Like the first game in the franchise, Little Nightmares II pits a small child against an unyielding world of danger and horrors. Our protagonist, Mono, awakes in a forest, only to discover that everything around him has been warped and perverted by a mysterious signal somewhere off in the distance. This is communicated to the player via a myriad of cathode ray tube TVs (no 4k flatscreens in this nightmare) strewn about the environment. Most are powered off, but without giving away any spoilers, it’s the ones that are on that you have to look out for.
As per the original Little Nightmares, Little Nightmares II is a 3D stealth platformer. However, some improvements have been added to this formula. No longer will the player need fear falling off of narrow beams into the abyss due to the slightest movement towards the X-axis. Mono sticks firmly to most planks and pipes, so that frustrating insta-death worry is over. Further, unlike Little Nightmares' Six, Mono is not completely defenseless in this game. Melee weapons can be found at certain points and can be used against certain enemies. However, just lifting a large wrench is difficult for a young boy, so an expected amount of inertia makes swinging such items slow and difficult. Therefore, you really must make your swings count, or you’re toast.
Speaking of Six, fans of the original game will be happy to know she’s back as your AI companion. Her help is invaluable throughout the game, whether it be for boosting you up to otherwise unreachable heights or lending a hand during difficult puzzle-solving. But fans will also remember that by the end of Little Nightmares, Six wasn’t quite the innocent child she was at the beginning. Can she always be trusted to get your back? It’s a question that ties into one of the major themes of the series: With the world overwhelming you with obstacles and dangers, how do you overcome it all without becoming something of a nightmare yourself?
Little Nightmares II is roughly around twice as long as its predecessor – a welcome change for those who felt ripped off by the first game’s short playthrough. As such, there are plenty of gorgeous (but incredibly morbid) environments to take in and to explore. Forests, a schoolhouse, urban streets awash with an endless downpour – these are just some of the settings Mono and Six will pass through on their way to the signal. And along with these places come gigantic, bestial grown-ups that will hound you until you escape or until one of you is dead. These include a hunter with a penchant for white meat, a hideously long-necked schoolmarm, and a giant slug obsessed with mannequins. Undoubtedly, they represent the dark side of adulthood and the dangers of using distractions to hide from reality.
Going along with the warped signal plotline, staticky ‘ghost’ children are scattered about, waiting for you to release them from their earthbound torment. These figures take the place of the nomes from the original game, who felt sort of out of place and useless in their following of Six.
Little Nightmares II is not for those with delicate sensibilities. Obviously, there are many scenes of gruesome violence, often involving children. That’s par for the series, so hopefully, you know what you’re getting into. We’re talking about kids getting their skulls bashed in, people getting eaten, and others getting roasted alive. If Little Nightmares got under your skin in a bad way, you probably want to stay away from this sequel.
Mono is equipped with a flashlight for lighting up the darkest parts of this heinous realm, and later with a TV remote control (the purpose of which I will not give way, for spoilers’ sake), and little else to defend himself, other than the occasional melee weapon. But Six is always with you, giving you hints and egging you on. But to what end?
In terms of graphics, Little Nightmares II is a gorgeous game. Important items and clues pop against the otherwise darkly-colored environments. The NPCs are intricately created, adding to the horror they inflict on the player. The settings are so painstakingly detailed, it’s hard to miss a cue or a clue that can move Mono onto the next of its kind.
The thankfully more frequent save points encourage hazardous exploration off the beaten path. More often than not, this yields for the player the aforementioned ghost children, collectible headpieces for Mono, and more in-depth clues as to just what the heck happened to this town.
The bottom line is that if you enjoyed the first game and its figure-it-out-for-yourself plotline, this is just a whole lot of icing on the cake. If you’re new to the franchise, this is the title that can get you hooked. But if you couldn’t decipher the meaning or purpose behind Little Nightmares’ adventure, this is unlikely to spell out the answers you were searching for. All-in-all, this is a game of introspective reflection and meditation on just what it means to be a child in this terrifyingly confusing world. If that appeals to you, this is a must-buy.
TechRaptor reviewed Little Nightmares II on PlayStation 4 with a copy provided by the developer. The game is also available on PC, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. A PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S version is in the works.
- Gorgeous Graphics
- A Much-Needed Sidekick
- Some Offensive Capabilities
- Almost Unmatched Eerie Atmospheres
- A Spooky Player-Interpreted Story
- May be too Obtuse for Some Players
- Not for Those Seeking a Happy Ending
- Some Save Points that are too Infrequent, Creating Frustration