Sunday, 1 December 2013

Fighting Fire with, well... Fire – A ‘Little Inferno’ Review

Fighting Fire with, well... Fire – A ‘Little Inferno’ Review


 By Owen Jones (Indie Game Pyromaniac) 

I’ve literally just finished playing Little Inferno, and I can confidently say it’s among the stupidest and strangest games I’ve played, and that’s by no means a bad thing. Little Inferno is, as the title suggests, a game about burning things, so if you don’t particularly fancy defacing property or getting in trouble with the law then Little Inferno is a great way to satisfy the pyromaniac within you. I have no idea who thought up this game or who thought it was a good idea, but I’m damn glad they did.

Here’s a wacky trailer for a wacky game:

The trailer doesn’t show any gameplay so I’ll try to briefly explain that now. Clicking and holding the mouse creates fire for you to burn things in your 'Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace'. Items cost money and take time to deliver, but do not fear you gain money and stamps by burning things for reasons that are never fully explained, so you can buy more items to burn and receive them faster. There are also combinations for you to find, adding a puzzle element to the game. Though the gameplay gets very dull after two hours or so watching things burn was more fun than I expected, and managed to keep my interest for long enough to complete the game, though only just.
And that’s my primary criticism, the game gets very dull. It’s trying to tell us something about video games, micro transactions and so forth, and though this is interesting stuff it sacrifices a lot of the fun I originally got from Little Inferno. Having to wait for the items to be delivered before I could burn them was a pain, and though the stamps that speed the delivery up lessen the blow they weren’t enough, and as a result I spent many minutes waiting rather than playing.

Prometheus stole fire from the Gods so that Man might burn miniature scarecrows
The game is surprisingly theme orientated. Consumerism plays a huge part in Little Inferno, as does its critique of Video Games and its effects, as I mentioned before. The plot is existent though not prominent until the end. As you burn things letters are delivered from your neighbour or the Weather Forecast reporting on how cold it is. The writing was often humorous; but never really laugh out loud funny, though it broke up the gameplay well.
The game takes an unexpected twist towards the end, becoming surprisingly charming and even heart warming (no pun intended). I don’t want to spoil it to you but the gameplay and even tone of the game changes completely, and in my opinion for the better.
Er, thanks... I guess
The ending is terrific; it’s just getting there that’s the problem. I appreciate what Tomorrow Corporation were trying to tell us, but there was just too much grinding and waiting to get any real joy after the first few catalogues of items.
And this is a great shame because watching things burn is a lot of fun. The fire animations are gorgeous and the developers have poured a lot of creativity into the items and how they burn. Perhaps with more stamps or shorter deliveries I might have appreciated all this a lot more, but as it was I was left merely smirking at the game’s gags.
And the themes are interesting, and I can't help but feel they could have found a way of discussing them without all the grinding. As it is I feel the sacrifices to the gameplay are too great a price to pay, which is strange because I often disagree in cases like this. I think, however, that the general premise of the game is enough to convey the portrayal of consumerism, and though the delivering of items expands on this it isn't necessary and is just too long to wait between burning things (which really is a lot of fun).
Why settle for a bike or a pirate when you can have both? Because it's a stupid idea? Yeah, good point.

As I’ve already mentioned, once you’ve burnt everything under (and including) the Sun the game takes a turn for the better, justifying completing the main section of the game.The combinations does add a layer of replayability, but I have no desire whatsoever in trying to find all 100 of them.
But does it justify buying the game? Certainly not at full price, currently just under £7 (around $11.50 or €8.50). Considering I got it in a Humble Bundle it felt more like a nice inclusion than a full purchase, and I’m not sure how I’d see the game if it were the other way round. Though that Bundle’s long gone if you can get it in another bundle or in a particularly good sale then it would definatly be worth buying, but not at full price. Don’t get me wrong, Little Inferno isn’t a bad game, just rendered dull and repetitive by a few unnecessary mechanics. There are defiantly some very good things in here, but these are unfortunately separated by these mechanics.

You can buy Little Inferno from Steam or directly from the developers, Tomorrow Corporation. It's also available for the Wii U or your tablet/phone (which might work better than on the computer).

Generally good advice for life

No comments:

Post a Comment