Little Nightmares 2
The only game I’ve ever given a perfect score to in my years of gaming journalism was to the first Little Nightmares. This is why I was so excited for the follow up title, and thankfully it hasn’t disappointed me in any way.
Little Nightmares 2 takes everything the first game did so tremendously well, and pumps it to the next level in every regard. The controls, mechanics, and of course horror aspects are all done at the next level, and if you enjoyed the first game then the second is sure to impress.
The game immediately throws you into the nightmare world with scares right off the bat. The world feels extremely intensified with the environment being extremely dark and horror imagery splashed throughout. The game doesn’t feature cutscenes or words to tell you the story, instead you're fully immersed within it and watching it develop as you climb your way out.
The first level alone is filled with imagery within the background as you roam about, and every puzzle and climb you come across is also leading to hints and clues of what is going on around you. Very quickly you come across your first “enemy” which is a hunter, and the story wastes absolutely no time blasting pure emotion into your soul. This is followed up by an absolutely beautifully crafted drift into a deserted city, where the imagery and story really kicks in.
The sound effects and music are just as breathtaking as the imagery itself, and everything blends together to create an absolutely pure horror experience. It is extremely daunting to see misshapen bodies and dark trees/odd shapes in the background. Beyond that, the game also does a tremendous job of making you feel small. One of my favorite parts of the first game was crawling around a bookshelf and accidentally knocking over a cup to alert the enemy, I thought it was so fascinating how small the game made you feel. In Little Nightmares 2 we get to see this again in multiple levels and many ways.
For example in one “boss” level, the game had me climbing across shelves and pushing around blocks of toys behind a teacher very quietly. Having to set everything up, then dart super fast and climb just out of her grasp was one of the most intense things I ever did. But then the game continues this and has you swing above her head. Eventually she will chase you until you make it into a vent only you can fit into. Not only are boss levels like this, but puzzles throughout the game are also set up to have you push and pull several bigger objects to basically utilize an entire room to solve puzzles. Watching your character struggle to pull something, then having an enemy character easily push it aside really puts things in perspective.
Little Nightmares does this so well the entire game never really gets boring. Simple tasks often feel perfect to where if you're doing things correctly you will either just barely get out of grasp of an enemy, or just barely make a jump. There are a few instances where the game did feel somewhat broken because of how finite the sequences were. You could be slightly misjudging a jump, or not making it within that sequence, and thus start thinking you're not supposed to be going in that direction. This often led me to exploring alternate routes that didn’t exist, only to realize I didn’t hit a stealthy sequence correctly to move forward. There is no real explanation on what it is you need to do, or where you’re supposed to go, but the game does an overall good job of leading you in the proper direction. That’s basically the only complaint I have in the game.
The only other semi complaint, which is very similar, is the games use of weapons. Unlike the first game there are multiple instances where weapons are actually used to take out enemies. I don’t mind using them because, like everything else in Little Nightmares, it’s done perfectly in terms of making you feel small. Picking up shovels or an axe, and watching your character dragging it along the floor like a reaper as it screeches along the ground, then powering up a really small swing and needing to catch their breath after; it’s all dynamically great.
One instance early in the game allows you and another character to utilize a gun, and the impact of the gun going off literally made me feel the power of what I had just done. Smaller battles with weapons feel almost just as impactful thanks to tremendous sound design, and animations. The problem I have is the game isn’t really letting you fight. It’s just another hidden sequence event. You need to pay close attention to enemies animations and swing at the right time. If you miss this tiny window of opportunity then your character will swing through the enemy, and bad things happen.
It only really gets frustrating when multiple enemies are attacking at once, so you need to quickly decide which one is first, second, etc… Some enemies are also smaller, leaving them small windows of contact, and take multiple hits to defeat. Meanwhile one simple mistake will leave you dead and have you restart the entire battle from scratch. There was only one real instance of a battle sequence that had me take a break from the game because I kept missing the last swing.
Speaking of bad things happening, my favorite aspect is how easily the game can catch you off guard. Some rooms will seem like an easy walk way, basically springing over to the other side and moving on, but normally it’s wrong. Several times I found myself stepping on a loose board, or breaking a twig, and enemies will be alerted and come after me, or some type of death trap will shoot me off screen.
It’s really neat how triggering these events normally include a split second of “uh oh” and then death. Always gruesome death. The best part about this was the fact none of them are hidden, you’re not really “randomly” triggering events. After you trigger an event, you can analyze the room and see “okay, that board was sunken the entire time” and avoid it. It leads you to carefully examine every room you walk in, and question the steps you take. What was most fascinating about these areas was being able to utilize them to my advantage. Being able to quietly trigger a swinging death trap, running from enemies and purposely triggering it on my way out, and watching them die to the trap instead was always fun. There are also puzzle moments where triggering a death trap such as a falling TV may actually be part of the puzzle, so you need to find a way to throw a heavy object on the trigger, or jump on it and duck super fast so the falling object will create a way out. Not only are the horrifying monsters your enemy, but oftentimes the puzzles themselves.
Speaking about enemies, Little Nightmares easily has some of the best character design I’ve seen in a very long time. I don’t want to spoil many of them, but want to highlight my two favorites. One is a teacher with a super long neck. This part of the game plays out in a school, and it’s done so well that when she stretches her neck to peer around the room looking for unruly kids it sends chills down your spine. Every part of this level was so tense, and her design is truly worthy of fanart and tattoos.
My second favorite is a smaller enemy where a literal hand, yes a hand, jumps out and starts chasing you. The hand itself is really neat and unexpected as it breaks off a dead corpse and sprints at you, but watching it dive off screen and shuffle behind objects, with the fingers tapping all along the floor before launching out of darkness is what really made me amazed. I don’t normally get jump scared much, but the initial run from the hand legit had an “oh sh--!” moment for me.
Luckily the game is a bit lengthier than the first and I enjoyed every moment of it. The puzzles are highly interesting, especially an ending sequence where you can utilize both visual and audio cues to choose between doors. The game never really fizzles out, and honestly feels like it just keeps escalating and escalating until it is over, at that point you're begging for more.