Little Nightmares 2 is a game that stayed with me long after the credits had rolled. It’s a short game, lasting only a half dozen hours at most but what it lacks in length it makes up for in impact. A sequel to the original game starring Six, Little Nightmares 2 introduces Mono; “a young boy trapped in a world that has been distorted by the humming transmission of a distant tower.”
I’ve not played the original so I’m not sure how much more I’d get out of this game if I’d had. However, while the two will undoubtedly reference on another, Little Nightmares 2 feels like it stands on its own. Mono’s story, while intertwined with Six’s, is very much his own and although the original protagonist is present, she’s little more than a passive observer and companion.
Additionally, Tarsier Studios has said it has broadened the scope of the sequel extensively. Beginning in a dark, eerie forest, Mono and Six make their way to a crumbling, twisted city towards the Signal Tower which is at the heart of everything wrong in this world. As they make their way through the city, Mono and Six will explore a number of environments including a school and hospital. Each location is a perversion of itself, broken, ugly and bearing only the worst possible traits of what it should be. The different locations and chapters each have a very different look and feel too but all feature a consistent style which makes them fit together as a cohesive, if nightmarish, world.
Little Nightmares 2 Review
As a puzzle-platformer, Little Nightmares 2 blurs the lines between genres. It may be a platformer but it’s also a narrative adventure game and even a bit of a walking sim. Throughout its runtime, often the best moments come between the action when Mono and Six are merely making their way through the city. Nothing is occurring other than the slow trudge forward but it’s in these, the in-between moments, that Little Nightmares 2 shines brightest. The calm and quiet is underscored and punctuated by the tense action sequences and the cerebral puzzles making the ‘non-gameplay’ the most impactful.
The ever-present threat of danger can almost disappear during the quietest moments in Little Nightmares 2. Six and Mono almost able to forget their struggle, just for a second and simply live rather than struggle to survive. Almost, but not quite. Some standouts which come to mind include an abandoned playground and rain-soaked back alleys. In the former, Mono and Six can clamber aboard a see-saw and throw a ball through some long-forgotten goals but the piled up refuse, broken concrete and discarded belongings turn quaint to sinister.
Similarly, there’s a kind of twisted beauty to the world Mono and Six make their way through, especially during the rainy downpour. Rain-slicked alleys shine in the moonlight and the dark and quiet feel like peace…until a thud in the distance shatters the illusion. First one, then another, then another. Something is falling onto the streets and the sickening wet slap that’s made when concrete meets object is stomach-churning. When Little Nightmares 2 isn’t allowing you to quietly enjoy the world it’s making you think or forcing you to survive.
Puzzles in Little Nightmares 2 aren’t too taxing and mostly require you to move object A to location B, there are quite a few decent conundrums which require logic and timing. Rather than simply present players with a platforming section then a puzzle section, Little Nightmares 2 smartly blends them together. Often, I didn’t even realise I’d solved a “puzzle” until after the fact. This kind of smart design is part of what makes this game such a joy to play. Rarely, if ever, did I find myself stumped by some obtuse, awkwardly designed “puzzle” because Little Nightmares 2 is meant to be experienced rather than grappled with.
As for “platforming”, Little Nightmares 2 is a platformer but more in the LIMBO sense than the Mario one. You’re not attempting precision jumps and perfectly timed leaps to make it through. Instead, Mono clambers his way through and over obstacles, jumps small gaps and uses whatever tools he has at his disposal. For the most part, the platforming in Little Nightmares 2 is fine, there are occasions when the controls become unresponsive or Mono gets stuck on some geometry. Usually, this occurred when I needed the most control and caused me to die. It’s frustrating, but frequent autosaves reduce the need to replay large sections.
Aside from jump and sprint, Mono can grab objects. By holding R2 Mono will pick up whatever is nearby or grab onto boxes, ledges, platforms etc. Small objects can be thrown and large weapons (sticks, axes, pipes) can be swung to attack baddies.
Combat is new in Little Nightmares 2 and it’s a bit hit and miss. The notion that Mono is so small he struggles to wield these weapons is thematically consistent with the rest of the game but it’s not necessarily enjoyable. Actually making contact with enemies can feel at the whim of the engine at times. Often, I’d be sure I’d connect, only for Mono to be grappled to the ground and murdered, my swing apparently a fraction too late. The way enemies hesitate before attacking also leads me to believe combat was too easy without it but with it, it’s a little awkward.
That being said, combat is a very small part of Little Nightmares 2 and certainly not problematic enough to derail the entire experience.
In its short runtime, Little Nightmares 2 tells a powerful story and one I won’t ruin here. The final few moments left me agape and frantically trying to understand exactly what had happened and what it all meant. There’s a lot to unpack and I’m definitely looking forward to the discussions and theories to come after release.
Artistically, Little Nightmares 2 is a slam dunk. The visuals and sound design are phenomenal. Looking like Gerald Scarfe’s cartoons from The Wall come to life, the adult characters in Little Nightmares 2 are horrific. There’s an unknowable quality about adults for children and the designs here play on that. Faceless, mindless television zombies, half-constructed mannequin patients and empty-headed bullies all play on specific fears and bring them to life in stunning visual clarity. It’s not often that at 35 I have bad dreams but some of the artwork in this game crept into my subconscious and did me no favours at 3 am some nights.
The audio is subdued and atmospheric, mostly played to highlight drama and tension or to set a sombre mood. In that, it’s absolutely perfect. Throughout the game, the audio is doing a lot of heavy lifting, getting players into the right mental space to ensure the dramatic turns hit as hard as possible. The sounds made by enemies are also wonderfully creepy and a real highlight.
Overall, while there are some slight niggles, Little Nightmares 2 is a superb puzzle-platformer that’ll worm its way into your brain and stay there.
Little Nightmares 2 was reviewed on PS5 using a PS4 code provided by the publisher.