Review: Little Nightmares II – Xbox

  • Developer: Tarsier Studios
  • Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO entertainment
  • Release Date: 11/02/2021
  • Price: £24.99 / $29.99
  • Available on: Xbox | PS4 | Nintendo Switch | PC
    Free next-gen updates to arrive at a later date
  • Review code provided by BANDAI NAMCO entertainment
  • Reviewed on: Xbox Series S

Introducing: Little Nightmares II Review

Nearly four years ago, the gaming community was able to relive our childhood nightmares in a platforming game by Tarsier Studios. Little Nightmares, despite its grotesque setting, was met with favourable reviews. I typically don’t stray into the “platforming” turf as it’s a genre I don’t usually do well with. I did, however, admire the game from afar by way of various trailers trumpeting its release on the Nintendo Switch. Now it seems I’ll have to go back and buy the first game of the series. If that doesn’t give you a hint on how my review of Little Nightmares II is going to go, stay tuned and let’s get into more detail.

We All Float Down Here

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Lost in a sprawling forest, you play as a young boy, Mono. Mono glares at an out of place television set in the middle of nowhere before setting off on a nearby path. Soon, Mono comes across a girl caged in a vicious hunter’s house. After making a daring rescue, the two protagonists make a break for it and search for greener pastures. A futile search, but it takes them to a seemingly abandoned city. It doesn’t take long to recognize Mono’s new friend as Six, the girl from the preceding game. Together they brave terrible nightmares in a cruel game of hide-and-seek.

Little Nightmares II excels at delivering a rich story without subtitles, dialogue or any form of traditional narration. Everything is pantomimed through the actions and expressions by the characters and surrounding setting. Though beautifully done, there are some drawbacks to hinging the entire story on only visuals and sound. During the majority of the game, I had no idea who the characters were, or what was happening to the world around them. Just as you solve little puzzles in the game, the truth becomes revealed piece by piece. Once they reached their destination and the final credits rolled, it made more sense. Even if it didn’t answer all of my questions.

Placing the story on the backburner is a daring move, but it certainly put more emphasis on the surrounding environment and every creepy movement and mysterious shadow. I didn’t have to worry about interruptions and could scurry from hiding spot to hiding spot. As Mono, you can hold Six’s hand. Did I hold her hand nearly the entire game to keep her safe? No! During my review time with Little Nightmares II, I held her hand to make myself feel safe. Don’t judge me!

I See Dead People

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Little Nightmares II is primarily a platforming game. That can be as deceptive as every shadowy figure you encounter though. It’s much much more than a platforming game. In fact, the platforming elements weren’t all that troublesome. For someone like me who strays from that genre, it was rather nice to have your character go or land where you want them to. There was a strong mix of puzzles to accompany the gameplay with an occasional dash of combat. The puzzles were well executed and creative. I enjoyed solving the variety of problems presented at nearly every turn. Most of the puzzles were pretty clear and keep you in the action with minimal diversion. It was a nice blend and I enjoyed nearly every moment.

The combat is where Little Nightmares II takes a step back. A small step but enough to pull me out of the creepy ambience it worked so hard to create. The aiming and movement system was too clunky to make any of the battles satisfying. As an extension, there’s a level where you use a flashlight to keep some horrors at bay. This portion was the only time I had to step away from the game out of frustration. When I returned the next day I was able to clear the area in two attempts, but the macabre factor had long worn off. Fortunately, the sour taste passed quickly and is rare enough of an occurrence that the game still shines in ghoulish horror.

The Dead will Walk the Earth

The art style justifiably carries Little Nightmares II. Every morbid setting and dark corner intones the horrors our imaginations conjured up at our youngest years. The scenes are darkly beautiful and made me question every step I took. It was hard not to pause and take in the detailed surroundings at fear they may leap out at you. Each location was a force all of its own which differed from the last. The creative team made great use of eerie backdrops that never felt redundant. It’s easy to see how art can convey such a powerful story.

Of course, the graphics are nothing without the right soundtrack. A good horror game relies heavily on music that can enthral its audience. The music in Little Nightmares II has the right hooks at the right times to amplify the tension.

Sometimes Dead is Better

Little Nightmares II was a crisp experience, a delight to review. There were a few technical flaws but none that rendered the game unplayable. Unless you count the clunky combat. Even that was manageable with a sliver of patience. There were a few areas where the characters would crop into the floor or enemies would unintentionally warp when they shouldn’t. I also ran into a key item that was in a spot it didn’t belong. Oftentimes, moving to another screen or resetting would fix these minor hiccups. These glitches were minimal and hardly dampened the ambience. Adding to the stellar onscreen performance was the timed vibrations in the controller. Hearing and feeling a heartbeat rise at nerve-racking moments was a great way to keep the player intertwined with the character they controlled.

Final Wrap

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Little Nightmares II was an overwhelmingly satisfying experience. The morose setting is best enjoyed by yourself in a quiet room at night. It was still a thrilling ride when I played during the day with my kids observing from the background. Despite witnessing only the final chapter, each of my children enjoyed their passive experience. Little Nightmares II plays up our fears as children and ties a great story into the journey at the same time. Several parallels could be made about the horrors we face in real life to what plays out on screen, but that’s a topic for another day. Little Nightmares II was such an impressive title that I can wholeheartedly recommend it to any gamer, regardless of your favourite genre. Now pardon me while I go play the first game.

Pros

  • Stunning Art Style
  • Impactful Music
  • Enjoyable Platforming and Puzzles

Cons

  • Clunky Combat
  • Minor glitches

Verdict
Little Nightmares II conjoins a poignant art style and a soundtrack to envelop the player in a morbid world of despair with gameplay that grips tightly to the end.