Like its 2017 predecessor, Little Nightmares 2 is a fever-dream made playable, with the creepy, disturbing edge of a Brothers Grimm fairytale or Jan Svankmajer animation, albeit carefully leavened with rare but powerful uplifting moments. It’s superminimal, eschewing even a single word of dialogue; we control a child, Mono, who must work out how to make his way through a surreal and dangerous place.
Despite the sort of chase sequences that would ordinarily end with you waking up in a cold sweat, Little Nightmares 2 isn’t really an action game – instead, it mixes puzzle-solving, stealth and jumping around. Mono can walk leap, run, grab and wield things from a torch and a TV remote to axes and lengths of pipe, but he’s only little and struggles with their weight, dragging them around and winding up before each strike. This makes timing crucial, and illustrates this game’s memorable tactility.
Mono initially finds himself in the countryside, hooking up with Six – the protagonist from the first game – and evading a scary adult with a shotgun, before he reaches a city where the adults are transfixed by their TVs. Over five or six hours, we pass through deliciously creepy buildings such as a school and a hospital before homing on the transmission tower that is the source of the hypnotic broadcasts. The puzzles are often wildly inventive and, when Six makes an appearance, sometimes have a cooperative element. You can’t control her directly, but she can, for example, provide Mono with leg-ups to reach otherwise inaccessible door-handles.
Despite its non-verbal nature (brilliant environmental details, sound design and music tell the story in place of words), Little Nightmares 2 is thought-provoking, tackling the potentially corrupting nature of what is beamed into our homes. If you were to nitpick, you could say that there’s little motivation to revisit the game once it’s run its course – but this gothic nightmare is a delight to inhabit.