Little Nightmares 2 Preview: These Kids Are Far From Alright

I’ve been looking forward to Little Nightmares 2 as I’m not only a fan of the first game, but also a fan of this bizarre little sub-genre of atmospheric platformers where children are continually placed into perilous situations. It’s a genre that doesn’t have a ton of representation as the most prominent titles that come to mind are Playdead’s Limbo and Inside, these Little Nightmares games, and maybe Eric Chahi’s Heart Of Darkness from 1998. I guess developers aren’t big on making games that focus on child murder. That’s a shame.

I got to play a few levels of Little Nightmares 2. After spending a few hours with it I think it’s safe to say that if you like seeing kids put in constant, life-threatening danger then boy howdy are you going to love this.

Much like its predecessor, Little Nightmares 2 is a 2.5D platformer where you guide a small child away from the grubby hands of a cast of deformed, cannibalistic adults. In this one, you play as a bag-wearing boy who has some kind of psychic connection to a TV. According to the game’s Steam page, this kid’s name is Mono and he’s seeking to put a stop to a signal that’s coming from these television sets. Of course, that doesn’t really come across in the game itself as there usually isn’t a straight-forward narrative in these types of games. It’s more of a series of unfortunate events where your child protagonist enters a new spooky building, encounters an insane person, and then has to figure out how to escape without being brutally murdered or eaten.

Honestly, the lack of dialogue or exposition makes the experience of playing Little Nightmares 2 so much better. The environmental story-telling here is so good that it’s easy to become invested. There’s clothing strewn about a city that almost looks like the people wearing them just vanished. There are traps set up everywhere but you have no idea where they came from. Horrifying portraits of characters are on the walls that will have you wondering if everyone in this world is some kind of malformed mutant. Each location is full of details that make you ask questions and demand answers. Obviously, you won’t get those answers and you’ll actually wind up with even more questions, but that’s part of the fun.

The very first thing I noticed about this game is that it’s absolutely gorgeous. It looks like a Tim Burton-inspired stop-motion film if it was being made by David Cronenberg. Everything appears like it could have been sculpted from clay and delicately placed within the game. The animations of the characters are smooth, gruesome, and full of personality. Most impressive of all is the lighting. There’s one part where you see a hunter working at his bench as light pours into the room around him through a window. It looks incredible yet terrifying since it helps to highlight the fact that he’s working on some kind of Frankenstein-esque stuffed human to add to his “family.”

The levels themselves are very detailed and full of death traps for you to stumble into. Initially, I thought the game might be a little unfair with its deaths as there were many that came out of nowhere that you couldn’t have prepared for. However, Little Nightmares 2 seems to be a game that demands your undivided attention as there are subtle clues that warn you about incoming danger. A piece of the scenery will be out of place or an object will be there to give you a hint about what to expect. There were some moments that felt cheap – there’s a leap of faith early on that almost requires dying to figure out how to get across – but you respawn quickly and not too far from where you perished so it was never discouraging.

One thing that I love in this series is the designs of the monstrous adults themselves. The bulbous, fleshy cooks of Little Nightmares still stand out to me as some of the best and most underrated baddies in horror game history. Based on what I’ve played so far, Little Nightmares 2 may be aiming to top itself when it comes to creating grotesque new grown-ups to run from.

There’s a section of the game that takes place within a dilapidated school. The students are all chattering, doll-headed little demons, and their teacher has one of the most bizarre talents I’ve ever witnessed in a game. I’m not going to spoil anything about this part as it truly needs to be seen to be believed. All I know is that the people who made this game must have a bad time during their school days.

Little Nightmares 2 is visually stunning, but what really deserves mentioning is the sound design. It adds so much to the atmosphere. The wind rustling in the trees, the creaking of floorboards, the loud shattering of glass when you knock over a jar, etc. The music drones on in the background and does a great job of creating anxiety. Then a pleasant piano tune will come out of nowhere that somehow makes things even creepier than before. Every sound drives up the tension of the game and makes you fear going into the next room.

The gameplay should be familiar to anyone that’s played the original title or Playdead’s similar child-murder simulator, Inside. There’s lots of running, jumping, hiding, and interacting with objects. In between the sections where you’re fleeing for your life are stealth sequences and puzzles to be solved. There also seems to be a small bit of combat added into Little Nightmares 2. There are moments where you can grab a stick or an ax and use it to bust down doors or fight off the aforementioned evil students. You can’t go around doing elaborate combos and you’ll eventually reach a point where you need to drop whatever weapon you’ve found, but I found it interesting that this game is giving you more opportunities to defend yourself.

You also spend a significant amount of time with a little girl that you rescue in the first area. She helps you by giving you a boost to higher levels, opening doors, turning cranks, and other actions. At one point she even began jumping on a piano to distract an enemy. She helps make the game feel a little less lonely and I imagine it will be heartbreaking when one of you dies or betrays the other.

It all handles well, although I thought the climbing controls were a little wonky. It can be hard to tell if you’re climbing up the right part of a wall and it gets awkward if you need to jump off or climb around something. Gauging how close a platform is or if your character is in the right position to make a jump can be tricky. I chalk this up to the pseudo-3D perspective, which has caused similar issues in other games. It didn’t really dampen my enjoyment all that much but it did lead to some deaths that felt undeserved.

This game simply looks and sounds phenomenal. The environments are more varied than the gloomy cruise ship locales of the original, the new adults are terrifying, and I found myself very intrigued to find out how the events of the first title tie into this one. February 11th can’t come soon enough as I’m excited to see how these poor kids meet their end again and again. It’s going to be the perfect game to play with your loved one around Valentine’s Day as you can both cuddle up on the couch, pour some wine, and wonder what kind of a sick person thinks up these horrible things.

NEXT: Fight Club: Limbo Vs. Little Nightmares – Which Is The Scarier Game

  • Game Previews
  • Little Nightmares
  • Little Nightmares II

Jamie Latour is a writer and actor based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. From his hyperactive childhood to his….Well, still hyperactive adulthood, he’s been writing and performing in some capacity for practically his entire life. His love for video games goes all the way back to the age of 4, playing Mega Man 3 for the first time on his NES. He’s an avid gamer and can be found nowadays either messing around in Red Dead 2, or being cheap as can be as Reaper in Overwatch. He’s still starting out when it comes to making online content, but aside from his writing he can found on his Twitch page under the handle SpontaneousJames. You can also find him on social media as @SpontaneousJam on Twitter (because Spontaneous James was too long apparently).

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