Little Nightmares 2 review

By Sean Carey,
We’ve all experienced it. That pang of fear when you turn off the light at the bottom of the stairs or hallway. You turn your back on the enveloping darkness and sprint to your warmly lit bedroom. As you peer back into the dark, an unsettling feeling overcomes you — there’s nothing there, but it feels like there is something there, watching you. It’s a fleeting moment that’s wracked with creepy and unnerving tension, and Tarsier Studios has once again managed to replicate that feeling of dread with Little Nightmares II.

Little Nightmares 2 review

Little Nightmares 2 follows on after the events of the first game, but this time you’re not playing as Six, you play as a small boy named Mono. Mono has found himself trapped in a world where TV screens emit an evil signal that hypnotises and stupifies the denizens of The Pale City (our equivalent would be The Big Bang Theory). Mono, with the aid of Six, sets out on a journey through the crumbling city to investigate the source of the mysterious broadcast. And much like the first game, the world around them is terrifying, filled with constant threat, and also strangely beautiful.

Standing in both Mono and Six’s way are several grotesque machinations of the mind that a team of twisted people at Tarsier Studios has dreamt up. Each antagonist is something akin to a human — they almost look human, and they shuffle around in similar ways to a human, but they are far from it. Each of the four main disgusting villains are out to get the pair, and let out cries of sheer unnerving delight when spotting Mono. For fear of spoilers, I won’t talk too much about the enemies in this review (plus I’d probably be doing them a disservice trying to describe them), but know this: they are ghastly beings that you wouldn’t want to see peering at you from the end of that unlit hallway of yours. The villain that I will mention is the one that stood out for me the most, an unassuming creature known as The Teacher, who menacingly paces up and down her classroom, slamming her ruler down on the desks of naughty school children, and uses human organs in her biology displays. It’s only when you accidentally knock over a jar or walk too quickly does her true terrifying form become apparent. Her neck extends extraordinary lengths to see what the commotion is about, twisting and turning underneath furniture and through table legs to seek you out — you have to be quick to find a hiding spot before she crushes you between her teeth. The Teacher is a great antagonist because she looks, for the most part, normal — it’s quite shocking when you see that bulbous head and gangly neck eerily creep towards you for the first time. Tarsier Studios has done a superb job in creating weird and standout characters once again.

Little Nightmares 2 review

The same can be said about the locations in Little Nightmares 2 — the world oozes with character. For a game that is awful, gloomy, and depressing, it’s strangely beautiful, which is paradoxical. More often than not, I would find myself gazing at the wonderfully rendered backdrops, especially in the Pale City. Locations feel bigger and more expansive than they did in the first game. In Little Nightmares, you are technically in some sort of twisted underwater resort hidden from prying eyes in the middle of the ocean, so there wasn’t much scope for varied environments. In the sequel, the outdoor locations feel vast in comparison, even more so when you realise how small Mono and Six are — the pair are easily overwhelmed by the imposing skyscrapers in the city. Once inside, areas such as the hospital or the hunter’s house are impeccably detailed with strange, usually bloodied, paraphernalia that you know would just smell awful. The care and attention Tarsier has put into the locations really help create an unsettling atmosphere. Combine this with some creative sound design (creepy children laughing from the shadows, the shuffling and grunting of something large and unidentified in the next room), and the atmosphere itself instils an almost overwhelming sense of dread that gets the heart pumping and mind racing. Little Nightmares 2 earns itself top marks here — you’ll be hard-pressed to find a recently released game that’s more atmospheric. One area that had me on the edge of my seat during my playthrough was the Hospital. At one point you’re plunged into darkness and have to make your way through large wards filled with these bizarre and awful creations made up from dismembered torsos and prosthetic arms and legs. It’s still, quiet, and with the aid of a flashlight (a returning mechanic from Little Nightmares’ Secrets of the Maw DLC), Mono has to navigate through this maze of amalgamations, and you’re never quite sure if you just saw one of these strange creatures twitch or if it’s all in your head.

Little Nightmares 2 review

For the most part, the gameplay is unchanged from Little Nightmares, but there are a couple of exceptions. Six is now an AI companion who offers you a helpful boost into otherwise inaccessible areas and sometimes offers subtle hints for puzzles. The most significant change with Little Nightmares 2 is that you can fight back against some of the lesser enemies. Mono can pick up heavy objects such as pipes or an axe to heavy-handedly bludgeon them to death. Although this is billed as combat, it feels more like a puzzle that’s disguised as combat, requiring precise timing to complete. These sections are sparingly used, and they do offer a reprieve from the normal stealth-based gameplay, but more often than not, you’ll die because your timing was slightly off. The timing window is fairly small, and it can be a bit finicky to get right, so it’s easy to make a mistake and be thrown back to a checkpoint. Thankfully, Little Nightmares 2’s checkpoints are a lot better than in the original — you won’t find yourself having to repeat certain platforming areas like before. Aside from the combat, and having Six as an AI buddy, there isn’t much new here to talk about in terms of gameplay — it's more of the same puzzle-platforming fun. Having Six accompany you on your journey as Mono builds an interesting relationship that melds nicely with the overarching plot. I won’t say more for fear of spoilers, but something happens that made me let out a shout of anger. I didn’t think I’d be so emotionally invested, but after spending roughly seven hours with the pair, this moment came as a complete surprise.

Little Nightmares 2 combat

On the achievement front, Little Nightmares 2 has a pretty varied achievement list. Those of you who have played the first game will be pleased to know there isn’t a time trial achievement in the sequel. However, there are plenty of collectables you’ll need to seek out, and some cryptic secret achievements that will require some thinking outside of the box. On paper, the achievement list doesn’t look as if it should give you any trouble, especially since Little Nightmares 2 does have a chapter select allowing you to go back and grab any achievements you missed the first time around. At a guess, a completion should take between six and eight hours, possibly quicker if using a guide.

Summary

With Little Nightmares 2 Tarsier Studios has once again dreamt up a wonderfully unnerving world filled with grotesque and fantastical creatures that is a horrifying pleasure to explore. Gameplay is mostly the same as in the original, with the only significant exceptions being the addition of Six as an AI companion and some clumsy combat that actually feels more like a puzzle than anything else. If you enjoyed the first game, and you’re looking for more of the same creepy goodness, you can’t go wrong with Little Nightmares 2. Just maybe sleep with the lights on after you’re done playing.
8 / 10
Little Nightmares II
Ethics
Sean spent around eight hours avoiding the unimaginable horrors in Little Nightmares 2, unlocking 15/35 achievements in the process. A review copy was provided by the publisher.
Sean Carey
Written by Sean Carey
Hey, I’m Sean! I joined both TrueAchievements and TrueTrophies as a staff writer in 2019. I’m a big fan of the Metal Gear Solid series and love a good narrative adventure. Most evenings you’ll find me failing to get a win in Call of Duty: Warzone.