“Keep in mind this is an unusual game!” – was the first I heard about Little Inferno, and unusual is a very good word to describe it. Too often these days, big developers are sticking with tried and tested formulas or just
The first sight you are greeted with is a dark, somewhat lonely piece of brickwork with an odd looking face in the centre – this is your “Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace” You’d better get used to it, as this is where almost all of the game takes place! After a quick briefing of the controls (Which consist of clicking anywhere to create fire, or dragging objects with the mouse) the fun begins. As far as gameplay goes, Little Inferno is extremely simple. There is one thing to do in this game, and that is to set things on fire and let them burn. Burning items gives you money to buy more things to burn, and so on. You can pile loads of items on top of each other and light them all up and watch the items slowly disintegrate into a pile of useless ash. It’s extremely satisfying, to say the least!
One of the features that really stands out in Little Inferno is the absolutely huge selection of items – 140 buyable items in total. However, don’t expect anything to act as it would if it was tossed into a flaming inferno in our world. Little inferno aims to be different, and does it in style. Essential household items are aplenty, but remember – when you send the toaster to its fiery grave – bread has feelings too! Other items range from children’s alphabet bricks all the way to mini galaxies (complete with their own gravitational pull). Most of the items are quite odd, such as a school bus that looks like an ordinary toy. However, when it’s burned, children’s screams are heard as it drives at speed into whatever’s in front of it. There’s also an old lady, someone else’s credit card and plenty of items that are references to other games (I always find this a nice touch).
Items are bought from a catalogue and delivered to your fireplace. Once you have bought all of the items in a catalogue, you can purchase another catalogue. This is one of the many satirical elements that Little Inferno contains – more than likely a little prod at consumerism. This game definitely isn’t afraid to make fun of every day issues. One item in particular comes to mind – Blankity Bank – “Giving out pretend loans since the late 80’s” Which speaks for itself. As well as having to buy the catalogues in the game, you’re also required to complete a certain number of combos. These combos represent the vast majority of the gameplay, and there are 99 in total. However this is where the game starts showing some of its flaws. Combos require 2 or 3 items to be burned at the same time, however you aren’t told which items to burn. Instead, the combos are named to give hints, such as ‘Spring time’ which is seeds and an alarm clock. That one is pretty obvious, but some are stupidly obscure – requiring you to rely almost completely on trial and error until you finally come across the solution. This gets boring pretty quickly, especially if you just need to find that one more combo to be able to buy the next catalogue! Another annoyance rears its ugly head here – the delivery and restocking times. When you buy an item, it a has delay before it will appear in your inventory. This ranges from 10 seconds all the way up to 5 minutes. So when you’re at the end of the game and trying to get the final few combos nailed down, you could end up waiting for 5 minutes doing absolutely nothing while your item is arriving! I’m sure in the developer’s minds, this is another satirical poke at something like casual gaming or even online shopping. Even so, staring at a game and waiting is so boring at times, I wish they’d left it out. Luckily the developers devised a way to skip the waiting times, using ‘Tomorrow Stamps’ . The purpose of these stamps is to speed up the time it takes for the items to be delivered to your inventory. You gain them by completing combos, and less frequently by burning items. However, as the vast majority of these stamps come from completing combos, you will find yourself running out of them and getting even more frustrated at the often trial and error nature of the combos.
Despite these flaws, little inferno completely won me over on its look and feel. The attention to detail that has been put into this game is incredible. Visually, the game looks similar to World of Goo. Indie developer Tomorrow Corporation (Yes, that’s the developer’s name and the company in the game too) shares staff with the team who made world of goo, and needless to say; they have done a very good job. There’s something about the slightly out of proportion eyes and odd bodies of the items that really add to the atmosphere of the game. Naturally the fire is rendered beautifully, and certain objects can also affect the flame. This is mainly by changing its colour, but there’s some other very nice effects that can be discovered later on. It would be nice to see some objects interacting with each other without having to be torched, as they are clearly meant to go together – it could even serve as a hint system for the combos.
The story in Little Inferno is very minimal and it feels like it was an afterthought. You receive letters from a little girl, who seems to be enjoying burning things as much as you do. Occasionally she asks you to send her items, or sends you something. There’s also a weather man who gives you weather reports. Removing the story wouldn’t really detract from the main gameplay at all, and I think that more story based gameplay could have added so much more to the atmosphere already created. What’s even worse is that the best part of the story is presented in a completely different way at the very end of the game. I think some Little Inferno players will lack the patience to complete the whole game and therefore miss the beautiful ending.
I personally love Little Inferno, however I can see why a lot of people wouldn’t. The gameplay is simplistic, and the story could do with improvement. But Little Inferno isn’t a game, it’s a fireplace simulator, the best fireplace simulator ever made. And if you don’t take games too seriously and want something that dares to be different – this game is a definite buy.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.