Earlier in 2020, we had a chance to sit down and experience our first look at Little Nightmares II and boy, was it an unexpected litany of distress compacted into one small preview. The excellence demonstrated within the title’s trials of turmoil is artistically executed with its carefully crafted universe that delivers the player no hope of survival. The aesthetic of its bleak nature envelopes the nature of this telling campaign from its onset, but hides many moments that no doubt aims to challenge you morally, and mentally. The depiction of certain risqué elements being exposed to a young child is a tough sight to behold, especially if you are in control of our young protagonist. But for the devout that absolutely adored this horrific puzzle-platformer in its first iteration, you’re in for an absolute treat.
I’m unsure how much I can relay in this preview, but a demo has just been released on the XBOX and PlayStation store so it’s safe to assume that I can share some events that transpire there. The first few hours imposed a looming threat upon its hazy horizon. With every supposed impasse came the expected freight that was creatively meshed into different puzzles. Bear-traps look to bite chunks into our terrified lead, with a sense of accomplishment reigning over the anxiety of defeat. Our little hero’s depressive demeanour tries his inquisitive personality in exploration, as Mono desperately sprints and scales his way through this perilous platformer. The volatile visions crafted by developer Tarsier Studios, are certainly what its descriptive titular purpose encapsulates.
Through the two chapters I was able to complete in this preview, I was chased down by a Hunter, wielding a firearm which made for some serious scurrying in hopes of finding sanctuary. The haunted hills of the smoggy forest harnesses a juxtaposition of innocence and hopelessness. The dire circumstance of our tiny protag’s fight for freedom is thwarted with unimaginable obstructions within a lush environment that’s overlay rather deems to pose an unsettling welcome. A panic-inducing composition of both deathly impediments and the inciting gunman leave a bold impression on what’s to come. Avoiding confrontation or sudden death was dreadful. The flurry of emotions that had me scathing, literally sweating while I hid in the tall grass for the hunter to vanish. A precarious moment within this scenario was when the irate chaser began firing his gun while I ran as fast as I could until hiding behind multiple objects in hopes he would ignore me.
The second chapter takes us to school and if there was anything I took away from this one, there’s still much to be taught about in the way Little Nightmares II can frighten your very core. I was not expecting to take pause breaks playing this chapter, thinking that the opening was an example, a template for what was to come. I was wrong, my fears grew and the tension rose making for a palpable playthrough. The appearance of what I presume would be the school’s librarian or headmaster, was one of the eeriest demonstrations in gaming I have ever witnessed. As you try your best to avoid being an unintended nuisance in the scholar’s hallowed hauls, numerous puzzles may point out deadly scenarios that have the antagonist searching for our hero in multiple rooms.
The headmaster’s ghoulish presence is elevated by her disfigurement, most notably her neck that extends beyond normality in any sense. She coils herself around towers of books as you climb to safety avoiding the her incredibly alarming presence. Akin to a Resident Evil like narrative, without the bloodshed or violence, her unwanted companionship – if you could call it that – sent chills up my spine and certainly had the hairs on my arms standing. As you progress, you are introduced to a brand new protagonist in our campaign, however she remains more a protégé than a playable partner. Alleviating pressures of hazardous puzzles, and showing a helping hand in red-taped predicaments makes “Six” an important member of our courageous couple. Boosting Mono above tall ledges, adding weight to sturdy levers, and essentially playing a game of “Simon Says” in predicaments that call for it skew Little Nightmares perspective and gives a fresh take from its initial entry.
Little Nightmares II will no doubt be a cornerstone release for gamers that love a good scare, an artistic approach, and a trying platformer that encroaches you with each riveting standoff. You’re going to need some time and patience to get through some of its deadlock moments, and endure a ton of horrifying displays within its campaign. Walking away from this preview, I can certainly say that I was enthralled by this follow-up to the critically acclaimed 2017 smash hit. From Limbo and Inside, the amalgamation of the aforementioned placed into such a steadfast yet bleak territory that terrorises the mindset of immersion, which breaks so suddenly that it aims to shock and has a sense of pleasantry that may remain unmatched throughout 2021. I cannot wait to play Little Nightmares II, it’s sure to be an exceptionally erratic encounter.
Little Nightmares II releases for XBOX Series X, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch and PC on February 11, 2021.
Little Nightmares II - Bandai Namco
Little Nightmares 2 is an upcoming puzzle-platformer horror adventure game developed by Tarsier Studios and being produced by Bandai Namco Entertainment.