If you’re anything like me, you’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of Little Nightmares II ever since it was first announced. Little Nightmares was a game that deserved every bit of praise that was showered upon it, with its gruesome environment, elaborate story-telling, and fun gameplay. It’s fair to say that expectations for the sequel are high.
Little Nightmares II focuses on Mono, a young boy who hides his face behind a paper bag and whose actions reveal him to be a protective and kind child, in spite of the gruesome world he lives in. After a brief nightmare-like sequence, Mono awakens alone in the wilderness next to a TV that quickly flickers off. The first sign of another, besides the bear traps and corpses, is a solitary cabin. When Mono first stumbles upon the cabin, the only sign of life is the eerie sound of a familiar song coming from the basement. Curiosity gets the better of Mono as he wanders into the basement and discovers a small girl sitting alone, slowly winding a music box.
The song betrays the identity of the captive girl: it’s Six’s theme, and while her trademark raincoat is absent, it is in fact Six being held in this basement. You aren’t given much time to ponder the situation before Six barrels past you and flees up the stairs. Mono follows her but upon climbing back up the stairs it is discovered the pair are no longer alone. The cabin’s lone resident, The Hunter, has returned. For the rest of the level, Mono and Six must work together to escape him as he pursues the two ever deeper into the wilderness.
The entirety of the first game was confined to the Maw – a massive vessel that catered to a grotesque clientele. But the Maw’s existence works in parallel to the world, not as a contrast. Upon escaping the wilderness, Mono and Six enter the Pale City. Many of the residents of the city have vanished with only their clothes remaining, and those that remain are faceless beings that are entranced by a broadcast that is being controlled by The Thin Man – the main antagonist of Little Nightmares II.
By branching outside of the Maw, Little Nightmares II gives a wider look at the world as a whole. For me, experiencing the world and learning more about the inhabitants of it is the biggest draw of the Little Nightmare games. Little Nightmares II does a great job of expanding the lore of the previous game with a new environment, new characters, and a larger setting. It doesn’t hurt things that, in spite of the eerie creepiness of the Pale City, it is incredibly beautiful in a melancholic way.
Currently, Little Nightmares II will have minor differences depending on which version of the Xbox you are playing on. The Xbox One X and Xbox Series X will feature upscaled 4K resolutions and some faster loading times and visual effects, but a true Xbox Series X version is in the works for later this year. But we will need to wait for more details on that.
I played on the Xbox One X and it is a beautiful game, and I had no issues with loading or running the game. The only issue I ever came across was a minor graphical glitch when I was captured by an enemy. It lasted all of two seconds and beyond that I didn’t encounter any other issues.
I don’t want to speak to the story much more than I have because it is much better experienced, and the twists and turns are what make it such a great game.
The gameplay of Little Nightmares II is largely similar to that of the first game. There are two notable differences, however. The first is that there is now a combat mechanic. Before you get too worried, the combat is framed to fit within the world of Little Nightmares. The weapons you come across are oversized and awkward by design, making the combat feel tenser than it normally would. These items can also be used to repeatedly bash some small walls to solve puzzles.
The combat will likely be met with mixed emotions. While it isn’t a major component of the game and it is done in a way that is consistent with the rest of Little Nightmares, it does run a bit counter to the general feeling of helplessness that is fostered so well throughout the game. However, when Mono is being chased and the only way forward is to grab a nearby pipe and hope you can break through a wall fast enough, it fits perfectly.
The second major addition to the gameplay is that Six, while not playable, is now an AI companion who accompanies Mono for the majority of the game. Now, if I had any complaints about the first Little Nightmares it was that the Nomes’ AI would sometimes act weird. However, after playing Little Nightmares II I can confidently say that Six is leagues ahead of any of the Nomes. In fact, she’s probably one of my favorite game AIs of all time.
There are a myriad of reasons for me to say that – for starters, she is actually helpful as a companion. By watching what she does you can learn a lot about your situation; whether you need to sneak or run, what to grab to solve puzzles, and more. Her behavior as a companion is fitting for someone who survived the Maw.
But without a doubt, the thing that makes her one of the best AI companions of all time is that she actually runs faster than Mono. During my playthrough she was never the reason for me dying. When chase sequences would start she would often react before I did and she would always be out ahead of me. If anyone was going to be the stupid, slow character who kept dying, it was going to be me.
Beyond the gameplay, the way she interacts with the environment is just interesting to watch. Little Nightmares is built around small details. The little ways that Six interacts with the environment reveals more about her personality. In the first game, her actions were controlled by the player, and while cutscenes would give a glimpse of her true personality, it was easy to project your own emotions onto her. But as her own character, the way she acts shows her true personality.
I have hugely enjoyed my time playing Little Nightmares II on Xbox. The mature themes and tense moments that made the first game so fun are present in full force, and like the first game there are plenty of secrets to be found and stories to uncover. If you want a good horror platformer, then Little Nightmares II doesn’t disappoint.