes further. The DLC ends with our newfound Nome standing beside a sausage in a familiar room. The same one we later enter into as Six, to be offered a sausage by said Nome…
Only to be eaten by Six. A tragic end for the Runaway Kid, but it provides an opportunity for Six herself. The theory is that Six ‘absorbs’ both the knowledge and abilities of anything she eats. While there’s no inherent effect gained by eating bread or raw meat, gamers have noticed that after Six eats the live rat, much of her journey takes place in the small passageways and gutters that the rats use to get about the Maw. And what does Six gain from eating our Runaway-Kid-turned-Nome? The knowledge about the Lady, her face, and her aversion to mirrors, which ultimately aids her in fighting the Lady in their final encounter. How else would Six know she needed an intact mirror to combat the Lady’s powers?
And finally, we have the moment where Six eats the Lady herself, causing the lights to flicker and a shadowy essence to go into Six. Six is seen walking out of the Maw, uncontested with her powers over life and darkness. A gruesome scene overall, but Six got her wish: an escape from the Maw. And I look forward to seeing how this theory stands the test of time, seeing as Little Nightmares II, as far as we have seen pre-release, does not feature Six using her powers at all, and instead requires the help of Mono to avoid “fading away.” Perhaps we’ll learn something new to rework everything we thought, but until then, that’s just a theory.