Little Nightmares 2 Is back to keep you up at night and disturb you in all new ways. The first Little Nightmares came out in 2017 and was one of my favourite games of the year. Since then it’s gotten some great DLC, a mobile game, Very Little Nightmares and turned into a comic series at Titan Comics. This time around developer Tarsier Studios upped the ante for scariness, introduced a new lead character and has created yet another memorable game that will have you screaming on your couch.
Little Nightmares is what happens if David Lynch and David Cronenberg made video games. It’s an incredibly bleak universe that has layers upon layers of depth depending on how much you want to explore. It asks a lot of questions but rarely gives us answers.
Little Nightmares 2 is a creepy, unsettling and simply, an unforgettable game. The first one stayed with me long after the credits rolled and I feel the same way here. The sequel takes a little time to get into but there’s a “holy shit” moment in the second chapter that clicked and everything changed. Little Nightmares 2 was said to be about double the length of the original and full of hidden secrets and intrigue, but I did find it much shorter than that.
The opening level feels incredibly familiar to anyone who has played the first game. You are being chased by a Hunter through the woods, who will not hesitate to shoot you with his shotgun. The first level gives off serious Inside vibes. It’s an intense opening scene but it feels very similar to the first game. It’s a nice opener that sets the scene for what’s to come.
It’s not until the second chapter when you get to the school, does the game start to get creepy. The scares creep up on you slowly, making you long for something peaceful and fun. There’s one moment near the end of the level that had me screaming at the TV waking up my girlfriend. I was not expecting it and I never want to relive it in my life. However in hindsight it was totally kick ass and very fun. These moments of scariness can happen at any time and when they happen they always succeeded in sending shivers up my spine.
The school is one of those school’s you’ve seen in movies that looks like an old creepy boarding house. A place where orphans would be abandoned in the 50s. Everything is wood and the rule for not doing your homework is to be beaten by a ruler. Much different than the Zoom classrooms of this day and age. The environment is incredibly unsettling, but what makes it worse is the teacher with a very loose neck and the weird creepy children. These children will eat you upon laying their dead eyes on you so it’s best to avoid them at all costs.
Thankfully, you can protect yourself this time around. The game has added the ability to pick up items as weapons. Swinging a weapon is incredibly slow, due to your small size and a weapon’s massive weight. I found the “combat” system frustrating and died repeatedly at times because of how hard it is to line up a weapon with a creepy child’s head. It’s a welcome addition to the game and it’s satisfying smashing a child over the head with a hammer, but it’s so easy to screw up that I constantly had to reset. I struggle with my thoughts on the violence and if it really brought enough to the table to warrant it a worthy addition.
The one thing Little Nightmares 2 does so well is it’s imaginative level and character design. It truly feels like you are seeing this game through the eyes of a child. Seneca famously wrote, “There are more things likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality” and it applies nicely here. We see this world through the eyes of a child. As a child we view things much differently then when we do as adults, so is what we are seeing really happening or how our protagonist sees it.
Children have a sense of wonder and creativity that we lose as we get older. Children are fascinated by everyday life, and wake up to learn new things and really explore the world around them. Through a child’s eyes, objects in life are much larger than they appear. They are rarely complacent and that’s how I feel playing this game. Scale is thrown out the window in order to tell a story. Authoritative figures and adults appear larger than life and much scarier than perhaps they really are.
Little Nightmares 2 is much bigger in scope than its predecessor. No longer stuck to the confines of the boat, you control a young boy named Mono. Mono is a small boy who wears a paper bag over his head. Eagle eyed players will be able to find more hats for him as the game progresses. Players will traverse an incredibly depressing town called Pale City. You’ll soon meet the girl from the first game, named Six except she will be missing her trademark yellow coat.
You won’t be able to play as Six, but she helps you out along your adventure. She is great for giving you clues when you’re stuck and for distracting enemies. Her AI is really great, and she never seems to get stuck or lost, you will need to depend on her to complete your journey. Despite there being no dialogue the game does a wonderful job of building their bond visually and you can tell these two characters really care for each other.
Because I’m playing a pre-release version of the game on the PS5 I’m not sure how this will affect your play through but the game got incredibly buggy by the second chapter. My character would disappear, get stuck on walls, clipping was very obvious. Lots of nitpicking here and not enough to ruin the experience but it was very apparent. Hopefully a patch will fix that shortly.
Another problem that has crossed over from the original is the platform mechanics are still a bit iffy. I often found myself dying by misjudging the depth of the level. The controls do feel a lot tighter and less floaty but that still didn’t help the overall experience. Thankfully the checkpoint system is so much better this time around. Once you die you will usually restart pretty much where you died in no time at all. This really helps speed up the game but I did find myself dying quite often. It’s one part hard and one part frustration rolled into one.
The world is bigger but it also makes it harder to see what to do. A zoom button would have done wonders here and allowed the player to really take in all the intricate details. I often found my character getting lost behind objects, or confused on where to go as I couldn’t get a good sense of scope.
Even if you haven’t played the original game (I highly suggest you do) you won’t be overly lost in the story here. There is surprisingly a lot of lore in the Little Nightmares universe despite the lack of actual dialogue. It’s visual storytelling at its best. But you can go in blind and have a good time. It’s a solid game for those who just want a creepy horror game, to tide them over until Resident Evil releases. This sequel doesn’t really answer questions you may have from the original but instead create more questions. The embargo does not allow me to talk about what comes after Chapter 3, but I certainly have questions. A lot of them. Hopefully we will see where this plays out in the future. I love this world and want to keep exploring it.
Overall Little Nightmares 2 does everything the original did but bigger and better. What’s keeping me from being more positive about the game is it’s still very much the same. I didn’t find myself falling in love with the game like I did the first time around. I felt like I’d played this game before and the new additions weren’t enough to really wow me. The combat felt tacked on and not important enough to warrant. It also didn’t help answer any of the questions it acts. If there is to be a trilogy of games this certainly feels like The Two Towers of games.
They say, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, but I would have loved a bit of newness here. Perhaps on my second playthrough I will discover a secret ending that shows off more of the world and help answer some of my questions. Here’s hoping my nerves can handle it.