Little Nightmares 2, a new look at horror from Tarsier Studios

Little Nightmares 2, a new look at horror from Tarsier Studios
We have talked about Little Nightmares 2 on a couple of occasions, both related to a test of the game in its very early stages (you can read the last one here), and the impressions have always been positive: the only doubts will eventually dispel the review, since they are tied to the longevity and clarity of the story, both of which the original chapter lacked. Two weeks after its publication, we return to talk about the promising horror of Tarsier Studios, summarizing the main news and differences.

Starting with a brief analysis of the ending of the first chapter, including the DLC, to try to get a clearer picture of where this sequel might want to go. As we wrote above, the narration of Little Nightmares has always played on the say-not-say, turning out to be a bit too cryptic at the end to be fully appreciated. This is also due to the need to connect some points told outside the video game. Nonetheless, the developers must be recognized for the ability to answer some questions but at the same time open others on the mysterious and terrible world they have created: the same ones that the players have set themselves in seeing the first trailer of the sequel at the time. Let's try to clarify this aspect.

The ending of Little Nightmares

At the end of Little Nightmares we discover that Six's all-too-concrete nightmare takes place in a sort of underwater resort known as the Maw : Grotesque humanoid creatures are brought aboard, before setting sail for a secret location. It is also discovered that the Jaws appear at a different point each year to "fill up" with visitors, belonging to high society, who will never be heard of again. How or who built this structure is not explained. Guests of the Maw spend the entire journey gorging themselves on human flesh: on board there are in fact hundreds of children, and not only, who serve this purpose. At the helm of the Jaws is a rather mysterious figure known simply as the Lady, a woman quite different from all the disturbing creatures encountered up to that moment: dressed like a geisha, with delicate yet lethal movements, the Lady always wears a mask and she destroyed all mirrors except one, made of obsidian, which Six will use to defeat her. The theories about his person are different but the most reliable refers to comics, according to which the aforementioned mirrors show the deep desire of those who reflect in them: having the Lady already achieved her goal thanks to magic, that is to satisfy her vanity by becoming the only beautiful person in a world full of monsters, it is possible that the effect on her is reversed and shows her greatest fear. Getting older. In the DLC it is revealed how her face appears incredibly deformed in the reflection, making the hypothesis concrete and leading the Lady to hate her own image.

The Lady is defeated and devoured, again agonizing, from Six and although she has always been indifferent, if not cruel, to the other characters - whether they were children she transformed into gnomes or the guests of the Maw themselves - his obsession with the protagonist is the aspect of her most shrouded in mystery . Apparently, in the Lady's rooms it is possible to find some portraits of Six and this has led the players to believe that somehow the girl was her daughter; this until the publication of Very Little Nightmares, the game for mobile devices in which we learn about the true owner of the iconic yellow raincoat. The developers have deliberately played on this ambiguity to make believe that she and Six were the same person but, when it turns out that they are two distinct characters, the pieces begin to fall into place a bit. Particularly with the conclusion of the game, which sees the girl in the yellow raincoat die to save Six, who then she will pick up and wear the garment that made her so recognizable. The Lady's obsession with her could depend on several factors, all equally plausible: he holds her in some way responsible for her daughter's death, although it is not clear how she knew of the circumstances - the fact that a different person wears the raincoat might be enough of the daughter; or, along the lines of Snow White's stepmother, she obsessed with her own vanity, she simply wants to kill her daughter to remain the only "beauty of the realm", without understanding that there is another person under the raincoat. The latter hypothesis, however, would explain why the daughter is not with her mother in the Maw, having been forced to escape from her murderous madness.

The role of Little Nightmares II in the lore

After feeding on the Lady, Six gains her powers and passes through the Maw to the outside, absorbing the life of any host who tries to obstruct her. Here the game ends but some questions still have to be answered, first of all the hunger that grips Six - the same that led her to devour first the Fugitive, protagonist of the DLC transformed into a Nomino by the Lady, and then the latter. . Secondly, where are the Jaws headed, if they will continue to exist after the death of those who ruled them and especially if having absorbed the powers of the Lady is the reason why Six is ​​slowly fading: his goal, in Little Nightmares 2, is to arrive up to the Repeater because his hope of salvation would be found there. A structure that in a certain sense was anticipated precisely by the scene after the credits of the last DLC of Little Nightmares, in which a television is shown which, according to the few certain sources of the sequel, is the tool through which the Transmission of the tower spreads the evil that is devouring the world. Not only that, the city in which this structure is located, under the play of the Thin, would also seem to be the birthplace of the Lady herself - at least judging by the symbolism of the eyes that would unite the Maw to the dangerous Transmission of the Thin.

Not only. Little Nightmares II also seems to have links with Very Little Nightmares, thus proposing itself as a probable closure of the circle. Or at least as an aggregator of all the crumbs scattered in the previous chapters. The latest trailer released by Bandai Namco in the Gamescom period has in fact presented a new character: the Master. Already from the description of her, in which she is defined as sadistic, intolerant to disobedience and inclined to make children disappear from the face of the earth when they breathe, we can see the horrors that we will encounter when we confront her. Her clothing is very reminiscent of that of the teachers of the 10s of the twentieth century and the use of the ruler as one of the many punitive methods still refers to an "old-fashioned" teaching, it then depends from nation to nation when it was abolished, based on corporal punishment : an aspect that is linked to his sadistic personality. Furthermore, as happened with the Lady before her, the development of the Teacher is influenced by the Japanese imaginary, since her character is able to stretch her neck in the same way as the yokai Rokurokubi. Beyond this information, perfectly within reach, we return to the main topic: the connection of the Teacher with Very Little Nightmares and, equally plausible, with the narrative universe shown so far by Tarsier Studios.

It is about speculations that could be denied in full play but it cannot be denied that the suspicion remains. Starting with the influence that the character seems to have had on the kindergarten inside the Nursery: although different from the school shown in Little Nightmares II, there is no doubt that the room accessed in Very Little Nightmares has an educational purpose. If we pay attention to the design of the Nomini, after leaving the room, we can see seven children surrounded by a larger and more authoritarian figure that we can associate with the Teacher: the detail supporting this hypothesis is the skirt which, although stylized, her design presents. We know that the only characters to wear a skirt in Little Nightmares, of those known so far, are the girls belonging to the Bulli (that is, her students) and the Teacher herself. A fleeting clue but at the same time targeted enough to be taken into consideration.

Secondly, to connect the character with Very Little Nightmares we have a specific painting in which the Pretender is depicted, side by side. by two figures who have often been associated with his parents, sometimes with his guardians. Now that we are gathering more information about the Teacher, it becomes quite evident that the woman portrayed is her: both are wearing the same skirt, the same tights and the same shoes. While we find it difficult to believe that the Teacher is the Pretender's mother, we are much more likely to believe that she was her housekeeper instead of her - which would explain the presence of an accommodation next to the kindergarten and two bathrooms. distinct. A thesis further strengthened by the fact that the Pretender is defined as "the little, spoiled mistress of the Nest", at whose service we find the Butler: making a quick comparison, the male figure in the aforementioned painting is him, consequently the woman can only be the Teacher and cover, in fact, the role of educator.

There would then be a second theory, which always involves the Teacher and could even suggest how Little Nightmares II is actually another prequel and not a sequel, but it is so risky that we prefer to keep it for a later time. However, we could not help but notice, always in the perspective of the prequel / sequel doubt, that in this new chapter Six is ​​once again "the girl in white" just like in Very Little Nightmares and there seems to be no trace in her. of the hunger that tormented her throughout the first chapter (and she could have satisfied herself with the death of the Lady), or of the powers obtained at the end. There's still a veil of mystery too thick around the timeline in which Little Nightmares II takes place to go further complicate a cryptic plot. However, we do not feel to rule out the hypothesis.

Differences and novelties in gameplay

Little Nightmares II is developed in a similar way to its predecessor, therefore it shares several aspects in terms of gameplay: nevertheless, being set in a different and more wide-ranging context than the Maw, some changes have been made to offer a familiar game but at the same time more challenging, extended and long in terms of overall duration. The core of the game is once again the resolution of more or less complex environmental puzzles and enigmas to allow the new protagonist, Momo, to overcome the different scenarios that will appear before him, with related dangers of sorts. To make the difference this time will be the presence of Six, with whom we will meet in the very early stages of the game and who, as far as we know so far, will be by our side throughout the course of the adventure: there are occasions when she and Momo they separate for shorter or shorter periods, sometimes to solve a complex puzzle, other times for reasons not dependent on them.

In any case, Six is ​​driven by artificial intelligence and has proven itself in the current state a valid companion, characterized by that resourcefulness that distinguished her in the first chapter: there will be situations in which she will take the initiative, helping us to complete a puzzle that we could have done alone but taking twice as long. His is undoubtedly the most felt novelty in the gameplay, but there are other details such as the fact that Momo can swim underwater for short stretches, use objects within his reach for self-defense (in combo with Six it seems he is nevertheless able to handle real weapons), or, we only assume this, the ability to exploit televisions to move quickly between the various places. All this, combined with the variety of enemies and new environments, allows Little Nightmares 2 to stand out positively from the original and leave the feeling of a promising game in spite of the similarities with its predecessor.

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