‘Little Nightmares II’ review: it takes two to make a nightmare come true

From the dark, artistic and exciting arrival of Little nightmares In 2017, I was waiting for the follow-up from Tarsier Studios. It was a breath of Cool fetid air in a veritable smorgasbord of similarities within the world of video games. Little nightmares It wasn’t the first side-scrolling puzzle platformer with an emphasis on stealth, and it wasn’t the only one with a compelling story to tell (see also Limbo, Insideand similar titles.) But he did introduce an astonishingly fantastic art style and macabre atmosphere to each painting, all explored, feast or famine, by Six, dressed in a bright yellow raincoat. And while the role of the mysterious character in the story (past, present and future) could have been left to the imagination (or, well, maybe just a couple of chapters of DLC), now we have a second help. to satisfy our curiosity with Little Nightmares II.

The first thing I looked for when collecting this follow-up was consistency in the art style, character design and mechanics of the first game; don’t mess with success. I am happy to say that Little Nightmares II you are successful across the board with all of the above. Each scene is a painting, although it may not be one that you would really like to hang on your dining room wall, this title is beautiful in its grotesqueness. I love. So much so that I chose the deluxe edition to get access to the artwork (and the soundtrack … and an additional hat, simply for the sake of fashion).

Mono, the player’s new character this time around, has a similar move and tech to Six, with one exception. Monkey has the ability to pick up quite large weapons (axes, pipe wrenches, hammers) in relation to the tiny sizes of the characters. With these, Mono can break down barriers, hit lesser enemies, and even complete puzzle sequences. However, the Big Bads will still give you just one shot. There is no health bar in Little Nightmares IIbut fortunately there is a super fast loading screen when dying. Expect to die a lot but get a little frustrated.

Image via Tarsier Studios, Bandai Namco Entertainment

And speaking of frustrations, the follow-up seems to suffer from some of the same setbacks as the original. The movement mechanics aren’t as sharp as it could be, leading you to calibrate your own inputs as needed to time your stealth steps, jumps, runs, and glides correctly. (Don’t get me started with how crazy the punching mechanics are when Monkey must dispatch smaller enemies like porcelain-headed puppet children, who will also shoot you if the timing is not right.) Beyond that, the only other frustrations come with how relatively simple the puzzles are. I ended up overthinking most of them along the way and frustrated myself for trying to add complexity where the “keep it simple, stupid” approach was more than enough. Don’t be like me; test the doorknob before mounting an overly complex Rube Goldberg machine.

I often blamed the backgrounds, characters, animations and generally fascinating aesthetic from Little Nightmares II for distracting so much that I didn’t want to leave a scene behind. It is as atmospheric as the original game, although the strength of the visual metaphor does not shine as starkly in this story. In Little nightmaresSix had to fight his way through the Maw, a kind of massive underwater complex that caters to those with insatiable appetites, whatever they may be. That theme had a strong trajectory from start to finish, especially the end. Little Nightmares IIHowever, it takes players through various layers of the Pale City, from the forested outskirts to the sloping coastal city with its schools, hospitals, and outposts in due course, but the meaning here is less obvious. Televisions litter this seemingly post-apocalyptic world, or perhaps a world saturated to the point of being rendered obsolete by its own vices. Mono can use these televisions in unexpected ways, which the city dwellers do not like. Beyond that, however, Little Nightmares II is more about the relationship between Mono and Six.

Image via Tarsier Studios, Bandai Namco Entertainment

You may have noticed, dear reader, that I call Little Nightmares II a follow-up title rather than a sequel. That’s because this story will keep you guessing if this is, in fact, a sequel or something else entirely; I won’t spoil it here. But those story rhythms were pleasant surprises along the way, things that diverted my attention from the puzzles long enough for a snake-headed teacher to eat them or a wild hunter to shoot me. I was very invested with the story of the hand of Mono and Six, and your game will be much better if you are too. But Little Nightmare IIThe focus on the inner journey of the characters feels a bit detached from the outer events that threaten their well-being; not as one to one as the original Little nightmares. It is not all in one piece. I feel like this game suffers a bit in its storytelling due to that disconnect. Six’s journey was to traverse the Maw and survive, a gripping story that told us almost everything we needed to know about the mysterious character. Mono’s story, however, is told more as a reflection of Six’s own story, relegating him to a supporting character despite being the one with agency. It’s not a bad decision, but it’s less powerful when it comes to connecting with the character. Y the history.

Having said that, Little Nightmares II it is still a game that deserves to be played, at least as much as its predecessor. They are part of the same package, the same franchise, the same science. And I love everything about that world and the characters that comprise it, even if I sometimes disagree with their decisions. If there is a Little Nightmares IIII’d still be on board, because my appetite hasn’t been satiated yet. But Little Nightmares II is a good main course in this continuous meal (… or is it just an appetizer?)

Grade: B-

Image via Tarsier Studios, Bandai Namco Entertainment

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