All the finest horror tales pack creepiness into even the smallest particulars, ensuring that you simply all the time really feel just a little uneasy in their worlds. And if Polygon’s preview of the first two chapters of Little Nightmares 2 is any indication, this sport is all about these particulars.
Little Nightmares 2 is developer Tarsier Studios’ follow-up to 2017’s Little Nightmares. Like the first sport, Little Nightmares 2 places you in management of a really tiny character, this time named Mono, who should sneak by way of a world full of big (from their perspective) monsters. While the first sport was set largely in The Maw, an enormous ship at sea, Little Nightmares 2 is about in the haunting metropolis of Pale City, which is stuffed with large buildings with terrifying monsters ready inside.
Little Nightmares 2 provides a mixture of mild platforming, intelligent puzzles, and loads of stealthily hiding from enemies (identical to the first sport), together with a sure part in the second chapter, which concerned a monster enjoying the piano, that was one in every of my favourite stealth sections in any current sport.
Every element feels rigorously crafted to maximise the sense of dread. The atmosphere is scattered with unsettling scenes of inhabitants of Pale City who’ve suffered tragic, unexplained fates. Then there’s the sport’s myriad of unusual sounds. In nearly each space, some new sound comes from one thing lurking simply off-screen, like the lumbering of big footsteps, a mysterious creature’s clicking, or the sound of a rope getting tighter and tighter.
All these cautious particulars feed into the sport’s final scare: loss of life. Just like the first sport, for those who fail a puzzle or make the incorrect transfer in a stealth part, you’re most likely going to get caught by one in every of the monsters and endure a horrific destiny. And Little Nightmares 2 spares no expense on simply how dangerous these deaths can get.
Getting caught once you’re sneaking round causes a pointy and surprising burst of music to chop into the sport’s moody rating, as the monster you’re hiding from rushes towards you in one inhuman method or one other. You’ll normally have a second or two to run, nevertheless it’s nearly all the time futile as the monster snatches you as much as eat you, or shoots you, or leaves you to another horrible finish.
Unfortunately, these scares turn into just a little bit much less efficient if you must retry a piece greater than as soon as — one thing that occurred to me a number of instances, due to the sport’s sometimes unclear digicam and barely finicky controls. In one case, a stealth part led me to retry a piece 4 completely different instances, making the once-horrific loss of life scene little greater than an annoyance by the finish. But these uncommon inconveniences are nicely price it for a way creepy every of the deaths is the first time round.
Part of what makes every loss of life so memorable is how a lot care went into designing every of the sport’s enemies. The second chapter in specific reveals off how robust these designs could be. The chapter’s most important monster is a schoolteacher from hell with monstrous eyes, plasticky pores and skin, a terrifying grin, and a neck that twists and extends endlessly — which the sport makes use of to nice impact in a number of of its stealth puzzles.
The trainer’s design is a large step up from the burlap-sack monsters of the first Little Nightmares and reveals simply how far Tarsier Studios has come in the few years since its launch. The trainer seems like a flesh-and-blood abomination, and each little look and sneer from her is uniquely creepy.
Almost as scary as the trainer is her class of porcelain doll-like college students. They rove round the college like ravenous zombies that assault you for those who transfer or make noise in their neighborhood. But every of those college students is about the similar dimension as our most important character, and which means we’ve acquired the likelihood to combat again as long as there’s a pipe, or hammer, or different blunt object round to make use of as a weapon. While it’s clear these poor college students have misplaced no matter minds they as soon as had, the method they shatter into items when the uninteresting thud of a melee assault hits them is nearly as unsettling as any loss of life Mono himself can endure.
While all of the enemies in Little Nightmares 2 can be lots terrifying when standing nonetheless, their animations add a complete new dimension to the sport’s unsettling ambiance. The bigger enemies like the trainer stroll in a stilted jittery animation, like claymation monsters designed to look incorrect. Meanwhile the college students transfer with all the grace and smoothness of the most important character, making them really feel like acquainted, alternate-world variations of Mono.
All these particulars permit even the quietest moments of Little Nightmares 2 to comprise a tiny little bit of dread, and thru the first two chapters, I couldn’t wait to see what new terror awaited me. If the remainder of the sport is half as unsettling as the first two chapters, Little Nightmares 2 may be an early contender for one in every of the scariest video games of the 12 months.
Little Nightmares 2 is scheduled to be launched on Feb. 11, and shall be obtainable on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.