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Nintendo Wii U Review: Little Inferno

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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 handful of virtual titles that can currently be found on the new system and it 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 has 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.  This can be even more useful for parents who don’t want to encourage setting random objects on fire in front of their children, but want to do so themselves.

Little Inferno uses a deceptively simplistic form of gameplay.  For burning things, players earn coins and the coins can then be used to purchase more 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 earns 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.  

 

Little Inferno is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Drug Reference, Crude Humor. This game can also be found on PC.


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About Lance Roth

Lance Roth has over 10 years experience in the video game industry. He has worked in a number of capacities within the industry and currently provides development and strategy consulting. He participated in all of the major console launches since the Dreamcast. This videogame resume goes all of the way back to when they were written in DOS. You can contact Lance at RPGameX.com or rpgamex@gmail.com.