Version Played: PC (also available on Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Switch, Wii U)
I remember working my way through World of Goo, when it became available as a downloadable game on the Wii (hey kids, remember the Wii?) in 2008. It was a game that was perfectly suited to the Wii’s controls, seeing you picking up and placing blobs in tactile, squishy-looking tower arrangements. It had a very Tim Burton-esque, dark yet cute feel to it which extended beyond the visuals to the soundtrack and even the slightly sinister content behind the seemingly innocent tasks. It was absolutely fantastic.
Little Inferno was a follow up to World of Goo by the same team, though became the first title released by their newly formed development partnership, Tomorrow Corporation. It shares a lot of the same feel as World of Goo, with some very similar character design and the same creepy/cute atmosphere.
It’s a very different game, however. It’s a puzzle game at heart, though one with an extremely simple premise; you find yourself in possession of a ‘Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace’ – and the only way of interacting with it is to burn any one – or combinations – of several items that you may possess. Once burned, items produce coins which can then be spent on purchasing more items to burn from mail order catalogues, which you can then use to create combos by burning specific items together (combos have intentionally cryptic names, but it’s possible to guess which items will cause you to complete most combos). Burn enough items and create enough combos and you’ll unlock more items with more catalogues. Adding to this, at points you’ll receive letters which do point towards something more than just the fireplace – but does the game ever progress beyond the Little Inferno and reach a climax? Well, it does end…but the joy is most definitely in the discovery and I’d hate to spoil the very clever, satisfying surprises beyond the flames.
It’s an odd, very basic premise that should, by all rights, be monotonous, repetitive and pointless. Yet there’s an undeniable charm to the visuals, the very Danny Elfman-esque music (again going for that Tim Burton aesthetic) and the satisfying sensation of burning items. It’s definitely a game that’ll unlock your inner pyromaniac. Even now, nearly eight years after it was originally released, it still feels utterly unique and retains its dark charm. Playing a game in which you’re a child trapped indoors in front of a fireplace has also, perhaps, never been more appropriate than during the lockdown we’re currently facing. Well worth seeking out and playing.
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