Article first published as Nintendo Wii U Review: Little Inferno on Blogcritics.
There isn’t a whole lot available in the download shop on the Wii U, but a good amount of what’s there is worth a look. “Little Inferno” is one of the handfull of virtual titles that can currently be found on the new system and has the potential to give the platform the same relevancy that “Braid” offered the Xbox 360’s downloadable catalog. If the stylings of the game look familiar, that’s probably because the effort is the product of “World of Goo” creator, Kyle Gabler’s new indie game studio, Tomorrow Corporation. A word of caution, unless you want to be responsible for the latest California wildfire, “Little Inferno” is not a game for young kids.
Kyle Gabler has said previously that “Little Inferno” started as intentional shovel-ware with the idea that someone would make a game that’s hardly a game at all and why shouldn’t it be them. What’s evolved from his collaboration with “Henry Hatsworth” creator, Kyle Gray and programmer Allan Blomquist is a notable little sandbox game. Scored by Gabler, the deceptively simple gameplay foreshadows a larger setting than the little fireplace in front of you. The communication you receive throughout the game could be missed in the exuberance of watching things burn, but with limited gameplay, deciphering the world outside is its own treasure. Those that look beyond satisfying the inner pyromaniac will find dystopian themes similar to those in the earlier “World of Goo.”
“Little Inferno” at its core is a game about burning all of your stuff in the relatively safe confines of a brick fireplace. There, players can set various objects, such as toys, dolls, and even stray spiders, on fire by pointing at the screen for a short amount of time. The game can be played with either a Wiimote or the new GamePad. The benefit of playing on the GamePad is that the game can be played entirely on that second screen, freeing up the television for other use. That can be even more useful for parents that don’t want to encourage setting random objects on fire.
“Little Inferno” uses a deceptively simplistic form of gameplay. For burning things, players earn coins and the coins can then be used to purchase stuff to burn. While seeing what things do when set on fire is fun itself, there is also a pull down list of burning combinations that at least must be partially completed to advance the narrative. Executing the combinations will also earn players additional catalogs to order items from and some bonuses. Most of the objects have unique properties and a good amount of them will interact with others resulting in some interesting scenes.
Like many indie games, “Little Inferno” doesn’t take players on a grand adventure; rather, this game offers a little slice of a much larger picture. It is a dark picture that you’ll only discover by actually reading the letters from Miss Nancy, Sugar Lumps, and The Weather Man. For that reason, many people will either dislike intensely or just won’t get this game inspired by the Christmas Yule Log. “Little Inferno” is most likely to be regarded as a guilty pleasure for partially reformed pyromaniacs, like myself. The revelations of the bleak world in which the game takes place are the only lasting reward for completing it, though the game will have you secretly laughing at a number of the incinerations.
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