Released on the 11th February for pretty much every platform you can think of, Little Nightmares 2 is the follow up to the critically acclaimed 2017 horror experience Little Nightmares. Obviously. This is my Little Nightmares 2 review.
Clocking in at anywhere between four and six hours long, Little Nightmares 2 is at all moments absolutely beautiful and utterly disturbing. I have inconsistent experiences with horror titles over the years. Some, like Outlast or Dead Space, I absolutely adore and revere as some of the finest in the genre. Others, like Resident Evil 7 or Alien Isolation, I respect as excellent experiences but simply can’t get through them. Mostly due to the stress!
Little Nightmares 2 never quite hits either tone on the nose, in part because it’s a deft puzzle experience as well as a horror. The horror is definitely front loaded here, with many of the games scariest or most disturbing moments coming in the first half of the game. As you find yourself reaching the end point, Little Nightmares 2 leans more into its environmental puzzling elements, plus a whole bunch of world building.
For someone like me, who likes his scares broken up a little, Little Nightmares 2 was practically perfect in terms of tone. In between chase scenes and hide and seek you’ll be navigating hallways and rooftops, finding keys, and manipulating the world around you to progress.
That’s not to say that Little Nightmares 2, or the developer Tarsier Studios, go easy on you. Not at all, in fact from minute one you’re on the backfoot. Through Little Nightmares 2 you play as Mono, a small child who wears a paper bag over his head. The protagonist from the first game, Six, acts as the deuteragonist here.
“I fear a lot of the emotional points of the second game might be lost.”
Switching up the lead character isn’t something that the studio is new to here, as the DLCs for the first game did the same thing. The main issue with the switch up here is that if you haven’t played the first game, as I haven’t, then Six won’t mean anything as a character. For the purpose of this review I made sure to read the backstory of the first game, but for anyone else I fear a lot of the emotional points of the second game might be lost.
Without the attachment to Six as a character, without the knowledge of what she’s been through, I’m not sure the weight of certain moments will really be felt.
Thankfully though, story is a secondary device in Little Nightmares 2. In fact it’s so sparse that a lot of what I now know about the characters is driven by fan theories and speculation, instead of concrete info. As a result, pretty much every character is mute, the exception being Mono who utters a ‘hey’ when calling Six to his location.
What I find quite remarkable is the quality of the world that Tarsier Studios have created. The world of Little Nightmares 2 is filled to the brim with set dressing, character models, and creepy shenanigans that layer real depth. Every time I was feeling stressed enough to put the game down, I found myself wanting to jump back in to see why. Specifically, why is the world filled with broken TVs? Why is the architecture twisted and sagging?
“What I find quite remarkable is the quality of the world that Tarsier Studios have created.”
These are questions that may or may not get answered throughout your time with Little Nightmares 2, but the fact remains that the world is interesting. The Tim Burton-esque characters, surrounded by horrific locales and hair raising set dressing, they’re interesting.
Some of my favorite games use the environment and design language to aid their story. Little Nightmares 2 relies on it, and it works a damn treat throughout.
Interestingly, despite Little Nightmares 2 being a primarily two-character affair there are no options for co-op, local or otherwise. The way the levels and moments are designed honestly wouldn’t work for a co-op experience, but it’s an interesting decision that must have been discussed in pre-production.
The gameplay is designed around two characters though, and what’s there is quite impressive. Mono can platform and defend himself pretty handily given the chance, and Six is much the same. She mostly follows Mono around, but operates on her own accord in the right situations, navigating stealth and combat with aplomb. A lot of it is scripted, but it adds a level of character that I came to appreciate.
Of course, a horror game wouldn’t be a horror game if it wasn’t scary, right? Well don’t you worry people, Little Nightmares 2 is literal… Nightmare fuel.
From minute one Little Nightmares 2 is, quite frankly, terrifying. Not in a cheap way, it doesn’t rely on jump scares or shock factor, but in a nuanced way. Any moment not spent running away or avoiding something horrifying is valuably spent building tension. Off beat music, ominous noises in the distance, unexpected movements in the background.
“From minute one Little Nightmares 2 is, quite frankly, terrifying.”
The first 5 minutes of Little Nightmares 2 has you running away from a gun toting, gas mask wearing mad man. There’s an area filled with mannequins that only move in the dark. There’s a moment where you’re being chased by a very spider-like hand. Yes, just the hand.
Some horror games, like Outlast, keep the tension high at all times. Chases 24/7, jump scares around every corner, invasions of personal space. It works for that specific game because of the environment. Outlast is a game about escape, but Little Nightmares 2 is about a journey.
Considering that, and Little Nightmares 2 paces its horror based themes brilliantly. As I mentioned, it’s a little front loaded though. As the game progresses the scares get less obvious and more ‘implied’ if you will. The game never gets less creepy by any means, but the out and out scares drop off throughout the second half of the game.
“I actually appreciated the game focusing on the world design that the studio so clearly worked hard on.”
Whether or not the change in pace vibes with everyone I can’t be sure of, but as for myself? The first half of the game was so intense that I actually appreciated the game focusing on the world design that the studio so clearly worked hard on.
Little Nightmares 2 isn’t without its quirks, don’t get me wrong. Any kind of combat or ‘using of tools’ is awkward due to the 2.5D orientation of the levels, for instance. It took me easily 30 minutes to figure out how to properly direct a flashlight in one level. A bit of a pain when said level relies on the flashlight.
Likewise any game that relies on atmosphere and ‘creepiness’ is hurt by any repeated sequences. Unfortunately Little Nightmares 2, due to its focus on puzzles and chase sequences, has an inherent trial-and-error to it. The feeling of overcoming the challenges is satisfying, but upon five or six retries any scare factor is lost, leaving the player itching to just get to ‘the next thing’.
“Every scene is shot meticulously, with the fixed camera angles zooming in on creepy shots, or zooming out on gorgeous vistas. “
Aside from those issues though, Little Nightmares 2 is honestly one of the most complete horror experiences you can play right now. There’s a plethora of backstory and theories that you can explore if you want, and Tarsier Studios have put in so much work into the world and level design that it practically bleeds out around you. Every scene is shot meticulously, with the fixed camera angles zooming in on creepy shots, or zooming out on gorgeous vistas.
Little Nightmares 2 is a fantastic indie experience, and a truly stellar horror title. Could I recommend it to anyone? No, not really, it’s a damn scary horror game with very minimal story. But it’s an excellent game nonetheless. It stressed me out, hit me in the feels, and had me gasping in appreciation at the art style and direction. If you enjoyed the first, enjoy horror games, or just like playing unique indie games, give Little Nightmares 2 a shot.
I’ve been playing video games in some form or another for nearly two decades. My favourite campaign of all time is Halo: Combat Evolved and my favourite multiplayer of all time is Overwatch, with a dash of Halo 3. Huge lover of everything gaming, no matter the platform or source, and I enjoy a story driven campaign like nothing else!