Little Nightmares II Presents a New Style Horror Sensation
There is one element of horror that we often see as a lazy way of building “fear”. That’s right, it’s a jump scare. The act of sudden visual or audio prompting in such an unpredictable situation lies in our eyes, on the blurred line between fear and surprise where the latter emotion, often predominates. Seeing how so many horror games employ a jump scare strategy like this, there is always a sense of appreciation for games that have succeeded in building fear and anxiety in other ways. Those who manage to make goosebumps from other elements, be it monster design, gameplay mechanics, or the overall atmosphere of the world that he stretches. The one who did it? Little Nightmares from Tarsier Studios.
After the success they achieved with their first series, reinforced by the mystery of the story and the world that remains, Little Nightmares II has indeed been confirmed for a long time. We had time to meet various trailers and screenshots to introduce a variety of new things that he will carry. One of the most significant additions is of course the presence of a new character named Mono – a boy in a paper bag mask seen working hand in hand with The Six, the protagonist in a yellow raincoat from the first Little Nightmares. After inviting such strong curiosity, we finally had the opportunity to try it.
One of the things we fell in love with? As we talked about earlier, Tarsier Studios seems to understand what makes Little Nightmares successful on the market. The horror sensation that continues to accompany you throughout the game does not come from the cheap Jump-Scare strategy, but through the creative design of a world that is always filled with mystery, scary and disgusting monster designs, gameplay mechanics that encourage anxiety, to fantastic sound designs. The good news? Everything you love about the first series you will still find in Little Nightmares II.
That just by playing it for 30 minutes, you can already catch the horror sensation that is getting rare. The design of The Hospital – which should have been a hospital in a normal world, alone has proven this. It was dark, full of cells indicating that an experiment was taking place inside, with no sign that it had time to contain humans in it. All you find along the way through these corridors are mannequin statues that come in various forms. Some are intact and sit in wheelchairs, some have lost limbs scattered all over the place, and some have experienced the replacement of limbs with objects that cannot be understood. It is a “crazy” world just like the first Little Nightmares.
On top of it, the sound design is fantastic again. At least through this gameplay session, Tarsier really understands the right timing to inject a little extra background music to make goosebumps or let the silence dominate so that you mentally keep trying to guess and prepare yourself for what happened. The music chosen also comes with a mysterious and heavy sense of musical instrument friction, which reinforces the impression that this is not a world that works in a way that you understand. The rest? Sound effects that have an effect that is no less effective. Amidst silent sounds, objects falling from a height, hammers that you drag and rub against the floor, or simply the screeching and motion of creatures chasing you, all are presented in optimal quality. Of course, we recommend a headset for enjoying this game, something that was obvious in our short demo session.
Admittedly, the panic and goosebumps we feel for this franchise are on a new level when tasting this short demo. One of them comes from a new type of enemy that comes with mechanics ready to make you scream like a girl. At one point, the mannequins that you find so many at The Hospital’s level start to randomly move. You don’t know which mannequins will move, you don’t know how fast they are going, and you have a hard time anticipating the distance before they pounce on and kill you. Weapons to deter them? Light! That the only thing that can temporarily stop their motion is Mono’s tiny flashlight whose direction of light you can aim. Now imagine if these mannequins came together from all directions, demanding you start prioritizing where your light should go!
With all these elements combined, Little Nightmares II manages to do two cool things with this short demo, at least for us. First, it retains the atmosphere-based mystery and horror elements you loved from the first series. Second? Offers new and different things that are ready to amplify that feeling and will give your hair the goosebumps constantly. It only took 30 minutes for this game to convince us of that.
Mono & Six
If you follow the various trailers and screenshots that are released, you seem to have understood that the perspective of the Little Nighmares II story will no longer be conveyed through the action of Six alone. You will officially be accompanied by a new character who is just as cute, in the mask of a paper bag, and officially bears the name Mono. Although this demo session doesn’t talk much about the background story of this character, the whole game session will make Mono the main character. Of course, you will be accompanied by Six.
Even though it comes with a two-character system, at least in this demo session, Little Nightmares II is not a cooperative game or a single-player game built with a real-time character changing system a la LEGO game for example. Based on the story, you will only control one character with the rest of the characters controlled by AI. In this session of The Hospital, Mono was the focus.
The core of the game remains centered on the action of platforming – finding a way to get to the next location, where the challenge can simply ask you to find a proper path like ducking or climbing. But there is also a session where the next area will only open if you manage to beat the enemy in the same area. Mono does not have any weapons, but he has the opportunity to use specific objects that can be found in the area. As an example? When fighting an enemy in the form of a mannequin hand that moves on its own and likes to pounce, Mono can drag a hammer and swing it as a weapon to subdue it. But again, this hammer you will not be able to “save”. You won’t be able to drag it wherever you want, given the level restriction which will require you to inevitably have to let go.
So, what about Six? Controlled by the AI, Six will still contribute to the whole game with some of the action taking place automatically. Are there locations that Mono can’t reach with his manual hops? You will usually find Six ready to give you a jump boost to get there. One thing that is surprising enough for us? When this AI is also designed in such a way that it feels quite adaptive to your needs. As an example? There are situations where a door requires two different keys, where one key is already installed to open the door to open the area to the second key. When the puzzle has been completed and the second key has been obtained, Six’s AI will automatically pull, pick up, and carry the first key to the puzzle solving location. Honestly, we thought we had to walk back and forth twice just picking up the key. Approach like this, a little relief and builds a sense of optimism for the AI that you will encounter in the full version later.
Little Nightmares II of course will also be supported with several new command input to accommodate this two character system. First, you now have a Call button. With just one button press, Mono will shout softly to call Six to approach him if needed. Making this sound can also be just a “friend” if you start to get scared because of the feeling of silence that might dominate your playing session too much. Second? Using the grab button, you can join hands with Six. You can lead Six to the location you want, a preventive measure if the AI does run into trouble and doesn’t reactively follow where you should go. Anything else? This hand pull system also reacts differently depending on the position in which you trigger it. If you are too hasty and lead Six with the hand you normally hold the flashlight in, your flashlight will continue to aim at the ground instead of lighting in the direction you need.
Extra appreciation also deserves to be directed at the checkpoint system which in this demo session is also considered friendly. Given that most of the threats you encounter will finish you off with one hit / animation, this is certainly a feature that deserves to be welcomed with open arms. From the entire demo session that we sampled, maybe there was only one session where the journey to repeat the progress was quite “long” and therefore annoying. But the rest, he is friendly.
Little Nightmares II, Is It Worth It?
Two thumbs up goes to Tarsier Studios and Bandai Namco for the experience they managed to create for us through this short demo session. You can feel a horror approach similar to the first series, where the sensation of fear, anxiety, and goosebumps doesn’t just rely on the jump-scare sensation.
All these sensations are more effectively created because of the strange world, creatures that are ready to hunt you in various angles with sound effects that are so shaking the hair of the neck, in the middle of the gameplay that will always make you feel vulnerable. This 30-minute demo presents a testament to the sweet attention and execution that Tarsier Studios has so far managed to prove sweetly. If there’s one complaint worth talking about? It still feels more comfortable to play with a controller on a PC, instead of mouse + keyboard considering you also have to control the direction of the flashlight when needed with the d-pad buttons outside the motion keys, which means taking up two of your hands on the keyboard. When you are required to jump and hold something with the mouse1, survive the fight switching buttons as fast as you can in the middle of a panic situation.
This 30-minute demo succeeded in convincing us that for gamers who loved the first Little Nightmares, there is no reason not to look forward to this second series, especially if you love the atmosphere-based horror sensation that it carries. Little Nightmares II itself is planned to be released on February 11, 2021 for the Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Nintendo Switch, and of course – PC.