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Little Inferno

2012-12-12_00004

We all knew that kid on the block who loved to play with fire. Our parents warned and assured us that we would set the house ablaze one day if we kept that kind of company. Even though we might have agreed with the dangers, it sure was fun to see the match ignite and witness the bright, yellow beast claim whatever it touched, understanding the obsession one could have. What happens if this catches on fire? Will that even burn? How many things can we cook at once? It was a game and had endless possibilities. 20 years later, developer Tomorrow Corporation made that game with the same experimentation and mesmerizing qualities of the real thing, only a hell of a lot safer.

You see through the eyes of a little boy excited to play with his brand new Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace, a gift so fantastic, all other gifts become fuel for its festivities. After burning the Terms & Conditions, and a few thank you letters from the manufacturer, you’re ready to throw anything and everything you’ve ever loved into the fire, desperate to never let the flame die out. And why would you want to? News reports stress that it’s been freakishly cold outside for months. Every letter in the mail (including a few from an admirer and fellow Little Inferno owner) encourages you not to go outside. Just stay in. Enjoy your new toy. There’s nothing for you out there.

2012 12 12 00002 600x375 Little Inferno

Preeetty…

A catalogue full of objects to burn opens up at the beginning of the game. Everything costs a certain amount of coin, but any object destroyed in your Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace provides a profit to go back to your magazine and buy more soon-to-be-blackened items.

How is this a game? It isn’t, exactly, in the sense of what we’ve been taught is a game in our fast-paced digital age of consoles and high-end PCs, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still a game. Burning certain objects together provide satisfying bonuses and something a little different to ogle at every time. A very long list of these combos are given to you with only a short title for each one acting as a clue for what to use. The Movie Night Combo is achieved by lighting up a T.V. and an ear of corn. The Seafarers Combo requires a toy pirate and steam boat to scorch together. This provides the kind of experimentation you’d expect when playing with fire and inspires you to find more combos, so you can unlock more objects, allowing you to make more combos, etc.

The only detractor from the experience is the “shipping ” required for every object after you order it. This is a small amount of time the game forces you to wait after you’ve purchased something to set ablaze. Creating combos will get you faster shipping to soften the blow, but the wait times simply aren’t needed and takes you out of the experience as you sit with literally nothing to do but stare at the clock. It’s also counterintuitive since the game promotes experimentation but penalizes you for every item you want to experiment with.

2012 12 12 00005 600x375 Little Inferno

Mail order toys to burn!

Little Inferno might seem like the kind of passive experience that goes on forever, but there is a purpose and a narrative to it all. More letters continuously pour in throughout the game about the outside world, foreshadowing what kind of events might transpire as you’re stuck inside, staring into the blaze. These infrequent story elements keep with the game’s slow pace and provide a subtle reminder that this is all going somewhere. One of the first things a letter tells you is, “There are no points. There is no score. You are not being timed.” But not too far after, it states, “There is bound to be an end.”

Throughout the game, you’ll find yourself relating to the little boy you play, noticing the desire to keep clicking away, finding the fire too hypnotizing to turn it off. Some objects explode. Some burn green. Some simply shatter. And some create grand parades that, in turn, also catch on fire (and might explode). It’s fun to simply watch and ignore the distractions around you. There’s an endless amount of combinations. So much to kindle.

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Letter from the outside.

Some might be turned off by the game’s tranquil flow and lack of bells and whistles, but it’s these “downfalls” that ultimately make this such a unique title. It’s the kind of game that haunts you when you don’t play it. You can almost see the flames hours after you’ve decided to take a break. With a uniquely gritty yet childish art style and dauntingly powerful soundtrack, you’ll find yourself returning to your new toy, eager to spend hours seeing everything it can do. It may be a little over-priced at $15, but Little Inferno will make you forget the world and stay “warm in the glow of your high definition entertainment product.”

The Good

Ridiculously mesmerizing | Endless combinations | Fantastic art style and music

The Bad

Wait times for "shipping"

4/5

Little David Galanter grew up in Orange County, CA loving videogames and anything else that repelled girls. After getting his Bachelor's Degree in Theatre Arts, David decided to start contributing his soft silky words to the world via online media. He currently owns a website with a weekly podcast (www.drgman.com) and is a reviewer for Default Prime!
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