Four years after the launch of the original game, Little Nightmares 2 is finally here and it’s just as atmospheric and haunting as ever.
Released as a follow-up to Tarsier Studios’ 2017 game, Little Nightmares 2 is the perfect sequel. You play as a little paper bag-clad boy named Mono, and you’re joined by Six, the protagonist from the original game. Together, you and your companion traverse the oversized horrors of the Pale City, a seemingly decrepit place.
As soon as you first set foot in the gloomy grey metropolis, it’s obvious that you need to watch your step despite the continuous silence. Unfortunately for you, the city isn’t as abandoned as it seems upon first glance. You’ll be treated to some of the best spine chills of 2021, thanks to childhood horrors such as creepy mannequins, a monstrous school teacher and a sadistic doctor lurking around every corner.
Compared to the original, Little Nightmares 2 has a tendency to try too hard to be difficult. However, if you’re a fan of the puzzle-platformer horror genre, Little Nightmare 2’s immersive atmosphere is the perfect way to test your nerves. Obviously, major spoilers below.
Little Nightmares 2 review: Plot
The game begins with Mono, the main protagonist, awakening in the middle of a forest next to what appears to be an old-fashioned television set. You encounter gruesome bear traps scattered across the overgrown environment before coming across a cabin, where you encounter Six. Once you free your new companion, you defeat the Hunter and sail across the river on a broken door Titanic-style to reach the Pale City, the setting of the rest of the game.
The vastness of the Pale City is a rude awakening for players who had grown used to the Maw, the underwater location from the previous game. Here, both Mono and Six encounter a flurry of enemies as they progress through their journey to reach the Signal Tower.
After finding their way into a battered School, Six is kidnapped by a group of rabid porcelain Bullies that attack on sight. Mono is forced to rescue her, and the pair reunite to escape from the terrifying Teacher with a snake-like neck.
Mono and Six leave the School, only to encounter the Hospital, where the bloated spider-like Doctor roams free. After resisting capture by an army of mannequins, the two heroes lure the Doctor into an incinerator, killing him.
The pair then travel to the heart of the Pale City. After several iterations of a recurring vision of a crooked corridor, Mono unwittingly releases the Thin Man from captivity, who promptly kidnaps Six. Left all alone, Mono traverses through portal-like TV sets to escape entranced Viewers - residents of the Pale City who seem to be mind-controlled by the Signal Tower.
Once Mono reaches the exterior of the Signal Tower, he defeats the Thin Man in an epic encounter. He then enters the building and discovers his next foe is a twisted and oversized version of Six. After defeating her and releasing from her curse, Mono and Six attempt to escape from the fleshy eye-balled entity that exists within the Thin Man’s realm.
However, just as the heroes seem to be close to safety, Six betrays Mono, dropping him into a pit and leaving him for dead. The end cutscene shows Mono sitting in an old wooden chair, trapped in the same room from which he had released the Thin Man in the first place. As the scene progresses, Mono spends what appears to be decades within the room, eventually turning into the Thin Man himself.
Little Nightmares 2 review: Gameplay
Little Nightmares 2 creates an immersive gameplay experience by building on the original game and refining the edges. Even with an AI-controlled companion, the game never seems too straightforward or simple. On the contrary, Little Nightmares 2 will constantly find new ways to separate you from Six to keep you on your toes throughout the game and force you to survive on your own wits.
Although Little Nightmares 2 is available for both PC and previous gen consoles (with a current gen version coming later in 2021), the game itself recommends that players use a controller for a more engaging experience.
Overall, the game builds on all that was great about Little Nightmares. Thanks to a relatively short game time of around five hours, Little Nightmares 2 keeps each level exciting and non-repetitive, constantly throwing new challenges as Mono and Six progress throughout the Pale City.
Compared to the previous game, Little Nightmares 2 also includes some minor quality-of-life changes that fans will appreciate. Crucial items such as keys no longer need to be carried and are instead stored in Mono’s pocket. More importantly, walking across narrow bridges is no longer troublesome as the game places invisible barriers that prevent players from falling into the endless abyss. Don’t be fooled, however. Little Nightmares 2 is full of pseudo-scripted deaths from hidden bear traps and falling crates that will keep you in check the moment you start to feel even a tiny bit of confidence.
Nonetheless, one noticeable flaw of the game is its newfound reliance on combat. Shortly after escaping from the Wilderness and the clutches of the Hunter, Mono and Six come across a school in the Pale City. There, Mono is forced to fight off multiple porcelain Bullies using any items in his vicinity, including hammers, axes and pipes.
Having the chance to defend yourself was a considerable deviation from the original Little Nightmares, where, in most cases, you had to escape from whatever enemies you encountered. The sequel takes this to the other end of the spectrum, however, with Mono spending what seems to be a sizable chunk of game time fighting off enemies such as Bullies and spider-like detached mannequin hands.
The combat mechanics can be clunky at times, particularly since aiming in this puzzle-platformer can be unnecessarily difficult. Due to the shifting point of views in the game, aiming often seems counterintuitive as pointing your mouse/analog stick towards the direction of enemies can cause Mono to spin around in one spot.
Little Nightmares 2 review: Visuals and sound
Even with the lovable duo of Mono and Six, Little Nightmares 2’s chilling atmosphere is by far its greatest accomplishment. The game makes great use of your oversized surroundings by always making you feel small and powerless, forcing you to think of creative ways of surviving.
This is where the teamwork between Mono and Six comes in handy. The pair frequently take on their grueling obstacles together, opening heavy doors and solving puzzles to escape from whatever is chasing them at that point in time.
Light Nightmares 2’s soundtrack helps create and maintain the mood of the game. The music often dictates the tempo of any given scene, drawing a clear line for players to know when they’re in immediate danger, when they’re solving puzzles, and when they can afford the time to bask in the game’s stunning environments.
Little Nightmares 2 review: Ending
Fans of the previous game have found the ending of Little Nightmares 2 to be shocking to say the least.
After defeating the game’s main antagonist, the Thin Man, Mono frees his beloved companion Six from the Signal Tower. However, shortly after escaping from some sort of eye-balled mince meat monstrosity, Six proceeds to betray Mono in a cruel twist, dropping him off a cliff in the dying moments of the game.
This betrayal traps Mono in a room eerily similar to the room from which the Thin Man originally emerged earlier in the game. After a timelapse that showed Mono spending decades trapped within the room, it becomes readily apparent that there is a time loop at work as Mono himself is revealed to be the Thin Man.
Why Six chose to betray Mono in the last moments of the game is difficult to say. Some theorize that Six may have recognized Mono to be the Thin Man, while others speculate that Six felt the hunger that she experienced in the first game and dropped Mono to save him from her cannibalistic desires. However, nothing is confirmed, nor do we expect it to be anytime soon (if ever).
What’s even more shocking about the game’s ending is that should the player take the time to collect all 18 Glitched Remains of children scattered across the game, they’re rewarded with an additional short cutscene revealing the secret ending. After betraying Mono, Six emerges from an old-school television set, indicating that she safely escaped the realm that entraps The Thin Man. As she emerges, Six is greeted by a glitched version of herself (also known by fans as Shadow Six), who then points to a brochure that appears to depict the Maw, the main location of 2017’s Little Nightmares.
This has unforeseen implications on our understanding of Little Nightmares 2, as this short cutscene suggests the game was not a sequel, but a prequel to the previous game. Upon closer inspection, several plot details seem to support this theory, including Six finding her famous yellow raincoat in the middle of Little Nightmares 2, as well as her lack of god-like abilities that she inherited from The Lady at the end of Little Nightmares.
Little Nightmares 2 review: Verdict
Overall, Little Nightmares 2 is a unique horror game experience that builds on everything that we loved about the previous game. The Pale City’s bleak atmosphere, fitting soundtrack and flurry of enemies kept us on the edge of our seats.
Even despite the occasional flaws in the game’s combat system, Little Nightmares 2 is the perfect sequel (or a prequel?). Thanks to its original gameplay and tear-jerking plot, this puzzle-platformer is a must-play for gamers regardless of whether or not they’re fans of the horror genre.