“This isn’t so bad,” I thought to myself as I scampered through the admittedly spooky forest, the opening level of Little Nightmares II, which I got to play in a preview build of the game. Mono, the paper bag-wearing protagonist of Little Nightmares II, handles just as nimbly as the original game’s Six, which makes it easy to navigate the dangerous obstacles in my path. Whether it’s leaping over the poorly hidden rope to avoid getting caught in a snare or chucking abandoned shoes and sticks into piles of leaves that are clearly hiding active bear traps, Mono is up to the task–he’s an intelligent kid. Which then begs the question: Why in the hell is he choosing to continue down an increasingly dangerous path that is obviously leading up to something even worse?
That something turns out to be a dilapidated shack of a house. “We could just go around,” I say out loud, but Mono isn’t having any of it. The only path forward, apparently, is through, so into the obvious murder house I go. Inside, Little Nightmares’ more traditional puzzles come into play–just like the first game, you’re controlling a very tiny child who has wandered into a space that’s home to people who are significantly larger than you. So Mono has to clamber up and down staircases, crawl under furniture, and move boxes in order to leap up and grab the handle of doors in order to open them. It’s all fairly simple stuff, though there is an urgency to my actions, as the unsettling sound design and occasional environmental context clues are really selling that I’m not alone in the house.
Plus, ya know, there’s that whole cannibalistic aspect of the first game in the back of my mind reminding me that there’s a good chance that I’m going to run into someone who wants to eat me. The original Little Nightmares reinforced the notion that you shouldn’t trust anyone or anything in this terrifying world–given what Six is willing to do in order to satiate her hunger, you’re not even sure you can trust yourself. Little Nightmares II builds on this unsettling feeling of mistrust by introducing a partner character you can’t directly control. She may be a familiar face, but your partnership is born out of necessity, not a mutual bond.