Horror is one of those genre’s that is either loved or loathed and though I am personally not a fan of its common traits, whether it be the over-the-top gore or jump scares, Little Nightmares 2 does a great job of delivering thrills through its chilling atmosphere and intense gameplay. The second release in the series is developed once again by Tarsier Studios, but this time around the player controls Mono, who has help from the first games protagonist Six and is now controlled by the AI. Our small and unique heroes they must travel through Pale City, survive and uncover its secrets.
Mono awakens from a dream and travels through the wilderness to eventually arrive at a dilapidated shack. Six is found imprisoned within the shack and Mono helps to free her and escape. A masked hunter soon gives chase with a gun and in an edge of the seat escape sequence, the pair eventually find themselves travelling across the water atop a door, heading towards the Pale City.
A 2.5D platformer, Little Nightmares 2’s gameplay remains stealthy at its core, while bringing a little bit extra to the table compared to its predecessor. The player now has the ability to fight back with the swing of a hammer or pipe, though it can only be used against certain smaller enemies. It is a nice addition to the gameplay, but can become frustrating at times when mistiming a blow to the enemy due to its slow animation. While it plays very much like a side scroller, there is a lot of verticality to Little Nightmares 2, which is good for exploration, but sometimes the lack of camera control can be a hindrance to the user experience. There are plenty of tight spaces to maneuver that can be challenging to successfully pass through and being able to gauge Mono’s steps is only made more difficult with the awkward camera angles. There were also multiple times where it was difficult to measure how far or close to the camera a certain object or enemy was and it sometimes just felt like a guess, but this was not a too common occurrence.
There are a few unique areas to be explored throughout Pale City and while each of them has its own theme and set of enemies to fight or avoid, the overall dark setting between each of them does not vary a whole lot. There is always one main enemy that each area focuses on and they are always inherently disturbing and unnerving. One of the many moments of suspense I experienced was when I hid in a room from the school teacher, and as she opened the door and I expected her to enter the room to look for me, her neck stretched out a distance to scope it out instead, in search of her next meal. These small sequences where the player must remain hidden while being hunted are always intense and keep the heart rate high.
The interactive environments are vital to level progression and Six is also a helpful companion that will assist in getting to those hard-to-reach places. Most puzzles are not significantly difficult, over time they can be solved simply by exploring every avenue, though I would be lying if I said at least a couple of times I did not stagger over a solution. Throughout the world there are also a number of traps that can be activated by the player if they are not careful, but most of them can usually be avoided with a keen eye. I did find in the quiet moments when I had time to take in the world around me the traps were easily forgotten, but that is far from a bad thing.
There is no dialogue throughout Little Nightmares 2 and its story is encompassed within its visuals and sound design. Gameplay is accompanied by music that always sets the mood of any particular scene and it always becomes more intense when spotted by an enemy. The various creatures of this world also have their own unique and unnerving sound that is an ominous reminder to remain vigilant and above all else, hidden in the shadows. Like the first game, the sounds are important to the players survival as some enemies can be out of sight and their movements can only be heard, not seen.
Little Nightmares 2 is a visual masterpiece. Tarsier Studios have done a fantastic job of making a world feel so real and at the same time so unworldly and unrealistic that it is almost confusing. Each enemy has its own unique look and movement, which forces the player to approach each of them a little differently. The darkness of Pale City is always prominent, often with a subtle amount of light within each area, whether it be indoors or outdoors. There are times where there is complete darkness and the player has to make use of a flashlight to light their path; it always left me worrying about what was behind me.
Though violence is at a minimum in Little Nightmares 2, the dark themes are definitely not something that should be shared with any children, unless the player would like to share a bed with them and keep the light on. It can simply be paused at any time if the player has to take on any parental duties, but it is always a much better experience when fully absorbed within the gameplay.