It’s dangerous to go alone. So in Little Nightmares II, you bring a friend.
The sequel to 2017’s spooky adventure hit isn’t set to land until 2021, but Kotaku Australia recently got a good glimpse of the game’s opening chapters in a closed preview. Like Little Nightmares, the sequel is a haunting puzzler with plenty of challenges and sights to gawk at from the giant, scarecrow-faced farmer who chases you with a shotgun to the mouldy, slit-faced family you need to avoid in one of the game’s many creepy houses.
The demo was light on story, but shed more details about the how the game will follow up on the success of the original.
Little Nightmares II features a brand new protagonist — a small boy with a paper bag over his head. He enters the scary, twilight world of the game all alone. Objects tower over him and the tall grass nearly obscures him entirely.
In the demo, he ventures through this world crossing giant bridges, mud pools, crows and derelict houses. There’s plenty of environmental puzzles to get stuck into and you’ll need to figure out the best ways to get around in this larger-than-life world.
Controls are fairly simple, and typical of any adventure game. The protagonist has run, jump and interact movements allowing him to take advantage of items in his path. While running and jumping are the primary mechanics, you’ll also need the interact/grab mechanic to spring waiting traps with sticks, cut your way through doors with an axe and navigate any obstacles in your path.
Gameplay is often trial and error. You’ll find yourself running into bear traps and being shot a lot before you finally figure out where each hidden danger is lurking and how to avoid them. While it can be frustrating, it certainly ramps up the tension in the game.
Little Nightmares II is a scary game, but not so scary that non-horror fans can’t enjoy it.
It’s filled with creepy little set pieces, anxiety-inducing music and a tension that’ll have the hairs on your neck standing up on end. It’s incredibly creepy and each landscape gets creepier as you progress, but the scares are more psychological than gory or gut-churning. It’ll give you a fright, not a heart attack.
After the protagonist makes his way through the tall grass and mud in the opening chapters, he comes across a mysterious, rickety house filled with broken trinkets and a diseased, rotting family sitting upright at a dinner table. It’s here our protagonist meets his new friend and companion for the rest of his journey.
In the attic of the house, he discovers another little boy.
His presence unlocks new mechanics and possibilities for the game as well as frightening new enemies. With him by your side, you’ll be able to climb higher obstacles, discover hidden secrets and solve more complex problems. He also makes you a bigger moving target though, so you’ll need to be wary when enemies attack.
The second major set-piece for the demo was a chase sequence featuring a scarecrow-like man wielding a shotgun.
No matter how experienced a gamer you are, you’ll shit yourself at this sequence.
The two protagonists of Little Nightmares II are tiny. The scarecrow with the shotgun is huge. Any sudden movements and he’ll fire, killing you and your friend immediately. You step into the light, you die. You get spotted by a crow, you die. You stay hidden in the mud too long, you die — and in the background, an intense rhythm dogs your footsteps.
It’s a masterclass in tension building, but definitively horrifying, too. It requires a fair bit of puzzling to overcome, but it’s a triumphant piece of horror-adventure storytelling. It’s involving, frantic and very fun. If the game continues this rip-roaring pace for the entirety of its story, it’s set to be very special, indeed.
From quiet, mournful moments to run-for-your-life gameplay, the Little Nightmares II demo proved just how interesting and diverse the final game has the potential to be. There’s some stunning setpieces here and genuine head-scratching puzzles to work through. While the game is still a long way off, there’s plenty here to get excited about.
Bring on the nightmares.
Little Nightmares 2 is due out sometime this in 2021 for PC, PS4, Xbox One and the Switch.