Published on February 28th, 2021 | by Zorbz
REVIEW: Little Nightmares 2
Little Nightmares was one of those polished Indie developed titles that seemingly came out of nowhere and cemented itself as a top contender in my opinion. I found it to be up their with some of my favourites in the platform/horror genre such as Limbo and Inside and unique enough to stand on it’s own.
So How does the second iteration stand up against the original? and does it leave as strong an impression as the first game did?
Story/Concept: Little Nightmares 2 puts you in the role of ‘Mono’, a little boy wandering through a hellish urban landscape sporting some of the most terrifying abominations to date. The story itself is very vague and obscure as you literally start out with no introduction or cutscene in a forest which leads you meeting up with the previous games protagonist ‘Six’. Mono finds Six hiding from a deranged hunter and makes an escape with her which leads you to a huge city where the rest of the game takes place.
Journeying through a school, a hospital, houses and apartments, you get a real sense of the overall theme which seems to be focused on TV’s and seemingly mind control which I attribute to being a metaphor of one of the 7 deadly sins ‘Sloth’, just as the previous entry was all about gluttony and people stuffing their faces. It’s a game that has you making your own assumptions and there’s a great community online that shares their thoughts and ideas of what is really going on which leaves the story lasting, much like a mystery waiting to be solved after the credits end.
As the game doesn’t follow a linear narrative or sport any sort of dialogue, this could turn some people away, but I do prefer some things to be left up to interpretation as it leaves more of a lasting impression then something so definitive.
Graphics: Visuals for a horror game can make or break it, are the environments creepy, are the character designs scary etc? One thing that the previous Little Nightmares game nailed was grotesque human designs that bordered on monstrosity and this has carried over perfectly in this new title.
The enemies are all human inspired but their contorted and not so anatomically correct designs are haunting and honestly even more creepy then a straight up monster design. The way the enemies animate, moving around sluggishly and twisting around in disturbing ways just sends shivers down the spine. My main gripe though is there is a fine line between animating things odd on purpose and also just poor animation work, which unfortunately seems to pop it’s rear head as enemies don’t interact with things properly or move so rigid it doesn’t look like it’s by design, but overall the quality is there with just a few hiccups here and there.
Apart from the character designs being haunting, the locations you journey through are just as spooky and create their own tension with the use of colour, cluttered/claustrophobic designs and excellent lighting. Lighting is definitely something that really makes the atmosphere come together as well as the strong audio design which I touch on below.
Gameplay: My major gripe with Little Nightmares 2 is the controls! I don’t remember the first game giving me so much grief but this latest entry just feels so incredibly stiff. The animations of Mono can be very wonky and simple tasks like jumping, climbing and even running just don’t respond well at times. I felt half of my playthrough was smooth and the other half was pure frustration, so it wasn’t a case of slight annoyances but some pretty major ones.
Another major issue is the combat itself, everything is so time based so when you’re ready to attack and press the button to strike, you notice some input lag which makes it feel unresponsive and often i had to press the button earlier then i felt i should. It’s also one hit and you’re dead, so imagine the frustration when a simple task of swinging a weapon become/knowing the right time to run passed or climb up something to get out of harms way works a treat (when the controls do what you ask of them). The puzzles are fun too but I feel the emphasis on combat should have been either majorly stripped back, and made more responsive or cut completely in favour of more stealth/puzzle sections.
As mentioned earlier Six accompanies Mono throughout the majority of the game however she is not playable and this is not a two player game. Six is purely controlled by AI and just follows you around, occasionally helping out by flicking switches, holding out a hand to help grab you after a huge leap or boosting you up to hard to reach places. She might not do too much but she definitely adds something to the experience by being around in such a lonely world. She also plays strongly into the story of the game and this can be witnessed just by simply watching her interactions with certain things or at crucial moments in the goings on.
All in all the gameplay I found to be a let down compared to the previous entry and a step back. Hopefully if there is a third game they either fix the fighting mechanics or just get rid of them altogether.
Sound: For a game that doesn’t have any voice acting or dialogue apart from Mono or Six calling out to each other, the Audio along with the visuals have a tough job to create the narrative for you. This is one aspect Little Nightmares 2 nails. The ambiance and foreboding in each environment, the disgusting noises made by characters and screams of enemies are all terrifying and put you on edge throughout the entire experience. The porcelain children in particular make some truly horrific screams that are just blood curdling and honestly if you have a good headset, use it, because this will add to the tension and give you the full audio experience.
Replayability: Little Nightmares 2 offers very little reason to jump right back in after the credits roll apart from trophy hunting which surprisingly has a pretty easy platinum trophy to obtain. It’s definitely an experience at the time but apart from new little hats to wear and some random shadowy figures to find, the collectibles are pretty scarce so you won’t want to jump back in and do it all over again, aside from tracking the down the ones you missed via an easy to access chapter menu. I can see in maybe a few years I may want to experience the story again, but it’s definitely not something I wanted to pick up and play again multiple times on repeat.
Final Word: Little Nightmares 2 definitely has it’s flaws that’s for sure but what it does well is dishes up some great horror story telling with the use of strong visual and audio design. Just keep this warning in mind that the controls will most likely frustrate you and if you hate stories that aren’t linear or lack dialogue both written and verbal then this won’t be for you.
It may not be as memorable as the first entry for me but I think it’s setting is different enough from the first to stand on it’s own and not just feel like more of the same, giving a nice new journey down the rabbit hole into madness.
Out of 5 Bugs!