Four years after the successful debut of Little Nightmares in 2017, the sequel, Little Nightmares 2, has landed but you are dreaming of a continuation of Six’s misadventures, well, that’s not what the title says.
Little Nightmares 2 serves as a prequel rather than a sequel and players take on the role of diminutive protagonist Mono, and this adventure begins in a dark menacing forest fraught with traps. Mono will soon find and rescue Six in the bloodthirsty Hunter’s house, and together, the duo will travel across the city and finally reach the Signal Tower to face the source of all evils in this distorted world.
Unlike the first installment where everything took place on a massive underwater iron vessel called the Maw, the world of Little Nightmares 2 consists of the forest, a city with school, hospital, apartments and shops, and the Signal Tower. While the game is a side-scrolling platformer, the transition from one location, or chapter, to the next is seamless and unobtrusive.
The Little Nightmares 2 world is meticulously designed to create an unique atmosphere for each location. In the school, Mono scampers through a cafeteria teeming with students smashing plates and playing with their food. In the hospital, he sneaks gingerly along the corridor cluttered with abandoned wheelchairs and trolleys of medicines. When trespassing abandoned homes, he steps past heaps of boxes and papers haphazardly strewed on the floor. These are the details that makes the Little Nightmares 2 world, for the lack of a better word, beautiful.
Though it is a gloomy world, the Little Nightmares 2 world is well-lit. In the previous game, some players criticized that the environment was way too dark, leading to unnecessary accidental deaths. This has been totally rectified in the new game. Even in the dark hospital wards, Mono could effortlessly navigate his way using a torchlight.
Background music is rare in Little Nightmares 2, and environment sounds are amplified instead. This makes the gameplay more disquieting and jump scares more effective. Players will be sneaking Mono across the quiet library when suddenly the Teacher on the other side of the bookshelves emits a shrill screech, extends her neck, pops her head over, and catches his little body with her teeth. This is the reason why playing the hospital chapter in the middle of the night might not be a good idea for the faint of heart. That being said, the Little Nightmares 2 theme song is melodious and players will remember it even after completing the game.
The controls for the game are simple, but getting out of a gnarly situation with assailants chasing after Mono’s little butt is anything but easy. If the escape route is not efficiently planned, Mono can be easily caught right before he slides beneath a bed, or when he is climbing up a shelf too slowly. Like its predecessor, players must be prepared to die very regularly in Little Nightmares 2. However, players will also be pleased to know that improvement has been made to the loading screens and the loading time has been tremendously reduced. Now they can repeat the process of dying and respawning at the last checkpoint without much delay.
Sneaking past bosses is easier than running away from them as Mono can hide behind shadows or in empty boxes while the bosses are engaged in their mundane tasks. Patience is a virtue and keen observation of the bosses’ movements will get Mono out of sticky situations safely.
Some light combat mechanics have also been added so that Mono can defend himself from smaller assailants like the students or the hands. Just remember that it is strenuous for Mono to lift a hammer or an axe that could possibly be as heavy as him and thus his attack is slow. Missing the first hit could mean death. Again.
Besides all the running, environmental puzzles are also an essential component in the game. Most of the time, the solutions are noticeable if players are observant enough. There are also a few challenging puzzles that are not as straightforward and require the players to think out of the box. Or for a couple of these puzzles, think out of the lift.
Similar to the first game, there are collectibles to be found in Little Nightmares 2. All chapters except for the last chapter contain hats and glitching remains hidden somewhere in the environment. They may not add any new content to the main story, but it is fun to get Mono’s head out of the paper bag to wear different hats, especially the ones which make his face visible. Players who have played the first game will also be delighted to find quite a number easter eggs scattered across the locations.
Wait, the whole game is focused on Mono? What about Six? Sadly, Six has taken a step back to be a NPC in Little Nightmares 2, though she factors into the game play. While players will not be able to control her, it is unwise to ignore her. Six will usually subtly provide hints to the puzzle, or indicate clearly which way to go. With her help, Mono can also reach switches that are too high, open doors that are too heavy, or jump across gaps that are too wide knowing that Six will reach out with a helping hand on the other side.
Even without dialogues, from the few short cutscenes we can see how the relationship between Mono and Six grows throughout the game. How it started with Six running away from Mono, to both trusting and relying on each other to get out of danger. This is the kind of superb storytelling from Tarsier Studios that will warm your heart, and also break it.
With a much bigger world, the playtime for Little Nightmares 2 is significantly longer than the first game. At an average of 5 to 7 hours (factoring in all the deaths and puzzle-solving), the playtime for Little Nightmares 2 is about twice as long. In these 5 to 7 hours, players will develop empathy for Mono and at the same time have a deeper insight of Six’s character. And at the end of the last chapter, the plot twist will leave the players sitting there with their mouths agape.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Little Nightmares 2 has an enthralling storyline that does not require players to play the previous game to appreciate. The sinister and sometimes grotesque residents are intriguing in their own ways. The ominous atmosphere keeps the players on their toes almost all the time and the puzzles are ingenious and relatively free of repetition. It is unmistakably a fun game, as soon as the players have gotten over the exasperation of dying too many times.
Gameplay - 8/10
Story - 8.5/10
Presentation - 9/10
Value - 9/10