- Games, Toys, and Hobbies
Review: Little Inferno
Developer: Tomorrow Corporation - Publisher: Tomorrow Corporation - Platform: Wii U, PC - Release Date: November 18, 2012
Concept: Solve challenging riddles by setting everything you own on fire.
Graphics: The models and environment send echoes of Media Molecule's work and the presentation is charming overall.
Sound: Melodic and powerful, it's a score you won't soon forget.
Playability: Simply point, click, and drag. Gamepad users have no reason to look at the television at all as everything you need is available there.
Entertainment: A charismatic and addicting puzzler backed by a unexpectedly moving story.
Replay Value: Moderately High
Warming Your Heart As Well As Your Living Room
I'm not a pyromaniac by any means, but there has always been something alluring about tossing a bunch of random junk into a big fire. Little Inferno taps into that primal appeal by attaching addictive challenges to it, topped with a surprisingly emotional story.
Shortly after being introduced to your new Little Inferno fireplace, you're given a letter by an energetic and slightly deranged girl named Sugar Plum, your next-door neighbor who's enjoying her own Little Inferno. Throughout the course of the game, she sends more letters expressing desires ranging from companionship to freedom, with vague clues as to the happenings outside the walls of your fireplace. Messages from Little Inferno's manufacturer, the Tomorrow Corporation (including an hilarious promo video) and news reports strongly encourage you to use your fireplace to set everything you own ablaze. While seemingly mindless, you slowly learn how the Little Inferno's purpose and the state of the outside world connect, and it's a rather touching story that you'll want to see through to the end. I can't remember many puzzle games that have intrigued me more with it's narrative.
Reducing everything in sight to ashes is the main sell of Little Inferno, but the real meat of the game is completing a combo list containing riddles as to what items to burn together. For example, solving the "Bearskin Rug" riddle requires that you burn a teddy bear and a bear trap together. Some solutions are obvious but others take more out-of-the-box thinking and experimentation. Playing around with different combinations is very entertaining; I often tossed stuff in the fire just to see how it would burn, and discovering solutions provides a incredibly satisfying "Ah ah!" feeling.
Gamepad or Wiimote?
Little Inferno allows you to play the game with either the Gamepad or Wiimote. If you go the Gamepad route, don't even bother trying to look at your TV too. There's no cursor represented on the big screen making it hard to navigate without looking at the Gamepad, where the entire game is displayed anyway. You'll find yourself looking at the Gamepad 99% of the time, so you're better off playing the game there exclusively. I personally preferred the Gamepad, as clicking and dragging with the stylus feels more intuitive, but If you'd rather view your TV predominantly, stick with using the Wiimote. No pressure though, as you're free to switch between configurations each time you load the game.
Everything you destroy gives coins in return, which are then used to purchase more items to burn from several catalogs. Once all the items in a catalog have been bought, the next one becomes available, opening a new batch of objects. In turn, puzzles become more difficult, since you now have more items to mix and match. Don't be surprised to combine items from the final catalog with those from the first, and Little Inferno does a great job of limiting most solutions to the objects in catalogs already available, meaning the answer is almost always right in front of you. I became addicted to buying and unlocking catalogs and couldn't wait to get my hands on more stuff to throw into my inferno.
On the flip side, investing tons of money on stuff for a possible solution that ends up flopping can leave you penniless more often than not, and it's frustrating earning the coins back for another attempt. Thankfully, you're usually given back more coins than you spend, which speeds up the process a bit. When you're not busy checking off objectives, Sugar Plum will occasionally send letters requesting that you send her a specific item, which you'll want to oblige; letters than can also be burned, if you feel so inclined.
You'll also want to watch the way you burn things together, as sometimes the game won't acknowledge a correct answer if they aren't burned correctly, meaning at the same time. I once took two items for what I was sure was a solution and burned them, somewhat recklessly, to no avail. Convinced that I had been right, I very carefully burned the same items again and THAT time the game recognized it. For people who lack my stubborn attitude, that could mess you up big time, as you could spend the rest of the game wasting money buying every other item except the correct ones hoping for a solution that will never come. It's not a major issue, but something you'll want to keep in mind.
After the first hour or so, you've pretty much seen everything Little Inferno has to offer in terms of gameplay. Just buy, burn, buy, repeat. However, the enjoyable puzzle-solving, endearing narrative and quirky humor will keep your fireplace roaring long into the night. If you're a Wii U owner looking for something to play once Mario and the other major titles are done, head to the eShop and give Little Inferno a much-deserved look.
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