Look, let me put it this way. I’m in the middle of all of the following things:
- A 1000+ page fantasy novel by someone else
- The stupidly long process of creating a novel myself
- A couple of AAA gaming titles that take 25+ hours to finish
- ….ANOTHER 1000+ page fantasy novel by someone else
- About three television shows that stretch on forever.
I’m not complaining. I’m just saying, there’s something to be said for the casual game, a genre that is being consistently re-defined and refined in the age of mobile gaming. Enter, Little Inferno, which I was able to tidy up in a little over two hours.
Ahhhh, yes. I can complete something.
Little Inferno‘s attempting to play with a lot here. Mostly, it’s a success. The creators of the ingenious puzzler World of Goo have set about creating a fun recreation game that is also part puzzler, part light entertainment, part narrative, part existential philosophical statement.
You’re a child in an eternally snowing world. You receive, as all children do, a ‘Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace’ in order to entertain yourself and burn EVERYTHING you own. And so, the game goes like this: you sit in front of the fire, browse through a catalogue, order a variety of toys and objects, they are delivered, and then you burn them. When you burn them, more magic coins appear, which you then use to buy more toys, more burning, etc.
Sound tedious? Well, to be honest, it is after a while. But I was surprised how long they managed to keep me going. But the last forty-five minutes I was in there just to get to the end. And for that, the narrative is clever. You receive mysterious letters from all sorts of people throughout your time in front of the fireplace, and it leads to some interesting (although painfully vague) questions about gaming overall. The letters promise escape, or claim that the weather is worsening and that you should absolutely stay inside and keep yourself warm. The ending, which breaks from the entire format of the game and concludes the narrative somewhat satisfactorily, is daring. It’s interesting, but I couldn’t tell you what these ingenious game designers were actually trying to say. Is it about gaming? Is it about existence? Is it about death?
…or is it just about burning things?
For raising these questions along, Little Inferno should be applauded. Of course, the design is beautifully drawn in all its glorious early days of Tim Burton-esque style.
If you want a good couple of hours spent on interesting and innovative gameplay, I suggest a download. It’s available on Mac, iOS, Linux, Windows, and even Wii U from here.