Little Inferno for Wii U, PC, iOS, OS X, Linux and Android
Well, this is an odd one. Little Inferno is certainly unique, I’ll have to give it that. From the creator of World of Goo comes the next logical step…a game about burning things in a virtual fireplace?
So, Little Inferno comprises almost entirely of burning things in a fireplace. You receive a series of catalogues, with later ones needing to be unlocked, filled with products that can be burnt, often producing particular effects. Burning creates more money, which is then used to buy more stuff to burn, with a wait period in place for new orders. The burning itself is accomplished by controlling the fire on the touch screen of the gamepad, and is curiously cathartic and fun. The main meat of the gameplay comes from finding ‘Combos’, combinations of items which are hinted at through clues. The first combo is called ‘Bike Pirate’, simply meaning you burn a bike and burn a toy pirate at the same time. They get pretty clever, and are needed to unlock new catalogues and proceed through the story.
Ah yes, the story. The ‘Little Inferno’ fireplace, a new product marketed at children by the ‘Tomorrow Corporation’ has been installed at the home of our protagonist. The world is gripped by cold, and burning these items is marketed as both fun, and the only way to keep you warm. You’ll receive periodic letters from a handful of characters who fill in the gaps and give the player snippets of information about this deeply strange and disturbing world. Little Inferno isn’t quite apocalyptic; it seems like a world on the cusp of an apocalypse, with everyone gripped by an unspoken foreboding about what’s coming. It’s also really funny, and has an ending that truly blindsided me. Little Inferno is a game which sticks in the mind not for its mechanics, but it’s truly disturbing world and darkly funny characters.
The style of the game is reminiscent of World of Goo, with lots of buggy eyes and cartoony visuals, but put through a black and white Victorian lens. Everything is exaggerated, and the effect is oddly creepy. The fire effects are good, they would very much have to be in a game like this. The music is excellent too, with a memorable and evocative main theme as well as an amusing jingle selling the Little Inferno fireplace.
Some have quibbled over the ‘value’ of this game, questioning the light gameplay. I suppose if what you’re after is raw gameplay, fair enough, but I actually sunk a reasonable amount of time into this game and found it genuinely really rewarding. I got it on sale though, so perhaps I’m feeling warmer towards it for that reason. Get it? Warmer? I’ll show myself out.
Anyway, Little Inferno is certainly unique, and whilst it’s gameplay isn’t particularly complex (but it is oddly compelling), it’s creepy atmosphere and dark sense of humour comfortably make up for it.