Little Nightmares II is a game with a huge amount of promise. Its 2017 predecessor, Little Nightmares, quickly became one of Tarsier Studios’ best releases. That’s high praise considering that the developer has previously worked on projects like LittleBigPlanet. But the dark story, savage, world, and perfectly blended platforming and puzzle gameplay made it a surprise hit.
With its sequel, Tarsier Studios is now looking to expand the narrative and improve upon its predecessor. The end result is a game that is one of the first must-play experiences of 2021. Any fans of the first game will want to check it out, while every other gamer should at least try it.
Little Nightmares II essentially follows directly on from the events of the first title. Six, the small child and protagonist from Little Nightmares, returns in the sequel. However, this time Six has been relegated to being a computer-controlled character. Players are now taking on the role of Mono, who frees Six and accompanies her throughout the rest of the narrative. Mono acts as a sort of protector for Six, guiding her through the terrifying world.
As a sequel, it’s best to play Little Nightmares before delving into the new narrative. It is not strictly necessary, because the franchise has a unique way of storytelling. Nothing is really told directly to the player, with there being no dialogue or in-game text to explain what is happening. Instead, gamers are expected to explore the world and make their own assumptions about the events.
Little Nightmares II excels at creating mysteries that you want to solve. By not revealing anything directly, the story drives you on with a drive to uncover the reasons the world has become so monstrous. While there seems to be no definite answers, the game provides plenty of material in clues to keep players guessing. Just like with its predecessor, fans will have a lot to consider when coming up with fan theories and explanations.
The sequel also takes Six to new locations, expanding the in-game universe. This helps to give Little Nightmares II a sense of being a bigger and more established world. By the end of the story, it’s hard to not feel personally invested. Thankfully, there’s a satisfying pay-off at the conclusion that feels well done, even if it is a little confusing.
Like all the best sequels, Little Nightmares II evolves the formula from the first game. Rather than simply rehash the same game in a new setting, it attempts to broaden the gameplay mechanics to create a new experience. So, although many of the elements of the sequel will be familiar, it does just enough to bring something fresh to the party. This is primarily done through the introduction of combat. However, there are also some extra stealth mechanics and co-op puzzles.
The co-op sections add a little complexity to what are typically very easy puzzles in Little Nightmares. Six is controlled entirely by the computer and can help you in certain circumstances. This might include holding out a hand to help catch you when jumping over a bridge, for example.
The developer has also added some extra items to use in gameplay. For example, one area sees Mono using a remote control to activate TVs and provide a distraction for Six. It’s little things like this that help to keep the gameplay from getting too stale.
The most important addition, though, is the combat. It’s not a common occurrence, where players will be fighting enemies regularly. Instead, combat is reserved for certain situations. This not only adds a new layer to the gameplay but ups the ante when it comes to taking on opponents. The fact that combat only happens in a limited fashion makes it feel more dramatic and impactful.
Like its predecessor, Little Nightmares II retains a great visual and audio style. There are few games that nail an aesthetic so well but this sequel does just that. Everything takes on the appearance of a blend of Tim Burton movies, Lovecraftian horrors, and fairytale stories. It’s a distinctive style but it works well, conveying the frightening nature of the world.
Little Nightmares II doesn’t have to rely on jump scares because the world is so scary by itself. You get a sense of being in a creepy unwelcoming environment that is filled with characters that will haunt your dreams.
The music also remains just as foreboding as it did in Little Nightmares II. However, the soundtrack never gets in the way. It plays softly in the background, adding tension but not taking away from the drama of the sound of the world around you. Little things like being able to hear Mono’s heartbeat as he sneaks past enemies also help to immerse you. It’s difficult to not feel the panic and terror that the hero is in these sections.
Little Nightmares II is one of the best platformers of recent times and a solid improvement over the first game. It is filled with superb set-pieces, terrifying characters, and haunting environments.
With the addition of a bigger world and new gameplay mechanics, it also feels like a more well-rounded experience.
Although it only lasts around five hours in total, every single minute is a joy to behold. This is a game everyone should play.