Horrors lurk around every corner in Little Nightmares 2’s sinister city setting. This deadly game of hide and seek picks up where the original left off, this time with an entirely new set of twisted tormentors hunting you through a variety of dread-inducing locations. It’s a formula that works, and Little Nightmares 2 certainly has its fair share of exhilarating moments over the course of its fleeting, four-hour duration, but it also plays things a little safe, utilising many of the original’s puzzle-solving and stealth mechanics. Instead of being a shocking new horror, Little Nightmares 2’s stalk through the shadows ultimately proves to be somewhat of a retread.
New protagonist Mono may look different to the original game’s Six, donning a paper bag mask in place of her distinctive yellow raincoat, but his skill set is largely the same. The key difference here is Mono’s ability to pick up and wield a handful of different weapons to either smash through specific sections of the scenery, or to swat away smaller enemies like the disembodied hands that stalk you through Little Nightmares 2’s hospital level. Additionally, Mono is equipped with the services of Six herself, since she tags along as an AI-controlled partner through much of the journey. Six’s role is that of a slightly more proactive version of Yorda from Ico, but her relationship with Mono doesn’t really evolve into the partnership that made the PS2 classic so special.
Watch Your Six
Instead, Six acts as a handy guide whenever one of Little Nightmares 2’s adult antagonists gives chase, blazing a trail a few yards in front of you and indicating, for instance, which crate to hide behind a split second before a lumbering farmer can unload a shotgun spray. This obviously helps to minimise trial and error in more high pressure sequences, but her companionship doesn’t really introduce much in the way of teamwork as far as puzzles are concerned. Yes, there’s a dedicated input for beckoning her over to your position, but I don’t really recall ever actually needing to use it in order to coordinate a way towards a puzzle solution. There aren’t any complex mechanisms that demand to be operated in tandem, and it doesn’t really ever get more dynamic than simple synchronised acts like climbing on top of a piano lodged among some broken floorboards and timing your jumps so that the combined force of your landing can propel it downward into the basement.It’s admittedly quite adorable the way Six will occasionally mimic Mono’s actions; when he picks up an important puzzle item, she’ll often scoop up a wooden building block and amble along behind him, shadowing him like a younger sibling. But much like a little sister, Six also often finds herself getting in the way, stubbornly standing still to block your path while you’re dragging a piece of furniture, or accidentally nudging you out of cover when you’re trying to remain hidden from the watchful gaze of a wide-eyed warden.
While Six’s inclusion eventually has a surprising story pay-off late in Little Nightmares 2 — in a way I won’t spoil here — her presence feels largely underutilised for the bulk of the adventure. It also breaks the immersion somewhat that Mono is so easily spotted the moment he sets foot outside of the shadows, yet Six can seemingly stumble around in the spotlight right under an enemy’s nose and attract about as much attention as a broken television set.
Big Trouble in Little Nightmares
Speaking of which, busted boob tubes are found littered along your path through Little Nightmares 2’s gloomy narrative, which appears to be a sardonic commentary on the screen obsession of modern society. This leads to some hilariously dark moments later on when, after Mono has picked up a discarded TV remote, he’s able to toggle these goggleboxes on and off to draw the focus of certain enemy types and lure them to their death like media-loving lemmings.
And as was the case with the original, it’s the villains that really are the stars of Little Nightmares 2. There are a number of genuinely terrifying creations hellbent on sniffing you out, but the one that had me most on edge was the school teacher with the serpentine neck. Just hearing the leathery squeak of her stretching spine off-camera was enough to make me wince, but the appearance of her dead-eyed grimace bobbling at the end of it and twisting its way up towards my elevated hiding spot in the classroom’s rafters was a genuinely chilling sight.
How you avoid these hulking towers of terror, however, is by relying on mostly the same simple stealth techniques established in the original; crouch-walking to quieten your footsteps and scurrying between the shadowy undersides of tables during the short windows in which their gaze is averted. One stand-out section of Little Nightmares 2 satisfyingly strays from the norm by giving Mono a torch that freezes prosthetic-limbed hospital patients in place anytime they’re caught in its beam. It’s a startling effect to watch them shift from inanimate statues in the light to shuffling silhouettes in the dark as you quickly whip the torch around to halt their approach from all angles, and I wish there were a few more interesting departures like this along the way.
Even so, Little Nightmares 2 is still much better at flight than it is at fight, and the small amount of combat on offer failed to engage me to the same degree as the consistently hair-raising stealth. While I certainly savoured the visceral thrill of feeling my controller rumble as I dragged a heavy sledgehammer along the floorboards before pulverising the porcelain skull of one of the school section’s bullies, I found judging the arc of my swing frustratingly imprecise anytime an enemy was above or below Mono in relation to the 2.5D camera viewpoint, often leaving me open to a counter-attacking pounce from an enemy and an instant death. Spatial awareness issues also left me accidentally veering off of ledges during certain platforming sections, a problem that’s unfortunately a hangover from the original game. At least this time around the checkpoints are frequent and reload times feel much speedier, so clumsy moments like these aren’t as annoying as perhaps they could have been.