Title: Little Nightmares 2
Developer: Tarsier Studios
Publishers: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment
Platforms: PS4, PS5 (reviewed), Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Switch, PC, Stadia
Release Date: February 11, 2021
When Little Nightmares came out in 2017, it stunned players with its dark graphics and even darker themes. Similar games, like INSIDE, had set a precedent for dark-themed puzzle games and Little Nightmares delivered and delivered hard. With gameplay (with DLCs) lasting less than four hours, players have been chomping at the bit for a sequel and now the wait is over. We dive back into Six’s world for more terror in Little Nightmares 2.
Little Nightmares 2 is a puzzle-platformer adventure game that follows the story of a young boy named Mono. He wakes up in a forest and as you move forward, you can quickly tell that something isn’t right. You begin coming across traps and shoes and realize that many people did not make it out of that forest alive courtesy of a taxidermy crazy man named The Hunter. In The Hunter’s hut, you come across a small, imprisoned girl. That girl just happens to be the raincoat-less Six. You attempt to save her but it takes a little to earn her trust. Just as you finally make your way out of the hut, The Hunter becomes aware he isn’t alone.
Armed with a shotgun and ready to re-articulate some tiny skeletons, The Hunter chases the pair until they manage to escape, only to find themselves in the creepiest school known to man. This school is run by The Teacher, a snake-necked old woman that teaches hundreds of small, mean dolls. Mono and Six must traverse this school, make their way past fatal traps, killer dolls and the slithering teacher to an even shadier dilapidated hospital.
Old, rundown hospitals are terrifying in itself but this one is littered with mannequin (and possibly human) parts. Some of these parts are put together into horrifying amalgamations that chase you in the dark until a flashlight is shined in their direction. All of this and so much more are all punctuated by Mono seeing the shadows of other small children and having to “tune” into TVs that transport him to a long and dark hallway as the duo make their way through Pale City to the Signal Tower and find the source of the strange transmissions and the Tall Man haunting Mono.
There is SO much more that I want to talk about but this is a game that is truly meant to be experienced. While the game’s producer says that the main campaign is over three hours long, it took several days for me for a couple of reasons. Reason one is the fact that I died…a LOT.
The most difficult parts of the game for me are the instances of melee attacks you must perform, specifically on the dolls in the school. These feral toys will attack you and they thankfully have a tell before they pounce but you have to swing JUST RIGHT. If you swing too soon, you miss and they jump. If you swing too late, the dolls will attack and your weapon will go flying across the room. I can’t tell you how many times I died in that school from not hitting the button at just the right time.
On top of the janky melee controls and sometimes janky platforming controls that will send Mono swan diving off the top of a shelf, there is also the terror factor. This game scared the hell out of me. Granted, in terms of horror games, I have a weak constitution and it doesn’t take that much to make me toss a controller across the room, but mainly the causes are jump scares. Little Nightmares 2 creates this constant state of anxiety and fear that just follows you like a cloud. You know you’re not alone but you aren’t sure what lies around the corner.
I am a grown-ass woman and I found myself literally screaming when The Teacher’s head would sneak around a pile of books to try and bite down on my tiny body. More than once I had to set the controller down when dealing with the nightmare that is the animated mannequins. I would panic and try to run, forgetting to shine my light at the fiends and then run directly into the waiting hands of another monster. It’s a nightmare (insert rimshot).
Little Nightmares 2 is beautiful to look at. Where the first game took place on the Maw, and you had the dripping and rocking of a ship on the ocean, this game takes place in the crumbling remains of a city. It’s still super drippy but at least there’s no rocking. The environments are SO well done and leave you feeling cold and alone. The rotting buildings and the constant rain just leave the player feeling desolate.
I found myself just counting the minutes until my solo mission would bring me back into the company of Six, just so that I didn’t feel so alone. A favorite moment with Six and Mono is in the hospital and it involves hunting for a key inside of a toy and an old x-ray machine. It was a pleasant break in the terror and just adorable to see their little skelly bodies bouncing around.
There is no belting soundtrack, just quiet nothingness and the wailing and creaking of the rain and the buildings. You can hear the tic tic of chalk on a chalkboard, the pitter-pat of tiny wooden doll feet on the hardwood, or the whining creak of a mannequin moving in the darkness.
One of my favorite moments is when Six and Mono are running through the streets of Pale City in the rain and you hear the sound of their little bare feet slapping against the wet pavement. When the music kicks in, that’s when you know you are in trouble because something is intent on killing you. My favorite moments were the quiet ones with nothing to keep you company but the sounds of your travels and the threats in the shadows.
Little Nightmares 2 is the sequel to the first game that players dreamed of offering beautifully terrifying environments, helpful AI, scary sound mixing and a story with villains that will give you nightmares. The melee system needs improvement but it’s just nitpicking.
If this is any indication about how this year will go in terms of game releases, then 2021 is off to a great start. Little Nightmares 2 is available on last and next-gen consoles, Stadia, PC and Switch on February 11th. Pleasant nightmares.
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.