Children have always had an air of innocence surrounding them that’s hard to break. But throw a child in a bleak, twisted world devoid of all life and they’re bound to break. Little Nightmares II attempts to take your inner child on a journey full of adversity, despair and little bit of hope, succeeding beyond its wildest dreams. With the help of some excellent visual storytelling, innovative puzzle design and a beautifully crafted world, Tarsier Studios has created an absolute masterpiece of a game.
In Little Nightmares II, you play as Mono, a small child with a paper bag over his head. Accompanied by Six, the protagonist from the first game, you must find your path in this dark, dead world, surviving the trials put before you while growing the bond between Mono and Six. Gameplay is a mixture of platforming, puzzle solving, and some light combat elements.
Your companion Six isn’t just there for moral support either. She will actively help you, including giving you hints to some of the more complicated puzzles. Six goes beyond just a simple AI companion that follows you around. Through each challenge you overcome, she subtly changes, developing something akin to a personality. Watching these two bond as they experience the horrors surrounding them provides brief moments of light in this dark setting. Even without any dialogue, you can feel the friendship between the two.
The world surrounding these two, while bleak, is beautiful to behold. There’s a staggering amount of detail put into the environment. Each new locale adds a new note to the mystery surrounding the world. Simply walking from point A to B has you moving at a snail’s pace, taking in every detail around you, waiting for the next horror to appear. While I wish environments were more varied, the locations you visit all feel different in their own right, always providing a fresh new idea to each room that you visit.
Visuals aren’t the only way that Little Nightmares II conveys its tense atmosphere. A simple yet effective soundtrack is present throughout the entire game. Being chased by some unknown horror will have a striking, dissonant tune play in the background. On the other hand, the more suspenseful moments will have complete silence, with nothing but horrifying noises of the creature you’re facing. Music plays a role in some of the puzzles as well, meaning you always need to keep an ear open.
Puzzles blend seamlessly into the level design. It never feels like you need to stop to solve a specific puzzle. Rather, you only need to figure out the details of your surroundings in order to proceed. Each puzzle feels unique, with each chapter adding a new major mechanic to your puzzle solving. Some of the puzzles go beyond simply getting from one place to another and even incorporate what feels like boss fights. These moments are what truly sets the game apart from others. While you could call them fights, it usually breaks down into a desperate attempt to hide from some nightmarish creature, tearing the room apart just to find you. This is all while the controller steadily vibrates to the rhythm of a beating heart, reminding you of this bleak world.
Tarsier Studios has created a dark and depressing world like no other. A gripping tale of adversity that has you begging for more. Little Nightmares II is the light at the end of the tunnel that you never knew you needed.
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