The long-awaited Little Nightmares 2 is finally here, folks! And though I was a bit hesitant about setting my expectations too high (I’ve been let down by too many sequels, you see), I can safely say this game does not disappoint! This time around, we play as a boy named Mono, though it isn’t long before we are accompanied by Six from the original game. (We don’t find out it’s her until the end of chapter 2, but this detail is pretty much already spoiled in the game’s online description, so…) Mono’s goal is to brave the Pale City, reach the Signal Tower, and find the source of the Transmission. Along the way, he and Six encounter various grotesque creatures and must use stealth and wits to survive.
Often times, even if a sequel is good, there tends to be something lost that made the original special. So I was really pleased that Little Nightmares 2 does everything right that made the original good, while adding a few features to help it stand out from its predecessor. For example, even though the game only offers limited exploration, with the majority of your progress being from left to right, the world just feels bigger. Sure, the Maw as a whole was huge, but I don’t remember really getting that sense of scale except for the one time you go outside. This time, there’s a forest and even a massive city. Maybe you can only explore just a small portion of it, but the difference is, you don’t feel confined. Even the inside locations felt larger, with portions of hallways going off into the distance, so even if you couldn’t actually go down that way, it felt like you were in a much larger building.
I also loved having Six as a companion. I think the way her AI was handled had the potential to make or break the game, and this was certainly an example of a computer-controlled character done right. Six is actually very smart and knows what to do in any situation you’re in. I never felt frustrated that she was holding up my progress, and she can’t be spotted by monsters, so there’s no worries that she’ll be the cause of your failure. Instead of feeling like a burden like certain AI characters can, she felt like a real person with her own mind who was actively helping you in your journey. Not only does she help with puzzles that couldn’t be solved otherwise, but she is useful in other ways, too, from grabbing the second fuse for me so I don’t have to backtrack for it or acting on her own to close a door before the pursuing monster can reach us. She actually has a lot of personality, too, and I especially enjoyed exploring a particular part of the hospital with her, where she would wave at me from behind the X-ray screen and show off toys she had found in the adjacent room.
Another new addition to the game that was mostly good was some light combat. To be honest, the last thing Little Nightmares needs is battles, but there were a few occasions where Mono would need to whack enemies with a weapon, and it was usually brief enough that it didn’t feel like it was ruining the pace of the game. The only part of the game that really frustrated me was a section of the school where I had to go down the hallway and smack the bullies. I could not get the timing right, and it’s pretty hard to hit these guys because they’re so fast, and Mono really only gets one shot at it because his weapon is so heavy for him to lift. Maybe it was just me or maybe there could have been a better indication of when to attack. (I mean, maybe you just swing as soon as they scream at you? Do I just have slow reflexes or something?)
Graphically, the game looks amazing. The detailed environment, paired with the lighting, made this game look so real and like a work of art. The sound was great, too. It was quiet most of the time, as any good horror game should be, stressful when it needed to be, and just the little noises, from the teacher slapping the student’s desk with a ruler to the eerie sounds of a TV playing in the distance, all combined to make an amazing, atmospheric experience.
Like the first game, most of the monsters were really memorable, as well, both the major ones and even the lesser ones that enjoy ganging up on you. I would say they’re definitely as scary as last time. The only disappointing thing, which was not the game’s fault, mind you, was that I think I’ve become rather desensitized to the sort of scares Little Nightmares has to offer, so I was not nearly as frightened as I was when I played the first game. Again, that’s a personal problem. Plus, that’s not to say there weren’t plenty of really amazing moments, many of which I did not see coming. (And I’m gonna be honest with you guys for a moment. The very same night after I played through the school, I had a dream the teacher was chasing me.)
In general, the game was nearly perfect, with a few issues mainly stemming from the grab button not always working as intended. It sometimes took multiple tries to grab an object, and I struggled sometimes to reach a ledge that should have been within my grasp. I never felt like this caused me trouble in terms of escaping from enemies, but it was a small nuisance that I feel might have originated with the first game and should have been fixed by now.
Little Nightmares 2 is a fantastic and surreal experience that you simply must play if you’re a fan of unique horror games. It did a great job in expanding on the original game’s world, while still keeping things vague enough for speculation, a major strength of the first game’s story. Not to mention there were plenty of memorable surprises that I won’t soon forget. I really look forward to seeing where this series goes next. In the meantime, I’ve got some theory videos to watch….
This post was originally published on Virtual Bastion on February 23, 2021.