Little Nightmares, as the name suggests, was a game that tapped into our deepest childhood fears and twisted them with a grim sense of the macabre. It was cloying and creepy, with a deathly sense of humour as you looked to solve its platform puzzles under the threat of what lurks in the dark.
The question with a sequel such as this is: can developer Tarsier pull off the same trick twice? For this particular exam, the Swedish developer goes back to school; a level in the new game that Tarsier says “exemplifies the best we’ve done so far”.
Having tip-toed my way through its wood-trimmed halls, a Victorian nightmare overrun by rabid, porcelain-headed children I find it hard to argue. It is a place of suffocating terror for the game’s new protagonist, a young boy named Mono who chooses to wear a paper bag over his head to hide his face. He is making his way through the Pale City accompanied by the first game’s Six, whom you don’t control but form a collaborative bond as you make your way through the game’s various grotesqueries.
Tarsier says that having two kids surviving together is something the team has wanted to do ‘from the start’. The first game allowed the team to cut its teeth, but it wasn’t without its issues. Control was flighty and sometimes ruinously inaccurate, while checkpointing was erratic and loading overly long. All of these are issues that Tarsier has looked to chamfer away with Little Nightmares 2, claiming it has “rebuilt the game from the ground up”. It certainly feels that way in the hands, with much tighter movement and a generous checkpointing system that throws you right back into the action whenever you meet a grisly end.