Hide and seek is a game adults often associate with their childhood, of running around the playground to find a decent hiding spot while the seeker counts to 10. In Tarsier Studios’ Little Nightmares, the concept of hide and seek is taken up a notch where being found could spell doom for your little raincoat donning protagonist, Six.
This same game of creepy hide and seek continues in the game’s sequel Little Nightmares II which sees us playing as a new protagonist, the paperbag wearing Mono.
Much like the original game, Little Nightmares II is a stealth puzzle platformer featuring young Mono adrift in a dangerous world that feels all too big for him. The demo we got to try had us starts out in a dreary, foreboding-looking forest littered with numerous traps that could instantly kill you should you take one wrong step.
In certain backgrounds, you can actually see the bodies of people who have inadvertently fallen prey to the dangerous traps, their bodies decomposing and fly-infested. These corpses help to add to the feel of dread and melancholy that pervades the chapter as Mono tries his best to make it past the forest.
There are a number of instant death traps that are kind of a trial-and-error types, as they are often hidden underneath piles of dead leaves and unless you are suspicious of everything and anything in this game, you frankly won’t think that a trap is right in front of you, lying in wait to snare and kill you. While they can prove to be frustrating, the game restarts quickly enough and you can return to beat the puzzle (sometimes quite literally) and move on in a matter of seconds.
Make it past the many death traps, and you will soon stumble upon a house in the middle of the forest that looks like it has seen better days. The many traps littered around the front of the house helps add to the sense of mystery to the game as you try to figure out its lore and what exactly is going on. It is also in this little house that players are reunited with Six, though this time she’s not wearing her signature raincoat.
For the rest of your journey from here, Six will be accompanying you around and helping you out, be it by pushing heavy boxes together to access a different part of the map, or catch you before you fall down a steep cliff to your imminent death. Six seems all too familiar with this house and its surroundings, which leads us to wonder what exactly happened to her since we last saw her in Little Nightmares, sitting by the entrance of the Maw, waiting to be rescued.
Though the game isn’t particularly scary, with little to no jumpscares, there is a constant feel of dread as you make your way through the map, culminating in the boss battle of this forest map against the Skinner, who we were first introduced to in a room filled with cured animal skin hanging by meat hooks. From there on out Six and Mono will have to try their best to hide out of sight from the Skinner, making a run for shelter whenever they can to avoid being shot to death by the creepy boss.
We can’t wait to see what boss battles we will be encountering in different maps as Tarsier Studios has said the game will feature a number of locations aside from The Forest. This includes The School, The Hospital, and The Black Tower.
While Little Nightmares II proved to be suitably atmospheric, with a feeling of rot and decay that succeeds in making a lasting impression on us with its overall creepiness, there are some issues we came across in the demo. The biggest is the inconsistent check-pointing, where we often ourselves having to re-do a puzzle from much further back that we initially thought, thanks to the game’s auto-save function.
With Mono able to run on the Z-axis in the game, it also made certain moments of precision platforming particularly frustrating, especially when you find yourself having to attempt a puzzle again, or tumbling off a cliff simply because you jumped off or were running at a slightly wrong angle.
We hope the developers will fix these issues, as the rest of Little Nightmares II succeeds in being an incredibly well-designed game with brilliant animation and sound design (the scratching sound in the animal skinning room still gets to us every time). And with no two puzzles in the game being all that similar to one another, we can’t wait to see what new experiences await us in the other locations of the game.
Little Nightmares II will be released on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch on 10 February 2021 and on Xbox One and PC (via Steam) on 11 February 2021.