Little Nightmares 2 Review: A thrilling, engaging, and superior horror sequel
Played on: PS5 (Original)
When Tarsier Studios released its big indie horror hit Little Nightmares back in 2017, they were able to create a unique horror experience with incredibly creepy, atmospheric visuals and world-building that left fans theorizing if there was more in the future. Now, Tarsier amplifies the atmospheric horror and adds in new gameplay elements to create an excellent sequel.
The original instantly stood out for its creepy, clay-like character designs and throwing players into a dark and mysterious world. With Little Nightmares 2, the visuals are elevated to a great extent to create a more immersive and detailed environment. Based on the improved lighting alone, Little Nightmares 2 has one of the most visually striking horror worlds in gaming. As a new bag-headed protagonist named Mono, players will traverse a creepy wilderness and the dark innards of The Pale City to escape the grasp of new antagonists headlined by the mysterious and powerful Thin Man. The environments have much more realistic textures and the sound design creates this eerie feel that constantly puts you on edge. Little Nightmares 2 has a much more distinct look compared to the original with it having a perfectly paler color palette and utilizing better lighting and weather effects to create more compelling and complex settings.
The character designs are even better with players running into new horrifying presences, both big and small, that fit incredibly well into their environments and are super memorable. Whether it’s the daunting presence of the Hunter in the wilderness or the wild and vicious faction of the “Bullies” in the school, there’s a lot of evil that players will have to escape and come with top-notch designs. Out of all the terrifying characters you come around, none compare to that of the Thin Man. This Slender Man-like antagonist has a presence that can be felt throughout the game and a slim, dark demeanor that makes his slow-movement towards you very creepy. From the first second you see him, it’s easy to tell that he’s a powerful foe and the game showcases that incredibly well throughout the level dedicated to him. Overall, there’re plenty of amazingly designed new characters to run and hide from, but what if you didn’t always have to run and hide?
There’s a moment towards the end of the incredible first chapter with the Hunter that signifies how Mono’s adventure is much grittier and darker than Six’s. They both still contain that vastly intriguing sense of mystery that drives you throughout the whole game, but Mono’s adventure goes to some much more shocking, even violent places that create some chances for retaliation that are excellently reflected in the gameplay. While Little Nightmares 2 still contains the stealthy gameplay and thrilling chase sequences that was the base of the original heart-pounding gameplay, there’re new gameplay elements that allow players to fight back. In certain levels players are able to pick up hammers and pipes to dispatch smaller enemies and it’s a great change of pace from just running away all the time. It makes playing as Mono much more empowering, but doesn’t completely strip away the tension of encounters, rather it makes them much tenser.
The level design is equally top-tier and innovative as there’s a lot of depth to areas and hidden passages to explore to find some cool collectibles. The puzzle platforming is still challenging yet rewarding as exploring the small areas offers new ways to get around and backtracking actually plays a good role in solving puzzles. It’s great that Tarsier has even incorporated a cool traversal method in the fourth chapter and even created a horrifying new enemy in the early stages of the third chapter. If you thought mannequins were already creepy, Little Nightmares 2 offers something much creepier that’s a cool use of the flashlight and a nice spin on the Boo enemies from Mario. Admittedly, the way the camera moves can make the more combative gameplay a little frustrating at times. For instance, when trying to swing at Bullies with pipes, the depth perception and camera distance can make you feel like you’re about to nail them, but you end totally missing. However, it’s easy to look past that with how Tarsier not only creates a visually stunning environment with depth, but also has traps and other engaging surprises within the environment that keeps players on their toes.
It’s also worth noting that while players are solely playing as new character Mono, who’s design I absolutely love, Six also makes a return as a computer AI that helps you out. When I first heard about this, I was a little skeptical because computer AI partners aren’t always the most reliable – Resident Evil 5 comes to mind. However, Six totally blew my mind with how genuinely useful she is and how she sticks with you without getting in the way. There was even a point where she grabbed another item for me on her own to help me save time. It’s such an easy thing to overlook, but really adds to the smooth gameplay experience.
There’re some glitchy moments that Tarsier can hopefully fix in the future in terms of clipping and some graphical errors. There was even a moment where I should’ve lost a stealth section, but the enemy got stuck on the corner of a desk, so I was able to book it to the end. There’re rarely gameplay bugs or truly game-breaking moments, but it’s something that doesn’t go unnoticed and took me out of certain moments.
Now, although Six does make a return and this is a direct sequel, it’s fair to say that Little Nightmares 2 is Mono’s story and that’s definitely not a bad thing. Like the original, there’s more visual storytelling with no dialogue that takes players through different horror landscapes that slowly build the story of Mono. It’s really great how the game feels like Mono’s game with players even being able to change his hat based on hats they collect throughout the game. There’s a great connection and twist when it comes to Mono’s connection to the Thin Man that will get the fanbase going crazy and leads to a really amazing finale that paves the way for Six’s story to continue. There’s even a hidden ending that connects this game to the first in a way that fans will love and can see if they manage to collect all the collectibles.
All in all, Little Nightmares 2 is a superior sequel that creates a deeper, more compelling horror environment that constantly thrills and surprises you and improves on the standard gameplay to keep the experience fresh. It certainly sets up the possibility of a strong future for the Little Nightmares series and showcases Tarsier to be a strong indie force for the genre with the kind of creeps and chills they continue to deliver.