Little Inferno, developed by the Tomorrow Corporation, is one of few Wii U eShop titles available on launch day. From the trailer that I had seen before the launch of Little Inferno, the game looked pretty disturbing. What really grabbed my attention the most when watching the trailer though was the unique art style and the extremely catchy tune that plays throughout the teaser. I typically prefer to purchase retail titles at my local retailer than download games. Little Inferno is probably one of the few reasons that I decided to even purchase an eShop card when I went to the store to pick up my new shiny Wii U during launch day. While many may say that Little Inferno is not a game, I have to wholeheartedly disagree.
During a majority of Little Inferno the player will be staring into a fireplace, which the game calls the Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace. I know this may sound ridiculously boring but there is actually a point to this. While playing Little Inferno the goal is to keep warm next to the fire and accomplish this by burning items in the Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace. The controls for the game are very easy and involve only point and click motions on the Wii U GamePad screen. I would say the controls are easy enough for the youngest of children to understand but I also caution that this is not a game for children.
The first fire in Little Inferno is created by burning the ‘Terms & Conditions’ pages that are provided and allow the player to become familiar with how the rest of the game plays out. After that the player will continue to feed the fire within the Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace using various items that can be ordered from catalogs and letters that are received in the mail.
Coins and postage stamps jump out of the flames as items and letters are burned, and are again collected with a simple point and click control scheme, as they continue emerge from the flames. Coins are added to the available cash total which can be later used to order even more items from various catalogs which are unlocked as the game progresses. When an item is ordered from one of the catalogs the item is ‘shipped’ to the player and the resulting package appears immediately but can’t be opened until the ‘shipping’ timer comes full circle. The timer will fill up but for the more expensive items this process can take several minutes. Postage stamps which are collected can be used to ‘Express Ship’ items and speed up the time it takes before the items within a package can be added to the fire. Items also take time to ‘restock’ in the catalog and this is controlled via a cool down timer. Little Inferno sounds pretty cut and dry when we just speak of the basic gameplay and controls but there is much more to Little Inferno than just staring at a fireplace and burning stuff.
Little Inferno is a pleasant, addictive, and disturbing puzzle game. The indie eShop title has a story which is sprinkled throughout the gameplay and a highly addictive combo system. The letters received during Little Inferno which come from a few other NPC characters in the game, such as the Weather Man, and are used to perpetuate the story as items continue to burn at an alarming rate in the Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace. There is a wide variety of things that will end up being ordering, shipped, and inevitably burned .
Now without giving too much away I will explain why the game seems innocent enough but is actually quite off-putting. A couple of the objects that are thrown into the fire include a stuffed cat or a toy school bus ,which start off delightful or charming, but things take a more disturbing tone when they are set ablaze. The kitten shoots across the fireplace like a rocket due to a stream of its own poop and the flaming school bus takes off across the screen while the children shriek and scream inside of the bus until it disappears in a fiery explosion. Most items in Little Inferno can also be burned simultaneously to complete combos and allow access to new catalogs where you will find all new items and be able to discover even more item combinations. Little Inferno’s addictiveness for me came from the constant flow of combos to unlock and discover. This combo system sucked me in and I felt absolutely compelled to find out what every single last one of combos was. For the most part the item combinations are pretty simple to figure out and often employ a play on words to increase the difficulty. I did find myself scratching my head for a few of them and had to call on my wife and stepson for some help. Little Inferno seems like it would be the perfect game to add some additional DLC packs to and DLC would definitely increase the replay value of the game and also increase the length of the game. Don’t get me wrong, you can replay the game after the final scenes play out but you are limited to burning the items you have already unlocked. There are no new catalogs, items, or combos which may not be a bad thing if you could not figure out some of the combos before the game ended.
Unlike many other games it is very relaxing to play and enjoyable to watch! I enjoyed watching others play Little Inferno almost as much as I enjoyed playing the game myself. Even though Little Inferno is very much a single player game, everything that the player does on the GamePad is visible on the television screen. This provides the opportunity for others to become involved with the game as you play through it. People are correct in saying that Little Inferno does not take very much brain power to play. But I found that it was a great way to waste time, but those who are saying that Little Inferno is not a game are wrong. Little Inferno is definitely a great way to mindlessly waste time but it is still a lot of fun and sometimes pretty challenging.
My favorite part of Little Inferno was the unique art style, the outstanding sound design, and the small portions of story that evoked a smattering of emotion as you play. My biggest disappointment was the length of the game and the story. I was pretty disappointed by the length of the game and while Little Inferno was fun I felt I should have got more for my $15. My wife, stepson, and I were all able to finish the game in less than 5 hours during each of our respective playthroughs. The story also fell a little short. It was engaging while I played Little Inferno, and was receiving letters from the different characters, but when a large chuck of the story plays out at the end of the game I didn’t feel like it fit in with the rest of the game and kind of fell flat for me. I liked the fact that the story remained interactive as Little Inferno reached its conclusion. But I feel like I may have missed the point or moral of the story. Otherwise, Little Inferno is a fun and addictive little puzzle game that is full of adult innuendos and is not recommended for any age group younger than early teens. I hope to see more great games that could come from Tomorrow Corporation and hope that they are just as fun and interesting as Little Inferno was.