Little Nightmares II Review
The epic platforming horror game, Little Nightmares has returned with a second installment. Little Nightmares was a critical success when it first released with fans dubbing it as a game that looks like it came 'straight out of Tim Burtons Nightmares' - which I am inclined to agree with! Developers Tarsier Studios has promised that with their second installment they would bring the same chaotic horror goodness as the first title, but expand upon the world a little more so that fans could get a sneak peek into the lore a little further. With a new protagonist in our control, and a whole new part of the world to explore, does Little Nightmares II live up to its promises, or does it fall flat into the pool of mediocre horror type games? Check out our review below to find out!
When it comes to its gameplay Little Nightmares II performs as a typical platformer, with puzzle elements. It presents itself in stages, which each require the player to get from point A to B to complete them. Although don't think for a second this game is anything like your typical 2D / 2.5D platformer, because it's not. In fact, Little Nightmares II feels much more aligned to games such as Limbo or Inside, but with much more 3-dimensional set pieces. What's more, is that Little Nightmares sets itself apart from other platformers through its ingenious puzzle design. Stages are build-up with "rooms", which each usually have a unique puzzle or threat to face within them. In the puzzle rooms, you will be required to simply use items in the environment to escape and in the enemy rooms, you will be required to escape from a murderous loony, fuelled with the intention of adding you to their lunch menu. In worst cases, which is less often as seen in the first Little Nightmares, you will be required to do both - Escape a horrifying, long-headed, evil... THING! and also solve a puzzle to get out of the area you are in.
Now although Little Nightmares II is banded as a horror game, it essentially is more of a thriller. You never feel so scared that you debate whether to continue playing or not, but you will feel anxiety rise as you try to outrun terrifying opponents. The way I describe it to my friends is, the enemies are similar to that of the Weeping Angels in Dr Who. They are pretty terrifying, but not terrifying enough to make you lose sleep. Talking of Weeping Angels, for those of you who know what these are... there is an enemy in Little Nightmares II that 100% took inspiration from these. So keep an eye out!
This title is a hard game to explain without ruining the glory of it. But I would say if you are a fan of the popular titles Limbo and Inside, then you pretty much know what you're getting yourself into, and THIS game is 100% worth playing on that factor alone. One thing I will say, that frustrated me during my playthrough, is that a majority of the time when things were calm, the controls felt really nice, responsive, and overall well constructed... HOWEVER, when you are being chased by these monsters in the dark, controlling your torch is a pain. I'd find, that I'd be trying to shine my torch on an enemy opponent, to see where they were and my torch would spasm and start shining in the complete opposite direction. This led to a few deaths that were frustrating as opposed to leaving me thinking I was being bad at the game.
I would say that Little Nightmares II feels like it's cranked down the number of threats, and cranked up its puzzle dial when compared to the first game. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as the new enemy types are a lot more haunting and unpredictable - therefore having a little more "down-time" from the suspenseful chases is much appreciated (in my opinion). I would also go to say that Little Nightmares II is a little bit easier than the first game, although this doesn't make it any worse. It still is not for the faint-of-heart, and you will die a lot. Trial and error is the core mechanic of this title, and that is still here as bold as ever. Overall I would say that Little Nightmares 2, carries about the same score for gameplay as the first game.
Little Nightmare IIs graphics were certainly a step up from that of the first game. It looks good and does do some pretty neat tricks to help things such as wet surfaces pop and reflect nicely. Although, the game doesn't get any credit for doing anything new. Textures look good, although at times, can look muddy and flat. Characters animate really well, although, with the bigger characters, they can do some pretty janky things, with some strange odd clipping issues occurring. Don't get me wrong, the game looks really nice, but as we move into the next generation, it is clear that this game was intended for the previous one.
That aside, Little Nightmares II looks really nice overall and it's murky tones, really match the world that it pits you into. Nothing looks clean and perfect and neither is this world. The rain in this game looks stunning, and in those moments where you wonder around outside, you'll be taken away with how nice the water animations run and the reflections work. It's in these moments that Little Nightmares II looks its best. But when you go inside, the graphical dial drops a bit and things look a little less "sharp".
One last gripe that I have with the game is its lack of 60FPS on the more powerful consoles. Xbox Series X, S & PS5 run this game at a clean 30FPS. This is sad because on my PC, the game runs at a smooth 60FPS, which makes all the difference. It's not something to stop you playing the game, in fact you'd be silly to miss this! But it certainly does look best on PC's - and I don't even just mean top-end ones. Mid-range PC's will outperform the game on Xbox and PS.
Wow... I mean - WOW! The first Little Nightmares handled its audio well, opting for ambiance over music - but I don't really think that anything that it offered me was really memorable. Little Nightmares II is a masterclass in using music as a part of the ambiance, to help inform players of what is happening. It uses really un-nerving melodies within its soundtrack, but somehow still is able to tell you through sound alone, that you are safe. In those moments where you aren't safe, then Little Nightmare II spins the ambiance dial and fills the room with loud crashes, and chaos. The music never really vamps up to a fast-paced melody, but instead mixes into the surroundings of the chaos, informing players that it is time to run.
I instantly fell in love with this game when I reach a moment, after chaos where a twisted melody booted up. It resonated with me as it sounded very similar to nursery rhymes we heard in school, therefore making me realize that what I was about to encounter was not an enemy. But let me be clear, the instruments, the note structures all felt demonic and dark... but just somehow I knew that what I was going to see wasn't bad. It's hard to explain but it completely blows me away. Normally my parameters for games are: Have they used the 3D/Surround Sound well? Have they got memorable music? - But Little Nightmares II really changed my view and made me think: Has this game used its audio and sound design to help tell the story. In this case, it's a big fat YES!
The surround sound for this game is pretty standard and doesn't do anything special. The sound quality is slightly grainy and distorted. But these things actually add to the overall performance. As I said in the graphics section, the grainy sounds match the ethos set out in the game. As this game is a third-person/side view game, the surround sound just really isn't at all important for this game. I feel like, if you hooked this game up to an old Gameboy speak, it would still sound incredible.
Little Nightmare II's story, put simply, is confusing. Although, it feels like this is exactly what the developers were setting out for, from the very beginning. In fact, it's so confusing, that there are debates going ahead right now as we speak as to whether or not this game is a sequel or prequel to the previous game. I want to be clear though, it definitely does connect to the first game, but the stories told in such a way that you could place it either side of the first game, and it works... in fact, that alone is pretty crazy to even think.
The story of Little Nightmares II is quite simply charming, you adventure through its stages with your new best-friend "Six", being the very best of buddies and stopping each other from being eaten. It's simple in the offset. It's just when you get to its end stages, that things become a little weirder and hard to follow. I personally liked the ending and wanted to know more - But I could see some fans being completely annoyed by its vague and symbolic approach. What I would say is though - you aren't really enjoying this game for its story. The story is simply a nice added bonus - it's all about the gameplay, the experience of playing Little Nightmares II.
In summary, Little Nightmares II is a must-play. Its gameplay and audio design alone will carry players to the very end, giving you an experience that you just won't want to put down. The campaign will averagely take 4-6 hours for those who are experienced with the previous game and/or will rush through its stages, but will take around 8 hours to those completionists, or those new to the series. The graphics could be better, and the game running at 30fps on next-generation consoles leaves a bit of a sour taste in your mouth. However, even at 30fps, the game is incredibly stable, with some amazing frame timings, meaning that the game never feels sluggish or delayed. Little Nightmares II is a unique experience in the platformer world but gave me a game that was extremely good value for my money at full price.