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Little Inferno review

The GamePad, the GamePad, the GamePad's on fire...

Some games tear up the rulebook. The first thing you do in Little Inferno is burn one. A stylus swish flicks your fireplace's user manual into the hearth and a second prod applies the flame. Hold it nearby and the edges singe and smoke. Stick the spark right in the heart and the pages go up in a whoomf.

That's all the instruction you need: burn. Burn paper, pirates, mushrooms, radios and miniature solar systems. Burn corn to make popcorn. Burn a camera, then burn the picture it takes of you burning the camera. That's some meta-burning for you, right there.

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The game, in as much as you can call it that, is to torch seven catalogues of increasingly bizarre goods. Coins emerge from the ashes, funding future purchases of inane domestic wares, recalled children toys (the Poo Poo Kitty is a particularly horrible delight) and other oddness we don't want to spoil. Some trinkets burn with alarming realism, others adhere to cartoon logic. So while photos bubble and warp, opera singers warble a tragic swansong as the flames engulf their heads. Discovering what burns is what way is 95 per cent of the game.

The remaining five per cent is eking out combos hinted at by oblique titles such as 'Online Piracy', 'LOL Kitty' and 'Liquid Diet'. Some are simple wordplay - burn a clock and flowers to get 'Springtime', for example - others ask you to manipulate more obscure burning properties. You might grill rainbow bugs to colour the flame, or use pixels to stoke an 8-bit blaze. But while the game is at its best using combos for wackier interactions, too few do. The majority involve torching items of a similar kind, and with no noticeable comic/physics payoff.

Down In Flames

Having whipped us into a frenzy of wanton experimentation, Tomorrow Corporation douses the flames of creativity with needless item delivery times. Express tokens (earned through combos) move things along in the early stretches of the game, but our tokens were thin on the ground by the time we hit four-minute waits in the final catalogue. That's 240 seconds of your life staring at an empty fireplace. Factor in the fact that you'll waste loads of items trying to nail the last few combos and the final portion of the game becomes a real slog.

Is it all a swipe at a gross consumerist society's hunger for instant gratification? Regular letters from gaunt children and a creepy weatherman certainly suggest there's something bubbling beneath Little Inferno's surface. These bizarre memos talk of endless snow and fireplace secrets. Paired with nice Danny Elfman-like music these notes set an intriguingly mysterious tone - until we chuck them on the flames, that is.

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It's a cool breadcrumb trail that lends Little Inferno some much-needed narrative structure: a distant promise that there's more to it than screaming dolls and flaming moustaches. Does it amount to anything? Team ONM are split over the 'quirky' conclusion. Hey, at least you don't have to play for long to reach it - you'll hit the required 45 combos and unlock all the catalogues in a leisurely three hours.

And three hours of silliness for £12.99 is too rich our blood. Little Inferno is exactly the kind of indie oddity we want in eShop, but that price is for people with money to burn. Oh, the irony.

Little Inferno is one of the best Wii U eShop games

Comments

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  1. 08boatfg Thursday 3rd Jan 2013 at 17:49

    I think, unless in an extreme situation (e.g. Angry Birds 3DS), the price of a game should not affect a review. Little Inferno is so addictive and interesting and deserves a higher score than 66% - 75% at a minimum, but it really should be 80% in my opinion.

  2. Nin_Jake Friday 4th Jan 2013 at 11:31

    I wasn't expecting it to be over quite so quickly -- I'm glad I got it in the sale though...

  3. Fox_McCloud Friday 4th Jan 2013 at 13:45

    I think, unless in an extreme situation (e.g. Angry Birds 3DS), the price of a game should not affect a review. Little Inferno is so addictive and interesting and deserves a higher score than 66% - 75% at a minimum, but it really should be 80% in my opinion.

    People like you are why review scores have spiralled out of control.

    66% is fine.

  4. bowsersblog Saturday 5th Jan 2013 at 11:34

    Little Inferno was great fun and it kept me interested until the end. I'm hoping the rumor is true about the developers adding the functionality of user created content into the game. That would make the game even more enjoyable.

  5. 08boatfg Sunday 6th Jan 2013 at 13:26

    I think, unless in an extreme situation (e.g. Angry Birds 3DS), the price of a game should not affect a review. Little Inferno is so addictive and interesting and deserves a higher score than 66% - 75% at a minimum, but it really should be 80% in my opinion.

    People like you are why review scores have spiralled out of control.

    66% is fine.

    I was just saying what I thought. No need to get aggressive :roll:
    Maybe 80% is a little high though, so I think 75% is alright.

    Little Inferno was great fun and it kept me interested until the end. I'm hoping the rumor is true about the developers adding the functionality of user created content into the game. That would make the game even more enjoyable.

    Yeah that would be great! :D

  6. Dertdood Sunday 13th Jan 2013 at 16:44

    I think you really misunderstood the game in this review

    It's not supposed to be fun, it's a critique of skinner box games mixed with a bit of environmental message.

  7. TheSlenderman Sunday 13th Jan 2013 at 18:28

    What? You pay Ł13 just to see how things will burn in a fire? Why not just do it for real?

  8. MatthewONM Monday 14th Jan 2013 at 16:30

    I think you really misunderstood the game in this review

    It's not supposed to be fun, it's a critique of skinner box games mixed with a bit of environmental message.


    Ha! That is absolute balderdash. Mimicking a horribly manipulative style of game still results in a horribly manipulative style of game, no matter how satirical your intentions. The idea of setting out to make something terrible - and being celebrated for it - is ludicrous in the extreme. The emperor has no clothes, and it's not my fault everyone else is too stupid to say it.

  9. Dertdood Monday 14th Jan 2013 at 17:36

    I think you really misunderstood the game in this review

    It's not supposed to be fun, it's a critique of skinner box games mixed with a bit of environmental message.


    Ha! That is absolute balderdash. Mimicking a horribly manipulative style of game still results in a horribly manipulative style of game, no matter how satirical your intentions. The idea of setting out to make something terrible - and being celebrated for it - is ludicrous in the extreme. The emperor has no clothes, and it's not my fault everyone else is too stupid to say it.

    (Spoiler warning)
    you have to think of the game as more than just fun

    it's a deconstruction of gaming; presenting you with a repetitive game and then showing you at the end what you could have done with your time; you meet a woman who uses her time so well she is able to write a novel during the breaks and you walk past a bank where you could have invested all your money.

    A game that can be good without necessarily being fun is much more unique and thoughtful than one of the thousands (if not millions) of fun games out there. Evolving beyond fun is what makes games an art form and not entertainment; the industry is starting to evolve with games like = Little Inferno coming out that force you to question yourself and it's a real shame that reviewers don't seem to be evolving along with it. You can't judge a game that is purposely not fun by how fun it is; you're totally missing the point. I'd agree that the price is a little steep but at the end of the day 12.99 for one of the most unique and artistic games out there is a worth it when there's only really one other game that is even comparable to Little Inferno, and making the game any longer would just be unnecessary, the game needs to waste some of your time to work but just adding some more catalogues and combos would be hypocritical for a game about showing you what you can accomplish when you overcome your distractions

  10. X-Mysticala-X Monday 28th Jan 2013 at 00:28

    I am not necessarily saying that this is one of the best games ever made, but for me i believe that the score should be higher than 66% even just slightly, mainly due to the fact, that i found the game sort of like an experience, i was hooked, and completed the game in one play through, i had to later return to unlock all of the combinations, but this game made me laugh, panic, wonder and think all at the same time. It's definitely original, imaginative and interesting, which is more than most of these games which are released as a generic re-make of all of its pre-decessors.

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