Back in the day when the Wii was at it’s height of popularity, I had gotten one mainly for the third Metroid Prime game that was due to launch for it. But that was not the only game I got for it, starting with games like Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess or Conduit. However, at the time, a little download exclusive did catch my eye called World of Goo. This game was a physics building game which was bright, colorful, and actually fun. The developer impressed me, especially with how meta they brought the whole package at the end.
So when I found this game was launching, I was interested enough to check it out… and was greeted with a cartoon of kids celebrating how they were burning their toys and memories in a fire place, ultimately burning the place down to a catchy little tune you might expect in a toy-commercial on TV back in the 80s. I laughed, probably a lot more then should have, and showed it to everyone I could. As soon as it was on sale, I picked up a copy, and it got lost in the backlog.
Now as we come to the end of the #100daysofgaming for Extra Life, the game showed up in my selection and I could not resist. I am glad I did not.
Story: Congratulations on your new Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace! Hours of fun await you as light all kinds of things on fire and watch the fire glow, change color, and do amazing things with destruction of all the toys you once played with! And when you are done burning your stuff, you will also have access to a catalog of new toys designed for your burning pleasure! So have fun and keep lighting those fires!
No, really, this is core story of the entire game. You play as a child who has just received and had this fireplace installed into their house where you are expected to burn your toys and buy new ones. However, such cycles must eventually end… and with that note you also have your first hint of the much deeper themes happening in the background of this tale… sometimes sad, sometimes encouraging, but always with a little warmth and a lot of dark humor. And all this bundled into a package simple enough it could be in a child’s book… but one you should read for yourself.
Graphics: Little Inferno takes place largely in two scenes: the fireplace, and the catalog. The fireplace, obviously, is where you burn stuff. In this screen, you will see a display to show you how much money you have at the top, a shelf at the bottom of the screen to display the mail and inventory, and a nice big fireplace with a face-like gear structure in the center of the back. The style of this display will look familiar to anyone who has played the other two games this developer has released (World of Goo and Human Resource Machine) and and will instantly make them feel at home.
The only real exception to the style in this screen is the game’s main effect, fire. And that fire looks exceptional, showing the one element to the game meant to look realistic very well. You will watch things burn as they (depending on the material) blacken, ignite, shatter, explode, or even do much more comical things before finally giving up the ghost of being anything more then ashes in the making. And while the fire aims for a bit more realism, the style of the objects fit in with the rest of the scene far more, although using this same “simple” game-look to add personality, which they pretty much all have in spades.
The only other scene for most of the game is the catalog, which will take the same art style as the most of the game, but use it to display a 4x4 set of toys for you to buy. It’s simple, sweet, to the point, and really both screens give you exactly what you need to play and little else, resulting in a welcoming and clean looking environment emptied out just for you to cause your havoc in.
Sound: Little Inferno is not a game that is driven heavily by it’s audio content in the least. There is very little in the way of music in this game at all, choosing instead to use fairly generic background music which can amp up at very specific points as you progress, but nothing will remain in your memory for long. It’s not designed to.
Nor is there much voice acting. In fact if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve already seen the only part of the game with any at all. Do not get me wrong, it’s entertaining, as this trailer was all the developer needed to convince me to pick this game up, but… a small “instruction video” in the game is not much content to talk about.
No, the only real stand out here is in the sound effects, and little of this is really so much about quality as much as comedy. You see, nothing in this game tries to sound real, aside from fire and explosions, both of which sound great and the latter of which may make you think twice about turning up the base since it can be kinda deep to begin with.
But on the other hand it will be the toys you order that steal the show here. Some don't do much but crackle, pop, or shatter, and sound pretty good doing it, but then you get things like the bus which you hear the driver scream in panic while you ignite it or the game system which starts playing upbeat 8-bit tunes before breaking down in the heat of the fire. There are a lot of different things the toys do, and your favorites will stick with you well after the game is over.
Gameplay: At it’s heart, Little Inferno is a very simple game. You are given a few items to burn, which you do by dragging them into the fireplace. While your mouse is in this area of the screen, holding down the right mouse button keeps a small flame at the cursor, and holding this to the side of whatever you dragged there burns it. Once you have watched it burn away, the item will drop a coin worth some amount of cash and potentially a ticket.
You then collect the coin and use the cash to buy new things from the catalog, which will arrive in your mailbox to be unwrapped in a given amount of time to repeat the process. If you just can’t wait, you can spend tickets to get immediate delivery.
This is literally the entire mechanics set of the game, and you progress by doing exactly two things: buying at least one of everything in the latest catalog and completing combinations to unlock the next one. And this is where the game offers it’s small amount of challenge. There is a panel you can bring down to list potential combinations of items by name, but you only get a set of empty boxes next to it letting you know how many items you need. Your goal is to figure out what toys fill those boxes. For example, a mid-game combo is called “casual gamer” which the developers use to make fun of themselves a bit, is completed by burning a copy of World of Goo and goos from that game together. Most of these combos are only two toys (not that you cant burn more at the same time and still earn them) but a few use three or even four.
Once you have burned at least one of everything in your latest catalog and found enough of these combinations, you can buy the next catalog. There are seven of them in all for you to open. And while you will need to fill in around 50 or so combos by the end of the game, there are at least 100 or more to be found, so if one leaves you scratching your head, you are hardly stuck. In fact this game is very easy to complete, leaning instead on the black humor that permeates it to keep you going rather then challenge. But considering the game is a few scant hours long, that isn’t too big a deal as it’s over before it overstays it’s welcome. I personally finished it in one single sitting.
Bugs: There wasn’t a single bug in this game while I played. It’s simple, but the game ran flawlessly.
Overall: Little Inferno is a fun little title, but not so much because of the gameplay itself as the style and humor that keeps it interesting. You will literally spend almost all of the game in two screens doing three things, but that time will accompany you with cats that fill the fireplace with poop, snake in a cans where the joke is that it’s not snakes, but hypodermic needles, extermination toys that will set fire to things you haven't managed yet, nuclear bombs, the moon, and god knows what else. The real secret to how fun this game is is the sheer variety and dark humor in the toys you will burn and watching the results. There is just enough here to enjoy to the fullest and be done about the time you finish the game itself.
If you are looking for something easy, funny, and relaxing to play for a night or two after work or school, this game can certainly fit the bill depending on your sense of humor. But if you are looking for something with deep gameplay and skill-based mechanics, you are barking up the wrong tree here… the only skill this game might help you develop is word-play.
Source’s Listed System Requirements:
- 1.5 Ghz processor
- 1 GB RAM
- Shader Model 2.0 and Direct X 9c (so if it came out in the past 10 years, you should be good)
- Windows 7, Vista, or XP
- AMD FX 8350 (8 cores) running at 4 Ghz
- 16 GB RAM
- NVidia Geforce 960 GTX with 4GB VRAM
- Windows 10