|Little Nightmares II|
|Publisher||Bandai Namco Entertainment|
|release date||February 2021|
The first part of Little Nightmares was remembered by the players as an atmospheric dark adventure, where the story is organically woven into the gameplay. Then there was a DLC about a runaway boy, a separate mobile game, and at the beginning of 2021 a full-fledged sequel was released, proving that the authors had not exhausted the supply of ideas. Little Nightmares II once again impresses with visual images and the correct narrative presentation within the framework of a puzzle platformer.
Now the main character is a Mono boy with a bag on his head. His adventure begins in a gloomy dark forest filled with traps. Having reached the dilapidated house, he saves a little girl from imprisonment.
Together, the children search for a way out of this dangerous place and face a menacing hunter. Hiding and resorting to tricks, they eventually escape the threat and swim away to another place, where they see a strange empty city with curved houses rising up.
The city is represented by a pile of dilapidated houses with traces of the recent presence of people. Initially, he meets the heroes with empty streets and obstacles to overcome. But as we go deeper inside, more serious dangers await us.
The game consists of several stages, each of which is an independent world with its own semantic content, where everything revolves around one big enemy. In the dark forest, traps and traps indicate the presence of a hunter. A strange school filled with frenzied china kids whose aggression obeys the harsh will of a creepy teacher. In the gloomy hospital, we will meet with revived mannequins and a monstrous doctor.
The theme of the TV signal, which affects the world and the characters, runs through the entire game. Closer to the finale, this results in the appearance of another creepy creature chasing children.
Each large level is an independent system with many interconnected elements that create an overall picture of the place. As a result, the silent game without a single dialogue creates an amazing sense of immersion when the player is an explorer, discovering new secrets in the universe of nightmares. Behind the frilly visual images is full of allegories and metaphors. And for all its grotesqueness, the game is a reflection of the real world, which we look at through the hypertrophied perception of the child’s mind.
Little Nightmares II can be roughly called an extended 2.5D platformer. The hero not only moves in a 2D plane, but also maneuvers between obstacles and enemies, within conditional or explicit walls that limit the location.
Mono can run, jump and interact with the world by moving objects and transferring details. If we have a high rise in front of us, we create an additional step with the help of some kind of box. A thrown shoe activates traps. A large abyss can be crossed by swinging on a rope. But often the game sets us more complex tasks of several actions, where we gradually fulfill the goal by manipulating objects.
Also, you constantly have to get keys to unlock the doors, plugs to activate the electrical panel, etc. To do this, you first need to solve the puzzle in one place, get the item you are looking for and go back to go to a new stage on the level. At the same time, the design of locations skillfully guides us, without provoking meaningless wanderings along the corridors.
The companion plays an important role in the narrative and gameplay. She helps Mono climb up, picks him up when jumping. And many tasks are built around such joint interaction.
During the course of the adventure, the girl often gets into trouble, and Mono saves her by acting alone for a certain time. At some point, the heroine finds a yellow raincoat and appears before us in the form of the Sixth from the first part of Little Nightmares.
The game skillfully pumps up suspense throughout the entire timing. Dark samples and depressing music evoke a constant sense of unease, which translates into bright frightening encounters with big bosses. The hypertrophied proportions of the body, the terrifying grimaces on the face and the omnipresence of these creepy adults are the quintessence of children’s fears and nightmares.
Encounters with such opponents force you to hide in the corners. Or you have to rush headlong to the heels, trying to get away from the grasping hands and teeth of a dangerous pursuer.
Smaller opponents can be dealt with by other methods, giving vent to inner childish rage. Porcelain children willingly scatter into fragments from the impact of a club. But sometimes you can go through them purely on “stealth”, disguising yourself or pretending to be someone else.
A special mention is the confrontation with the animated mannequins with the help of a flashlight. An extremely difficult moment in terms of control and management, which will make you sweat a lot.
In addition to visual design, sound design plays an important role with creepy sounds and oppressive music. All this creates a viscous atmosphere and successfully emphasizes the tension of individual game moments.
The game is based on the Unreal Engine 4 and the graphics are slightly different from the first part.
The system requirements are modest, but for the sake of experiment, we conducted a small test of powerful video cards in 4K resolution.
According to the test results, it is clear that an undemanding 4K player will be satisfied with the performance of the GeForce RTX 3060, and more powerful video cards will provide over 60 fps.
For very weak graphics accelerators, it can be recommended to reduce the quality of anti-aliasing and the depth of field effect, which will increase performance quite well without losing detail quality.
Little Nightmares II is a gripping dark tale. The game successfully combines varied gameplay and depressing narrative with immersion in the dark world of hypertrophied childhood nightmares. This is a frightening adventure in an unusual grotesque world with deep allegorical content, giving rise to a heap of questions and conjectures. This is the main attraction of Little Nightmares II.