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Little Nightmares 2 review: frustrating, frightening and freaky

Creepy crawlies, glitchy ghouls and macabre mannequins — you’ve been warned!

Little Nightmares 2
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tarsier Studios/Bandai Namco)

Our Verdict

Little Nightmares 2 is an adrenaline-pumping adventure with an unpredictable, thought-provoking ending that will leave you aggravated and afraid.

For

  • Diverse game mechanics
  • Brain-stimulating puzzles
  • Jump scares and exhilaration
  • Creepy-beautiful art direction
  • Satisfying combat
  • Unpredictable ending
  • Some audio-focused gameplay

Against

  • No manual saves
  • Frequent parallax errors
  • Frustrating gameplay

“You’ve got to be *bleep* kidding me with this *bleep*!” Little Nightmares 2 sparked a gamer rage in me that was so fiery, I’m surprised I didn’t toss my gaming laptop out the window. My poor gaming mouse, however, didn’t make it — RIP.

Not only does Little Nightmares 2 elicit explosive emotions with its challenging levels (nothing is more frustrating than failing to escape a monster by a razor-thin margin), but it will knock you off your seat with scream-inducing jump scares and exhilarating chases that require parkour expertise.

From heart-tugging “oh, no!” moments to repeating levels a zillion times, the Bandai Namco-published IP had me on the verge of tears more than I’d like to admit. Little Nightmares 2 is an infuriating game, but once you finally escape that relentless enemy without dying for the umpteenth time, a euphoric rush of fulfillment takes over and neutralizes the frustration-filled fury that made you want to flip a table. Little Nightmares 2 is like a toxic relationship; it drags you through a turbulent rollercoaster of emotions, but you’re not ready to hop off because it’s far too thrilling.

Little Nightmares 2

Mono and Six walking together (Image credit: Future)

Little Nightmares 2 — propelled forward by a cute, paper bag-headed protagonist named Mono and his yellow raincoat-wearing sidekick Six — is far more sinister than the original game, subjecting you to a spine-tingling, dialogue-free tale, a host of unnerving, humanoid brutes, and brain-stimulating puzzles that’ll drive you mad.

Little Nightmares 2: What makes it different from the original?

The original game places you in the shoes of a precocious little girl named Six. With her emaciated frame and stick-thin chicken legs, Six doesn’t stand a chance against the gargantuan creatures that lurk ahead. Imagine being stripped naked, weaponless and thrown into a ring to fight half-human beasts that are three times your size — that’s what it felt like to play tiny ol’ Six as she creeps through a towering vessel with unspeakable terrors.

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Six in Little Nightmares (Image credit: Tarsier Studios)

Little Nightmares isn’t a horror game per se, but what makes this IP unsettling is the constant feeling of vulnerability. Armed with nothing but a lighter, the odds are stacked against you. But Six is smarter than you think. Using dark shadows and conveniently placed objects, Six used her noggin to outstart her terrifying enemies in the original game.

In Little Nightmares 2, on the other hand, you’re armed with more — Six comes back as a helpful AI companion who gives Mono boosts to higher platforms, catches him as he leaps from one platform to another, and more. Unlike Six, Mono doesn’t trudge through this treacherous journey alone — well, for the most part (I don’t want to spoil too much).

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Six reaching out to help Mono leap across (Image credit: Little Nightmares 2)

Little Nightmares 2 also features combat — a game mechanic the original IP lacked. In the first game, Six outpaced her enemies using stealth tactics, distracting them with loud objects, or making a run for it. Mono adopts Six’s strategies but adds combat to the mix to defeat smaller, less-intimidating enemies, which I’ll dive into later. You’ll also find new interactive objects in Mono’s environment including TVs that can be used for teleportation and a flashlight that can help you ward off light-averse enemies.

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Little Nightmares 2: The Living Hands (Image credit: Future)

It’s also worth noting that while the original takes place in one setting (a humongous ship called The Maw), Little Nightmares 2 invites you to explore several bloodcurdling locations: an eerie forest, a haunted house, a trap-filled school, a creepy hospital and much more.

Of course, there are new enemies, but there’s something oddly familiar about them: Tarsier Studios also seems to have an obsession with unnaturally elongated body parts. In the original, Six had to face a long-armed monster called The Janitor. In Little Nightmares 2, Mono must sneak past a frightening, long-necked enemy called The Teacher. 

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Little Nightmares 2: The Hunter (Image credit: Future)

Other enemies include a shotgun-wielding maniac called The Hunter, boisterous and murderous porcelain-doll schoolchildren called The Bullies, and the Thin Man — the main antagonist who’s behind the brainwashing signals that are being transmitted to Pale City’s citizens. The latter seems to be number one on Mono and Six’s hit list as they make their way to Signal Tower to stop its evil transmission. 

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Little Nightmares 2: The Thin Man (Image credit: Future)

Make sure to break out the headphones, too — and not just because Little Nightmares 2 has sweet-sounding, harmonious music-box scores. There are some levels, particularly toward the end, that require you to "follow the music" to lead Mono in the right direction.

Finally, unlike the first game, Little Nightmares 2 allows you to collect different hats throughout the game, so if you get sick of the stupid paper bag on Mono’s head, you can swap it for a coonskin cap if you find one. 

Little Nightmares 2: Frustrating levels and brain-stimulating puzzles

Little Nightmares 2 is a 3D puzzle platformer with a side-scrolling camera. To put it into perspective, playing Little Nightmares 2 is like steering a remote-controlled toy truck inside a boutique while watching it from the storefront window. Though you can see the toy truck, some things will undoubtedly block your view.

On one level that left me damn-near bald from all the frustrated hair-pulling, I had to navigate Mono through a horde of fast-moving, petrifying mannequins. Getting your character through these pesky mannequins, as mentioned, is like controlling a toy truck as I look in from the outside. Unidentified objects blocked my view of Mono, making it difficult to decide the next best move.

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Little Nightmares 2: The Patients (Image credit: Future)

This side-view perspective also makes it difficult to perceive where objects are in relation to Mono (i.e. parallax errors). For example, Mono often comes across hanging noose-like ropes that he can use to swing across platforms. However, it’s sometimes difficult to discern if Mono is properly aligned in front of the rope to make the jump.  

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Little Nightmares 2: Mono swinging on a rope (Image credit: Future)

From my perspective, it may seem like Mono is standing right in front of the rope, but he’s often off-kilter — so much so that when Mono jumps to swing on the rope, he misses and plunges to his death. This happens quite frequently — not only with ropes, but with jumping from one platform to another.

On top of that, Mono moves like molasses, which is by design. Mono’s “sprints” feel like he’s running through knee-deep water. On some levels, you’ll suddenly find yourself being chased by a mob of monsters eager to rip you to shreds. Mono is so damn slow, even if you make a split-second misstep (e.g. accidentally pressing the crouch button before quickly getting back on your feet), it will thwart you from making your escape and you’ll fail the level. No matter how quickly you recover after the mistake, you’ll likely have to restart the level because Mono moves like a snail and chase levels have zero tolerance for fumbles.

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Little Nightmares 2: Mono and Six (Image credit: Future)

Overall, I loved Little Nightmares 2’s puzzles. They’re brain-stimulating so you’ll feel like a genius after mastering them, but at the same time, they’re not too difficult that you’ll scream “Oh come on! That’s unfair! Who would get that?” Depending on how perceptive you are, you’ll either be running to YouTubers to find answers or you’ll plow through them like a champ. Personally, my record with Little Nightmares 2’s puzzles is inconsistent. Sometimes I’d solve ‘em quickly; other times, it’d take me over an hour to find hidden-in-plain-sight solutions which made me want to kick myself.

Make no mistake — you will die over, and over, and over again. There are times when you’ll be this close to reaching the end, but you’ll get caught. You may assume Little Nightmares 2 gets its troubling name from its maniacal mannequins and other unearthly creatures, but perhaps the true nightmares are the hard-won levels. You’ll bang your fists on the table, threaten to quit, and shout a string of profanities that’ll make your grandmother clutch her pearls. But once you finally beat them, that intoxicating, on-top-of-the-world feeling that takes over is indescribable and makes Little Nightmares 2 worth it. 

Little Nightmares 2: Diverse game mechanics makes this game fun 

You’d be sorely mistaken if you thought Little Nightmares 2 is just a puzzle game. This adventurous, creepy sequel will give you an adrenaline rush as an unexpected swarm of Viewers — Pale City’s citizens who are brainwashed by Signal Tower’s eerie transmissions — hunt you down, forcing you to quickly leap over several obstacles like a parkour athlete. 

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Little Nightmares 2: The Viewers (Image credit: Future)

You will also have the opportunity to use a flashlight to stop hostile mannequins from attacking Mono. Light is the mannequins’ kryptonite. If you shine a light on them, you’ll “deactivate” them.  

The Patients

Little Nightmares 2: The Patients (Image credit: Future)

Once you move the light away, however, they’ll come charging toward you like bulls. I can’t tell you how many times it took me to complete this particular level. When you have 10 mannequins gunning for you, it requires a high level of dexterity to keep your light shined on them while running away.  

Of course, stealth mechanics have always been one of the most exciting aspects of the Little Nightmares series. 

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Little Nightmares 2: The Teacher (Image credit: Future)

Shadows are your friends. I was on the edge of my seat as I had to sneak past the long-necked Teacher. Every time she turned around to write on the chalkboard, I tip-toed onward to the next shadowy hiding spot until I could progress to the next room. I don’t know what’s up with Pale City’s monsters, but holy hell they are hyperaware AF and can hear a proverbial pin drop! If Mono isn’t tip-toeing, they will hear his light-footed steps — even if he’s in the farthest corner of the room. 

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Little Nightmares 2: The Teacher (Image credit: Future)

There’s also a level in which Mono dons a disguise to escape a spooky school filled with boisterous, porcelain-doll bullies. As a Hitman fan, I love “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” gameplay. Also, in true Hitman fashion, you can fry your enemies to a crisp by luring them into electrified puddles. Muhahaha! At one point, I baited a pain-in-the-rear enemy into an incinerator and I couldn’t help but cackle as I watched Six use the heat to warm her cold hands.

You can also use TV portals to your advantage. During the latter half of Little Nightmares 2, as Mono explores the depths of Pale City, you’ll find TV portals you can use to teleport to different locations to progress in the game. 

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Six and Mono (Image credit: Future)

In some heart-pumping situations, you’ll find a hypnotized Viewer blocking the TV. You’ll need to turn the screen off using the remote to lure them away. You then have to dive into the TV and escape to the next location before they can snatch you up for interrupting their viewing session.

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Little Nightmares 2 (Image credit: Future)

Little Nightmares 2 recaptured all the mechanics I loved about the original game, including throwing objects at buttons to activate them, leaping across gaps, swinging on ropes, and pushing and pulling chairs to reach high platforms. On top of these are a host of entertaining new features including AI companionship (watch Six! She gives you hints), teleportation and combat. 

Little Nightmares 2: The combat is super satisfying 

In the original game, I often wanted to smack the ever-living crap out of some of those child-eating enemies who got in my way; I simply wanted Six to get off that hellhole called a ship, but instead, they made my life, of course, a living nightmare. Don’t get me wrong. Six is a beast in her own right, but she was unarmed throughout the whole game. Mono, on the other hand, has access to mallets, ladles and pipes to open a can of whoop-ass on his antagonists. Hallelujah!

Let me tell you — taking a mallet and going ham on the spider-like, creepy-crawly severed hands that try to attack poor Mono is one of the most satisfying feelings ever. You can also use ladles to swing at the mischievous, impish porcelain-doll school bullies who shatter into many pieces after getting whacked.

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(Image credit: Future)

Timing is everything with Mono’s melee weapons. They’re all pretty heavy for his frail arms, so after making one swing, it takes a few seconds to regain energy for a second swing, leaving him vulnerable for attack. You have to make sure to hit your target every time, that way, while Mono gets his bearings, your enemy is still recovering from the first swing and cannot counterattack. 

Is Little Nightmares 2 scary?

Whether Little Nightmares 2 is scary or not is subjective, but I can tell you that it’s not a walk in the park. I don’t remember any jump scares in the original game, but I can think of three or four in the sequel. You’re frequently on the edge of your seat because you know creepy tomfoolery is always afoot. There are traps everywhere that will kill you on sight, which heightens your paranoia. You’ll find yourself in rooms so dark, you’re compelled to turn on your flashlight and confront monsters. In one level, Mono silently crept through a creepy, dark hospital room, and suddenly, a mannequin came charging toward him, causing me to yelp in surprise.  

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Little Nightmares 2 (Image credit: Future)

This happens frequently; Mono walks into a quiet, seemingly innocuous room, and then bam, a fiend suddenly appears and you damn-near have a heart attack.

What Tarsier Studios does well with Little Nightmares 2 is implement “You’re not safe yet!” tactics throughout the game. For example, you may think you’re safe after running into a tunnel to escape The Teacher, but next thing you know, she unexpectedly sticks her head through and extends her neck further and further, impelling you to keep sprinting to avoid getting caught by the weird ol’ freakshow.  

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Little Nightmares 2: The Teacher (Image credit: Future)

You’ll get chased by a severed hand, scramble up a tall bookshelf and think, “Yes! I’ve escaped!” But little do you know that severed hands know how to climb, too.

There is one scene where you could, from a distance, see bodies being thrown from a roof, but due to the rainy and foggy atmosphere, you can’t really see who or what is ditching these bodies.

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Little Nightmares 2: The Viewers (Image credit: Future)

When you get a better look at what the heck is happening, you’ll find a group of Pale City citizens lining up to off themselves from a roof. The brainwashing, evil signals transmitted from Signal Tower are so mind-warping, The Viewers no longer have the will to live. Throughout the game, a chill will crawl up your spine as you notice that The Viewers seem like nothing but empty shells of people.

Despite Little Nightmares 2’s gloomy, desaturated, deteriorating locations, Tarsier Studios’ artists did a phenomenal job at designing creepily beautiful settings in an ugly world. 

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Little Nightmares 2: A kid's playroom (Image credit: Future)

What makes Little Nightmares 2 unnerving is that it looks like a replica of our world. It doesn’t take place inside a demon’s lair or some otherworldly planet. Instead, Mono tiptoes through true-to-life places that may have given you your own dose of nightmarish trauma, such as classrooms, hospital rooms and even your parents’ homes.

Personally, I wouldn’t say Little Nightmares 2 is scary in an “Oh, this is too much for my heart!” type of way, but it is — without a doubt —  macabre, freaky and unsettling. If you have a fear of mannequins, arachnoid creatures and disfigured freakshows, Little Nightmares 2 will certainly be a horror game for you. 

Little Nightmares 2: How it runs on PC 

I reviewed Little Nightmares 2 on the Lenovo Legion 7, which comes with an Intel Core i7-10750H CPU, 16GB of RAM, and an Nvidia RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU with 6GB of VRAM. I cranked up the graphics settings to the max, and Little Nightmares 2 ran as smoothly as a well-greased motor at a consistent 144 frames per second without any issues (1080p, Ultra).

The minimum requirements for a system to run Little Nightmares 2 include 4GB of RAM, an Intel Core i5-2300 CPU or AMD FX-4350 CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 GPU or AMD Radeon HD 7850 GPU and Windows 10. Meanwhile, the recommended specs require 4GB of RAM, an Intel Core i7-3770 CPU or AMD FX-8350 CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 GPU or AMD Radeon HD 7870 GPU and Windows 10.

I only found one bug in Little Nightmares 2. At one point, Mono was standing on top of a grand piano and I suddenly couldn’t move him.

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Little Nightmares 2: The grand piano (Image credit: Future)

Despite spamming all the buttons on my controller, Mono didn’t move an inch. I had to restart the level all over again, but luckily, I was at the very beginning of the mission. 

Speaking of controllers, Tarsier Studios advises PC gamers to use a gamepad — not the keyboard — to play Little Nightmares 2. I experimented with both, and Tarsier Studios’ recommendation should be heeded. On some levels, you’ll need to keep your fingers on three buttons simultaneously as you sprint and steer Mono while aiming a flashlight; a keyboard and mouse aren’t optimized for handling these maneuvers.

Bottom line 

Little Nightmares 2 is eons better than the original game, which is saying a lot because I loved Six’s journey, but Mono’s storyline in this latest entry is far more captivating. What I disliked about the original game was its confusing tale. To this day, no one knows who “The Lady” is (Little Nightmares’ final boss) and why Six was on The Maw. Truthfully, I’m convinced that even Tarsier Studios doesn’t know what the heck Little Nightmares is about — they just wanted to make a Spirited Away-esque video game that takes places on the sea.

Little Nightmares 2, on the other hand, is an audacious critique about how the powers that be — the elites who own social-media platforms, radio stations, TV channels, advertisement space and more — have massive influence over the world’s collective thought process. You may not like to admit it, but who you are and how you think is largely shaped by the media you consume. The horrific scene with The Viewers jumping off the roof, unfortunately, parallels our reality. Studies have shown that there is a correlation between the uptick of social media usage and increasing suicide rates. Pale City’s citizens have transformed into hypnotized zombies entranced by glaring TV screens, and truth be told, Viewers live among us, too.

The Viewers, though, are only a sliver of the Little Nightmares 2 storyline. Just wait 'til you get to the end! You won't see it coming.

Little Nightmares 2, offering longer gameplay, more locations and creepier villains, is an exhilarating, adrenaline-pumping, frightening adventure that will keep you up at night for many days post-completion. It’s a frustrating game, but the rush you get after fulfilling each mission is worth it.

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!