Little Nightmares 2 review: Terror in the big city

The sequel to Little Nightmares is more of everything that made the first game so special. Our review.

9

The best horror games are the ones that keep you at least slightly on edge from start to finish. Ones where even in the quiet moments, you can’t escape that feeling of uneasiness. Games where even when things may seem rather normal, you know deep down that something isn’t right. Tarsier Studios’ Little Nightmares 2 has all the makings of an excellent horror game, with clever puzzles and a compelling narrative to go along with it.

A distorted world

The first Little Nightmares was set entirely on The Maw, an expansive underwater vessel full of diverse environments and peculiar characters. Little Nightmares 2 ditches The Maw in favor of Pale City, a metropolis being distorted by an evil transmission coming from a signal tower. Despite the drastic change in setting, Little Nightmares 2 still delivers unique environments, and has absolutely no shortage of creepy characters and creatures.

Another major shift in Little Nightmares 2 is the change in protagonist. Instead of Six, the girl in the yellow raincoat, we play as Mono, a young boy who wears a paper bag over his head. However, Six is still very much in the picture, as she’s the AI companion throughout the game. She helps players solve puzzles, and gives clues about the surrounding world.

It’s really neat having Six around as an AI companion in Little Nightmares 2. Her appearance has some interesting implications for the ending of the first game, and she’s also cool to have from a gameplay standpoint. Sometimes I felt as though her behavior was a little wonky, or would take too long to take a cue/get into position, but other than that, she was a great part of Little Nightmares 2.

A living nightmare

It came as no surprise to me that Little Nightmares 2 is a visually stunning game. The first game was gorgeous, and Tarsier Studios ups the ante with the sequel. From the grassy forests to the bursting metropolis, the world is full of lifelike detail. This is evident in the character/creature design, as the sense of realism really works to amplify the scares.

There’s so many characters from Little Nightmares 2 that I’ll probably be seeing in my sleep for weeks to come. Whether it be the Teacher and her twisting neck or the Doctor climbing on the walls, the design of the creatures in Little Nightmares 2 is superb.

It's the scares that I really appreciate about Little Nightmares 2 as a horror game. It doesn't rely on cheap jumpscares or loud booms to get you jumping. Instead, you're just fed disturbing imagery, often with little to no explanation. One of the creepiest moments in the game for me was early on, when I walked into a room where a family of distorted humans were eating dinner. Nobody moved, nobody made a sound. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

The sound design also helps the game amp up those feelings of uneasiness. Mostly subtle, small hits of music or a pickup in pace during a chase sequence drive up that sense of dread. The game is also quiet when it needs to be. Silence can be a valuable tool in horror, as it builds up anticipation, making the player feel like something is about to happen.

A puzzling mystery

At its core, Little Nightmares 2 is a puzzle game. Usually woven excellently into the environment, players are tasked with using the various items and structures around them to solve issues and move forward. I found a majority of the puzzles in Little Nightmares 2 to be clever and challenging, and quite satisfying upon solving. I also really liked how Six is used in puzzles, as she will help players cross a bridge, or reach a high place. I do wish that there were stronger visual clues or indications as to what area/item to focus on for some puzzles, as I sometimes found myself running back and forth and interacting with everything until I got on the right path.

Little Nightmares 2 also adds combat as a new mechanic. Mono can find objects around the world, such as a hammer, and wield it to destroy enemies or break objects. Since he’s a small kid, the weapons are super heavy, dragging on the floor behind him. When attacking, there’s a bit of a wind up, which means players will need to time their swings in order to actually hit an enemy. One It’s sprinkled in nicely, never becoming too pervasive or overshadowing other elements of game design. Instead, it’s just another solution to some puzzles and obstacles.

New nightmare

Little Nightmares 2 is bigger (literally twice as long) and better than the first game. Yet, it keeps that personal, closed-in feel that Little Nightmares established. Pale City is a great new location full of unique characters and creatures. With an excellent blend of horror and puzzles, Little Nightmares 2 is a homerun for Tarsier Studios and Bandai Namco Entertainment.


This review is based on a digital download code provided by the publisher. Little Nightmares 2 launches on February 11, 2021 for PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch for $39.99.

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

Review for
Little Nightmares 2
9
Pros
  • Visually gorgeous world
  • Clever and challenging puzzles
  • Creepy and unsettling creatures
  • Superb sound design
  • Intriguing characters
Cons
  • Six's AI can feel a bit wonky sometimes
  • Could use clearer clues for some puzzles
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