Developer: Tarsier Studios Publisher: Bandai Namco
On all platforms
Little Nightmares 2 is a game that I have very much been eager to play ever since I stumbled on the original title during a sale. Without much prior knowledge about the series, I was overwhelming blown away by the eerie atmosphere, puzzle mechanics and heartfelt story that is told in such a creepy packaging. Its sequel doesn’t disappoint in the slightest – if anything it improve on the recipe from the first, whilst adding in more plot dynamics and fine tuning the platforming/puzzle format. I will be cautious within the review not to spoil the story within the game, as fans of the series will enjoy the tale told within. The only thing I will touch on in regards to the story, is that it ties in perfectly with the first game and you will go away with a few questions to ponder.
Starting the game inside a dark, hollowed woodlands as a new little person walking alone. It is not long before you find yourself a beautiful bag to hide your face, as well as a little helper friend. Your new friend controls themselves, which I preferred because moving two characters at once can sometimes detract from the gameplay and the AI within the game was able to keep up and not burden itself by becoming trapper against invisible rubble or generally moving like a snail. Two characters however changes the dynamics within the game, opening up the puzzles intricacies, allowing for solutions to have multiple steps in order to solve them. The developers spent their time on the tag team elements, smoothing out transitions within the platforming and puzzle elements, making sure the AI is responsive to your actions and recognising when they need to be helpful, without providing any hints. There was only one moment of frustration, as my new friend continuously picked up objects unhelpfully, whilst I charged about in a moment of thinking time as a puzzle got the better of me for a few moments. I had to keep wrestling things from them and drag them along to prevent reoccurring incidents.
Atmosphere is definitely the defining feature of these games. The developers have done a tremendous job of creating an aura of complete desperation and bleakness, by utilising the soundtrack, lighting and level design. What I love about all of these, is that the game is never in your face and will often take the more subtle root. This works beautifully, as the focus is always on the main character within the game, never taking your feeling away from them as they clamber, crawl and dash away from the many dangers they face on their journey. This game definitely improves on the level design from the first, taking the more quieter route at times, where as the first was more disgusting and horrible at times. My favourite and by far nerve wrecking potion, was during the hospital section with the mannequins. Your lonely torch is your best friend during this portion and I am glad I wasn’t my character. My hands would be far too clammy to hold a torch and would be dead meat in moments.
By definition this title is a puzzle platformer, and an extremely brilliant on at that. I am discovering more and more that these smaller indie studios are excelling at fine tuning their games to work wonderfully within their genres. The platforming has been improved in this game, with your character jumping, crawling, climbing, etc with fluid ease. There was hardly a moment that I ever felt punished by the controls themselves or poorly placed obstacles; it was usually down to human error and with a few tries I would succeed. The same can be said about the puzzles too. The developers have created a selections of puzzles that never felt too challenging or were too obscure in their solutions but at the same time were perfectly difficult to feel a sense of reward on completion. There are a wide selection of puzzles within the game so no two puzzles ever feel similar. My favourite set of puzzles involve TVs but I will let you discover that for yourselves.
Overall, the developers at Tarsier Studios have done a magnificent job with the continuation of the Little Nightmare series, with the second instalment improving on the original in every way possible. I f you haven’t yet to play these game, then I would highly recommend them both to you. I would give this game a 5/5!