Bottom line: This latest endeavor from Tarsier Studios is a great improvement over its predecessor and delivers on its promises of a world full of "charming horror" perfectly. Little Nightmares 2 is unsettling, tense, and downright terrifying at times without ever losing the innocent exterior that draws you in. Definitely one of the first must-play games of 2021; it's got the benefit of being included at no extra charge in Stadia Pro for all subscribers. You do not need to have played the previous game before playing this one, but it will enhance the story's impact.
- Overwhelming sense of terror and anxiety
- Deeply tense atmosphere
- Gorgeously creepy environments and enemy designs
- Unsettling soundtrack and general sound design
- Trial and error structure gets a little tedious
- Some controls are finicky
- Very minor bugs
All too often, you can classify a video game sequel in one of two ways. Either it will stay too close to the original's formula and fail to deliver much that's new or notable, or it will break too far away from what made the previous entry succeed and lose its way.
But every now and then, a game like Little Nightmares 2 releases that builds on what its predecessor did well, changes what didn't work, and elevates everything to new heights within a fresh package that feels exciting in all the right ways. It's immediately one of the best Stadia games on the platform. Stadia doesn't get a ton of new releases each month, but on the bright side, very few of its games are duds.
Little Nightmares 2 review Story, Gameplay, and Presentation
|Category||Little Nightmares 2|
|Title||Little Nightmares 2|
|Genre||Puzzle-Platformer / Horror|
|Play Time||6 hours|
|Release Date||Feb. 10, 2021|
It didn't take long for me to fall in love with Little Nightmares 2. Getting to play the entire game at no extra charge via Stadia Pro is a great perk since the breezy six-hour runtime is easy to blast through in just one or two sittings depending on how engrossed you become. Perhaps what surprised me most is that, for a game that doesn't have an explicit "plot" necessarily, the environmental storytelling speaks very strongly throughout. It doesn't take much detective work or inference to get a feel for what's happening in the twisted world of Little Nightmares 2, and the more you pay attention, the more you look beyond the surface and take in the atmosphere, the more disturbing it all becomes.
I don't want to spoil much here, but the general gist is that you take control of a little boy named Mono as you make your way through a twisted world that looks and feels similar to The Maw from the previous game but actually spans multiple environments this time around, from a creepy school to a terrifying hospital. Not long into the journey, you'll meet Six, the main protagonist from the first game, who follows you around on your adventure and helps you solve puzzles. Her AI is passable but bugged out on me three times over the course of the game's runtime resulting in Six just not moving and getting stuck somewhere. I'd eventually have to restart the Checkpoint to force her to respawn at my side, which always fixed the problem. Not a big deal.
Little Nightmares 2 has you taking Mono and Six through all manner of terrifying situations. The hospital stands out for me, besides the finale area, as the most unsettling because I have a particular aversion to mannequins and non-moving bodies that suddenly move when you're not looking at them. Well, the entire hospital chapter is built around headless "patients" that creep towards you if you're not aiming your flashlight at them. Several puzzles require letting them walk towards you just enough or quickly running through a crowded room to the other side without getting grabbed. On more than one occasion, Little Nightmares 2 made my skin crawl, and I mean that in the best way possible.
Visually, it's not jaw-dropping, but it's just atmospheric enough to set the mood for the immaculate sound design to take over. Rainy streets, foreboding hallways, and the scratch of chalk on a chalkboard rang in my ears while creeping in the shadows. The simplified visuals and muted color palette do a great job of elevating other aspects of the adventure.
My only real issue beyond the minor bugs was that I eventually grew tired of the "trial and error" design, in which you'll die in the same chase or same trap five or six times before finally getting past it, just because it's unclear what to do or where to go until you die enough while trying out solutions. I understand the need to build tension, but it got annoying by the end. That and some of the controls, like sprinting and jumping to grab a ledge, were a bit finicky and inaccurate at times. Other than that, it's about as perfect of an atmospheric horror puzzle game as you could get with a smooth story arc that doesn't overstay its welcome.
For a more in-depth analysis of the game itself as a whole, check out our Little Nightmares 2 review over on Windows Central. Now let's dive into the differences for the Stadia version of the game.
Little Nightmares 2 review Stadia performance and comparisons
Little Nightmares 2 plays great on Stadia, and I never once felt like I was settling for a streamed version of the game. Luckily, since it's not a very demanding game visually and features relatively slow gameplay, the general structure and pacing have the benefit of being insulated from any potential hiccups you might have from a slow or inconsistent network. I throttled it down to 720P, and it still looked great to me, thanks to the general art direction and design. It runs smoothly at 4K if you have that capability, but it's not really necessary in this case if you want to conserve some of your data a bit.
The majority of my time with Little Nightmares 2 on Stadia was spent via Chromecast with the Stadia controller on a 1080P TV, although I did test it on a 4K display, and it looked sharper there, obviously. I also played on my 1440P monitor via the Microsoft Edge browser and had no issues. Latency wasn't noticeable at all for me. I had two instances throughout my six hours when the connection would dip a tiny bit, causing me to lose input for around 5-10 seconds, but it quickly restored itself. Thankfully neither instance occurred during a chase scene or a precision platforming segment.
I went ahead and tried out Little Nightmares 2 on mobile using both a Stadia controller and using the touchscreen controls, and it ran great. Mobile is still the overall most consistent way to play Stadia, for me at least, but I prefer a larger screen when possible. Touch screen controls are fine for this game since you don't need to press many buttons simultaneously. However, sprinting into a jump and then a ledge grab can be tough without physical buttons and triggers. It's completely playable, though on touchscreen-only but is obviously inferior.
I played Little Nightmares 2 a little bit on PC natively as well to compare, and, anecdotally, I don't see a difference. It looks and plays great on Stadia comparatively, and I don't think you're losing out on any performance or technical flourishes by using Google's cloud streaming platform.
According to a SpeedTest right now, I've got a 589Mbps download speed, 17Mbps upload speed, and 27ms of ping on Comcast XFINITY as I write this. Google recommends at least 10Mbps download speed for 720p streaming, 20Mbps download speed for 1080p streaming, and at least 35Mbps download speed for 4K streaming.
Personally, I pay an extra fee to have unlimited data on my personal home network. But for those without that option, data usage is a big factor for Stadia games.
Since Little Nightmares 2 is about six hours long, you're looking at around 100GB of data usage total to play the game in 4K, or around 30GB for 1080P. That number will obviously vary greatly depending on your network stability, connection quality, and amount of time spent with the game.
Little Nightmares 2 is a linear single-player game, so it doesn't take advantage of any special Stadia features like Stream Connect, State Share, and so on. You can stream the game directly to a YouTube channel if you're using the web browser version of Stadia, though, which is, of course, a nice benefit of the platform. Besides being included in Stadia Pro at no extra charge, there is nothing setting the Stadia version apart from its other platform counterparts.
Little Nightmares 2 review Should you buy it?
Little Nightmares 2 is a textbook example of how to make a great sequel without straying too far away from what worked in the previous entry. The sense of foreboding terror, overwhelming tension, and pure creepiness are still here, but it spans across a more diverse adventure with more nuance and depth. Mono and Six's relationship feels like a gradual inevitability, more so than a tacked-on mechanic, and despite there being no spoken dialogue between the two characters, it never stopped feeling as authentic and meaningful as any other friendship in a game.
4.5 out of 5
If you're into subtle horror and don't mind getting creeped out a bit, Little Nightmares 2 is an easy recommendation that is absolutely worth the price of Stadia Pro in and of itself.
Little Nightmares 2 on Stadia
Creeping among giants
Little Nightmares 2 is definitely one of the first must-play games of 2021, and it's got the benefit of being included at no extra charge in Stadia Pro for all subscribers. This latest endeavor from Tarsier Studios is a great improvement over its predecessor and absolutely delivers on its promise of a world full of "charming horror" perfectly. Little Nightmares 2 is unsettling, tense, and downright terrifying at times without ever losing the innocent exterior that draws you in.
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