OUR RATING: 9.5/10
It doesn’t look like it, but Little Nightmares was released almost 4 years ago, and it was one of the best games of 2017. This week, Little Nightmares II arrives, adding some new features, but continues to bet on an experience that mixes innocence and terror in an incredible way.
Little Nightmares II starts differently by introducing a character: if in the first game we controlled Six, the little girl in the yellow raincoat, now we have Mono as a protagonist, a little boy with a paper bag on his head. We don’t know exactly who these children are, but the mystery is part of the charm of this series.
You live an intense journey, without a word being said. Mono seems to have some macabre relationship with televisions – in a kind of Poltergeist atmosphere, that horror film from the 80s – and he will be constantly running away, chased and cornered.
This type of game, which is an almost uninterrupted (and somewhat bleak) journey but adds its own lore to the recipe. And the lore here is not necessarily narrative, but conceptual: it is present in the world, in the atmosphere, in the creatures. Little Nightmares II is a cooperative game for one player.
Mono will invariably encounter the little girl from the first game, and the two will have to help each other to overcome the obstacles and dangers of the campaign.
Little Nightmares II is a game that doesn’t give you much breathing space. Although it is divided into chapters, and there is a clear thematic differentiation between them (like “the school”, “the hospital”), the way we move between each area is practically uninterrupted, and this is “healthily” influenced by the monstrosities that will be always on our trail.
As we are constantly in danger situations – being chased, or walking slowly so as not to be seen by hideous creatures – here there is not much space to relax. You must always be moving forward, and when you encounter a locked door, you must find a way to get through it.
The game masterfully inserts its puzzles into the scene itself – the so-called environmental puzzles, and you need to make do with what you have. Throwing furniture around, climbing drawers, squeezing through ventilation ducts … the game does not give many tips, so it is important to always be aware of the surroundings and what can be useful.
The game is also successful in leveling out how challenging your puzzles are: they are never too easy, but they can also leave you a few minutes going back and forth, thinking “how do I get there?” or “how do I activate that lever?”. You will invariably succeed, and you will feel smart about doing so without having to resort to a guide.
Not to say that it only “reuses” the ideas of the original game, Little Nightmares II brings good news. The cooperative work that takes place between characters is one of those good news. You can’t play Little Nightmares II with someone else (unfortunately), but AI does a great job of controlling Six and helping us whenever it’s necessary – like pushing things or pushing to reach higher places.
The other novelty that is very relevant is the combat: if in the first game we could only escape and hide, here we have specific moments when the combat is necessary. At these times, we will always find a pipe or hammer to use, and it is incredible to notice the weight, the effort that Mono makes to handle the “weapon”. He is, after all, a small creature in a giant, disproportionate, scary world.
To top it off, there are a handful of collectible hats that can be found, as well as some “ghosts” with which we can interact. Hats don’t bring new skills or anything, but it’s cool to be able to vary the “paper bag on your head” look throughout the game.
The Good, The Bad and the Overall Experience
Little Nightmares II is coming to PCs and consoles of the past generation – an upgrade to the new consoles is due out later this year. The PS4 version runs very well, with fluid gameplay and neat visuals. The atmosphere of this game is incredible, a remarkable work of art direction that oozes style with its mundane settings and its twisted and bizarre creatures.
As impressive as the look, is the sound. This is the type of game that deserves to be played with a good pair of headphones. The sound of rain on a roof, the creaking of a door opening, the sound of something heavy and terrible crawling on the floor – everything sounds clear and crystalline, and makes you even more apprehensive.
The soundtrack is also incredible, starting from the innocence of a music box or the more resounding and intense themes, perfectly combines with the pursuits. What the sound department of this game does in terms of enhancing the immersion of the experience is impressive, so please take this advice: use headphones and isolate yourself from the world to be absorbed.
Little Nightmares II may not be very innovative if placed alongside the games released, specially with the use of new generation consoles, but it still fulfills its role in terms of expanding that universe, adding new concepts and ideas that bring freshness to the gameplay.
The fact is that not every sequence needs to be revolutionary and what we have here is a new story, a new journey, set in a new part of that universe. It is an immediately familiar world, but it is also new, it is not just “more of the same”.
So, if you liked the first Little Nightmares, you can come to Little Nightmares II without fear, as it is as incredible, intense and dark as the original game. And when you play, please do it the right way: at night, with the light off and a good pair of headphones.
Little Nightmares II is released today – Thursday, February 11, for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.