Little Nightmares 2, the review: the great adventure of Mono and Six

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Aina Martin
@ainamartin
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Nightmares are a strange, incomprehensible phenomenon: they affect us in ways we don't even imagine and yet, often, we don't remember experiencing them - as illusionist Derren Brown explains in the latest, intriguing Little Nightmares II trailer. The second official chapter of the small series of Tarsier Studios for now, also expanded thanks to the spin-off Very Little Nightmares and some comics, passes from the claustrophobic atmosphere of the Maw to the subjugating dispersiveness of a more open world made of wild nature and a city abandoned to itself, where the horrors are stronger than ever and amplified by the mysterious Repeater who subjugates the inhabitants. The protagonist of the game is Mono, a little boy who hides his face behind a paper mask to defend himself from the world and from anyone who wants to see it fail; accompanied by the well-known Six, on a journey poised between prequel and sequel that only at the end, if you have learned to grasp the details, will reveal more of itself. For this Little Nightmares 2 review we played the PS4 version in backward compatibility, as the next-gen version is expected later.



Telling through images

Little Nightmares, we have highlighted it more than once and you will have understood it too if you have played the original chapter, he speaks without the use of words: he takes the so-called "show don't tell" and makes it his best tool to tell and tell. It plays on the images, on the suggestions it generates, it also enjoys making us believe something that is actually quite another, it shapes our perceptions conscious of being always in control; it is consciously cryptic because it forces us to go beyond simply seeing, it pushes us to look, to grasp details that have been under our eyes from the beginning but, in fact, we have only seen, never really looked. He invites players to take their time, take their time, and browse the different subtexts that make up his distorted, yet incredibly communicative, world. Little Nightmares II does exactly that, with even more punch thanks to asetting more varied and extensive, providing us with just the basics of a narrative that must be extrapolated piece by piece, level by level, even game after game: we had confirmation when, taking a look at the counter, we realized that we had accumulated twenty-two hours overall play on an experience that, although longer than the first, is around six and a half.



The first time we were amazed by the conclusion, with a sense of incompleteness and even disappointment in the face of a hermeticism that could be fine as long as Little Nightmares was a game in its own right, but instead did not fit in with the concept of seriality it embraced. . Too many obscure points, the impossibility of placing it in the timeline of the narrative universe and the belief that Tarsier Studios had made the unspoken a tool to make up for the lack of plot, using the mystery as a shield for a lack of ideas; then we played it a second time more calmly, a third and even a fourth, slowly discovering something more until we grasp it in its entirety - which in any case does not give up that typical enigmaticity of the series.

We understood the evasion theme, also and above all intended as an escape from reality, as the central point of his narrative and we succeeded by accepting that it was the game that dictated our rhythms, without imposing our own. The trip of Mono and Six is a constant allegory, which began as the nightmare of two children struggling against a cruel and prevaricating world to turn into a much more multifaceted story: a cryptic tale, which may not find everyone's favor, but faithful to the foundations laid previously and facilitated by a greater variety in the settings. The first game of Little Nightmares 2 is, in essence, the cover - the one for which any book should not actually be judged; the following ones represent the real story.


More refined gameplay

Cryptic narrative or not, we're still talking about a video game: how does the story of Little Nightmares 2 relate to the gameplay itself? What, if so, did Tarsier Studios do to improve from the previous chapter? First of all, the cooperative mechanics. Different levels, more varied and more spacious, require a collaboration to get out of it unscathed and this is where the character of Six intervenes once again, as a faithful companion guided by artificial intelligence who will shoulder Mono during the adventure.


As we have already noted during the demos, the girl in the yellow raincoat is limited and scripted in her actions but in any case it is targeted interventions, which prevent situations like The Last of Us, for example, in which Ellie does not she is detected by the enemies even if she starts dancing in front of them. Contained interactivity, therefore, yet essential in not highlighting any discrepancies and thus breaking the suspension of disbelief; the limited presence of hostile entities, which are reduced to a few minor enemies and bosses, helps to avoid running into similar situations, however we did not perceive it as an obstacle but, on the contrary, a possible basis for developing a co-component in the future. concrete op along the lines of Trine.


At the moment, therefore, Little Nightmares 2 remains a 'single player experience with the support of artificial intelligence but it cannot be excluded that, given the premises, if the developers want to continue the series they can think of a chapter in multiplayer. Perhaps it would dampen the idea that we should always feel helpless and alone, but this will tell us the time and the possible direction that will be taken. To move things, and also to increase Mono's sense of helplessness, the opportunity to defend themselves in some cases using objects contextual to the environment: a hammer or a metal pipe, but even a ladle, are the weapons with which our young protagonist can protect himself from the assaults of the most disparate creatures, if they are within his reach. Since these are objects intended for people of very different tonnage from that of Mono, the use is slow and tiring, it requires at the same time alertness and decision-making ability because the fact remains that a single shot is enough to kill us. While it may seem strange at first, it is perfectly within the developers' intention to make us feel helpless even when armed, emphasizing that nothing is safe in a world where everything is hostile to us. While having a slight trial and error component, i fighting they also have a minimum margin in certain cases to recover from our mistakes and reposition us; it does not apply to all enemies but, again, we return to the concept of eternal inferiority with respect to the game world and the need to anticipate it, if you want to at least survive.


To act more as an obstacle, in the clashes and in some more excited sections, is above all the depth perception: sometimes it is difficult to determine the position of Mono with respect to the weapon he must wield, or the hole he must slip into to escape the unbeatable creature on duty, and it is in these cases that the failure becomes more constant, perceptible and punitive. Especially as regards the pursuits, a minimum hesitation is enough, perhaps also due to not knowing what awaits us, to be irremediably captured or killed. The checkpoint fortunately it is always around the corner but Tarsier Studios has yet to completely file the concept of trial and error, although in our opinion it is less felt than in the original chapter: the situations of forced escape are fewer, the stealth phases more manageable in terms of spaces and timing, and many of these are intuitive at a glance. Cases in which you are caught off guard are quite rare, so overall we can confirm that the developers have made progress compared to the previous game while still allowing themselves to be partially groped by the trial and error issue.

In terms of puzzles, a greater breadth and diversity of the settings allows an equally varied approach in testing our intuition: they are more savvy than the original chapter, in some cases they include an attached dangerous situation, while in others they are small puzzles that exploit the surrounding elements to build oneself, thus making good use of the environment to express oneself at best. However, being Little Nightmares 2 a game with a story to tell, they never put a real block to the continuation of the adventure; sometimes it will even be Six herself, with a glance, to feed us on what to do, thus reinforcing the sense of complicity between the two protagonists. The level design also allows the adventure to shine, distributing itself between a refined verticality and "down to earth" situations able to alternate in a pleasantly fluid way: in short, it is difficult to perceive a forcing in the path undertaken by Mono and Six, since they exploit every what the environment has to offer.

Artistic and technical sector

At the level technical and artistic, the final result is excellent: inspired from the beginning, with Little Nightmares 2 the series is enriched with literally nightmarish views, enhanced by a sound sector that is always of a high level and perfect in generating voltage peaks, with attention to the smallest details and more once they are able to give us back the feeling of helplessness in being a lost child in a world that is too big and too voracious. The very design of the monsters adapts to the individual levels, fitting perfectly, presenting different bosses capable of disturbing everyone in their own way.

Precisely by virtue of the aforementioned show don't tell, each setting has a story to tell which then enriches the general picture, and we also found the fact that the digital comic (to be read via the appropriate app) connects both in terms of scenarios and lore to the adventure, even suggesting some secret rooms - but in the full style of the series without ever being too explicit. The next gen version will arrive in the future, however there is very little to complain about that PS4 in backward compatibility: the only real criticism is a slight delay at times in the execution of commands, which ends up turning against us in the most delicate situations. These are smudges that do not spoil the game as a whole, leaving the experience very enjoyable.

Comment

Tested version PlayStation 4 Resources4Gaming.com

8.5

Readers (24)

8.2

Your vote

Little Nightmares 2 is proof that Tarsier Studios has taken small but heartfelt steps forward in the development of its series: it hasn't dared too much with this second chapter and, perhaps, one or two more implementations would have been expected, but they cannot be denied. the differences with the first starting from cooperation (albeit with artificial intelligence) and the introduction of short fights to animate the action. Supported once again by a cryptic story whose secrets make the most of the don't tell show and by an artistic sector inspired in aesthetic terms and effective in terms of sound design, the second official chapter moves forward with respect to the original by leveling the road to an even more felt growth in the future: much remains to be told, perhaps through DLC as it was for The Secrets of the Maw at the time or perhaps, why not, through an animated film or a web series. In the meantime, the nightmares are real again and it's up to you to face them, in a desperate and perhaps useless escape from a reality that never stops following us.

PRO

  • Great use of the don't tell show
  • Evocative settings, well-structured level design
  • The aesthetics and sound design are as always of excellent workmanship
AGAINST
  • Some difficulty in depth perception
  • Sometimes the slight delay in input backfires us
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