LITTLE NIGHTMARES II
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on February 17, 2021
We all had nightmares when we were little, am I right? Running from some boogeyman that we just couldn't get away from, no matter how fast we ran. Or falling to our deaths from great heights. Or having to make your way through a dark, creepy house with danger lurking in the dark shadows. Luckily, we got bigger, but the memories of these little nightmares just never seem to go away completely...
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls; it is time to return to the eerie, grim and thoroughly dangerous world of Little Nightmares with the release of Little Nightmares II, a brand new horror-puzzle-adventure, developed by Swedish developer Tarsier Studios and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. In this second installment in the Little Nightmare series, we get to play the role of Mono, a silent boy protagonist who, together with Six, the little girl from the first Little Nightmare game, must traverse various harrowing environments to escape the nightmares that are out to get them. Will they make it, or will they succumb to the ever-present darkness and its evil minions? Well, I guess you'll just have to play the game for yourself if you want to find out!
As we meet up with our tiny protagonist, he is making his way through a dark forest. Eventually, he comes to a creepy wooden house, where he finds Six locked up in a room. The girl runs away from him first, which is not totally strange because, for some reason, Mono wears a paper bag over his head at the time, but the two quickly join forces and work together to overcome otherwise insurmountable challenges. After a narrow escape from a shotgun wielding nightmare man, they jump on a door-turned-raft and sail across a vast sea. When they reach dry land, they find themselves in the Pale City, where the beachfront property looks positively less than appealing and discarded old televisions make up a lot of the street scenery. This, dear readers, is where their real adventure begins.
As Mono and Six walk through the buildings and alleys of the Pale City, they notice something strange. All the people have seem to disappeared, yet their clothes are left behind, as if the people that were wearing them at them time simply evaporated. Well, so far, so creepy. Luckily, Mono and Six are together, which makes things easier. But, as per usual in horror tales, things turn sour not long thereafter. You see, while making their way through a dilapidated school, Six is kidnapped by a band of child-like dolls and Mono is left to save her from their porcelain clutches. This means making his way through eerie halls and keeping away from the Headmistress (who is a true credit to her name...) and her porcelain students. Now, the headmistress can't be defeated, so you'll have to avoid her gaze at all times, but her students can be dispatched by hitting them over the head with certain objects, like big sticks, a ladle or a sledgehammer.
Now, I'm not going to tell you what else our dynamic duo will have to face during their adventure, because that would spoil the fun of actually playing the game, but let's just say that over-active porcelain children are among the least of their worries. The fact that there are now two protagonists adds a whole new level to this Little Nightmares adventure. For instance, Six can help Mono out by giving him a leg up in order to reach ledges he wouldn't normally be able to reach by himself. Or she can catch him when he's jumping over a wide gap. This is a very cool mechanic that adds something extra to the game. You get used to it really fast and when you're separated from Six, it really feels more lonely than ever before. I loved this addition and I can only say: Well done developers!
Along the way, Mono can find and collect hats, that can be equipped in the pause menu, replacing his paper bag. This adds a collecting element to the game and it's great fun to find all the various hats the people at Tarsier Studios have come up with. You should also keep an eye out for tiny child-shaped glitching remains. These shadowy silhouettes can be collected by having Mono walk right through them. Collecting them all awards you with an additional scene at the end of the game, so be sure to look for them during your travels. A third recurring thing you'll come across are TV sets. Some of these turn on when Mono is near and this is when he can try to enter the TV set and use it as a portal. This means you must walk up to the TV and tune it to the right wavelength. I played the game on PC with an Xbox Controller so, to do this, I had to push the left thumbstick in the desired direction until the signal "clicked". When successfully tuning the TV set, Mono enters its digital domain and finds himself in a hallway with a door at the end. Before he can reach the door, however, he is pulled back by Six, who remained outside of the digital word of the TV.
I really love playing Little Nightmares 2. It has the right look and feel for a horror platform puzzle game and its atmosphere sucks you right into its dark and grim world. The controls work just fine, accept maybe when trying to fight multiple smaller enemies with a stick or a pipe or something like that. It is at these times that things feel a bit sluggish. Mind you, this is the way the game is built, to enhance your feeling of helplessness and remind you that you're playing as a kid, not a superhero. I mean, if you were able to whip out a set of mighty weapons and start bashing in everything but the kitchen sink like everybody's favorite god of war, Kratos, then the enemies in Little Nightmares 2 wouldn't stand a chance which, in turn, would destroy the game's feel. And it's this feeling of vulnerability and weakness that makes this game into what it is; a really, REALLY good horror platform adventure!
I can heartily recommend Little Nightmares 2 to everyone who loves creepy settings, weird enemies and challenging puzzle platformers. See, sometimes nightmares aren't all bad; sometimes, just sometimes, they can actually be awesome!