Little Nightmares 2 preview: Hospitals just got even creepier

Little Nightmares 2 Hospital Arms
Little Nightmares 2 Hospital Arms (Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Abandoned hospitals — or at least seemingly abandoned — are prime real estate for horror games, so of course Little Nightmares 2 has a section set in one of the creepiest hospitals I've ever had the displeasure to virtually walk through. (The complex relationship between hospitals/insane asylums and horror is a completely separate conversation).

Ahead of its release next February, I got to preview part of the Hospital section in Little Nightmares 2. When Little Nightmares 2 launches you can expect levels including the Wilderness, the School, the Hospital, and the Black Tower, all found throughout the Pale City, which you're attempting to navigate with the help of Six from the previous game.

It was only around a 30-minute demo and didn't feature the complete location, but I saw enough to get a good taste of it. I'm not big on horror games, but I played the first Little Nightmares and enjoyed it. Little Nightmares 2 feels very much the same in terms of gameplay, though the change in scenery changes the vibe a bit, and personally it feels creepier from the little that I've played.

Little Nightmares 2 is all about atmosphere

My demo started out much like you'd expect it to. I awaken in a dimly lit room, I don't know where I am, and there's creepy dismembered mannequins lying around — just the usual. You immediately get hit with the "insane asylum" vibes here. From this foyer I can see that I need to power up an elevator, but in order to do so I need to venture deeper into the building. That's always a good start where nothing could possibly go wrong.

You immediately get hit with the "insane asylum" vibes here.

Wandering through another room with mannequins and hanging limbs, I performed some simple platforming that amounted to moving and jumping over boxes. The platforming was not a shining star of the demo, but that's OK. What Little Nightmares is supposed to focus on is the dreadful atmosphere, and it nailed that in spades.

My first taste of a real enemy came in the form of a severed hand that detached itself from a mannequin. When I say this thing was quick, I'm not kidding. It scuttled across the floor and would stand up on the base of the palm and hike up its two front fingers, almost like a tarantula flashing its fangs in defense. It even hissed at me. Once this thing gets you, it's game over, and have to restart from the last checkpoint. This hand eventually chased me until I was able to find a hammer. A few swings of this and the hand crumpled up like a dead spider.

Little Nightmares 2 Hospital Hallway

Source: Bandai Namco (Image credit: Source: Bandai Namco)

As I would come to find out, the hands chasing me were the least of my worries. While motionless mannequins can be seen nearly everywhere, several of these come to life once you get too close. Only by shining a flashlight on them would they freeze in place, but this is difficult to do with one flashlight and a handful of mannequins rushing you from all angles. During these sections I tended not to overthink anything and just went for my old tried and true method: run as fast as I can screaming.

A grotesque monster lurks within the Hospital's basement.

Making my way through these enemies, all the while crawling through small vents and climbing miscellaneous objects to escape, I managed to get the two batteries I needed to power up the elevator at the beginning. I thought that my demo would end here, but it still had a little surprise in store to tease what's to come. A grotesque monster lurks within the Hospital's basement, and I do not look forward to getting a better look at it in the final game.

Little Nightmares 2 Hospital Big Nope

Source: Bandai Namco (Image credit: Source: Bandai Namco)

When it comes to the added element of another friendly NPC to help you, I didn't find Six all that helpful. There are few instances where I need her to help boost me up on a platform or try to pry wood off of a hole in the wall blocking our exit, but for the most part she's there as window dressing. For much of the demo I was separated for her completely because she couldn't follow me after I was boosted into another section. I can't say how important her role will be within the final game, but the demo didn't make Six seem all that important.

What was apparent throughout the entire demo was how good the sound design was. Sounds — and music — can make or break the tension of a horror experience. It's easily one of the most important aspects. Developer Tarsier Studios knows this and made sure to give that element a lot of love in the game.

If you were a fan of the first Little Nightmares, I imagine you'll like what the studio is doing with its sequel. Even though I only played a small portion of the game, it was clear that it's just doubling down on what made the first so great. None of the puzzles in my section were too difficult, but they fit the environment well. I wouldn't say I'm necessarily eager to see what the rest of the game has in store, but I'm definitely curious about this upcoming horror title.

Little Nightmares 2 releases on Feb. 11, 2021 for Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. It is also coming to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and PS5.

Jennifer Locke

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life, and is very happy Xbox is growing a stronger first-party portfolio. You can find her obsessing over Star Wars and other geeky things on Twitter @JenLocke95.