A haunted boat… A silent girl in a yellow raincoat… The dreaded Janitor and the mysterious Lady…
This is a summary of the 2017 indie hit Little Nightmares, a horror/puzzle game that was set on the prison boat of The Maw. It was a game that I discovered a year later after finding it in a second-hand shop, and I immediately fell in love with it. It was creepy, challenging, and fun. So when the sequel was announced back in 2019, I eagerly awaited its arrival, hoping that it would be just as good, if not better, than its predecessor.
Little Nightmares II follows Mono, a mysterious and small human-like creature, as he journeys through horrifying landscapes with Six by his side. Together, they must discover the source of an evil transmission that has trapped them in a distorted, TV-like world.
Despite the difference in story, the aspects that made the first game fun to play have returned. The puzzles given to Mono and Six start off simple, letting players become comfortable with the controls before throwing them straight into a chase-and-hide sequence designed to utilize every part of the control scheme—all in the first 10 minutes of the game! From there, the puzzles and chase sequences become more challenging as the game progresses and, once you master the control scheme, these aspects can be really satisfying to play.
It’s also a sequel that’s self-aware in terms of its gameplay; it knows it’s a sequel and assumes players will have experienced the first game. Therefore, it doesn’t spoon-feed players information as much as the first game does, but still provides subtle hints if a player gets stuck on a puzzle. Speaking fo controls, while Little Nightmares II is playable with a PC keyboard and mouse, I would advise following the game’s instructions and use a controller; you’d be doing your fingers a favour!
In this game, Mono and Six must travel and work together on their journey, meaning that they stick together throughout the majority of the game. This is an aspect that I found the most enjoyable. While I always found the puzzles thought-provoking and challenging in Little Nightmares, Little Nightmares II has added an extra layer with the inclusion of Six. She will either help Mono get to high places that can’t otherwise be reached, help him push heavy objects in order to get on top of them, or take the lead during moments where they have to sneak past any monsters. The latter also helps as a hint in case the player gets stuck on a solution—something that happened to me multiple times! It was also delightful(?) to see Six return (although I started to change my mind about this as the story went on). I’ve always liked that she’s mysterious and quiet, meaning players have more questions about her than answers by the end of the first game. And while Little Nightmares II gives us answers to this particular story, it was still great to see her return. Playing through this does make me wish that a 2-player mode would be added, though.
While puzzles are to be expected in this game, horror is too, and Little Nightmares II welcomes that factor with open, mutated arms! Because of the game’s symbolism in addressing people’s addiction to TV and, in this case, sacrificing their flesh and blood to the media, it’s no surprise that there is some gruesome imagery included. However, it only appears when it needs to, in order to progress the story or to add more depth to a scene or location, creating horrifying but memorable pictures. Once again, the game seems to take visual inspiration from films like Spirited Away and Coraline, creating a familiar yet interesting experience. The player can’t help but want to explore, even if the environment turns their stomachs.
As well as the gruesome imagery, Little Nightmares II is home to some incredibly tense moments. Sneaking around monsters and completing tasks behind their backs are common and it’s just as stressful doing these in the third act as it is in the beginning of the game. The monsters are scary and, due to Mono and Six’s size, they tower over the two. And it’s not just the monsters that are huge: the entire world of Little Nightmares II is massive, making the player feel as small as the lead characters are.
Little Nightmares II is exactly what I wanted from the sequel. As a fan of the original, it’s a relief to see that the aspects that made its predecessor so fantastic have not been removed but expanded upon. The inclusion of Six means that puzzles are now bigger and more challenging, and the areas are perfectly built around this two-character mechanic. The horror and tense elements that featured heavily in the original game have also returned and are just as scary and horrifying as ever! Fans of Little Nightmares will love this latest entry—so dim the lights and get ready for a new world of nightmares!