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‘Little Inferno’ for iPad game review

Little Inferno made its public debut last year as one of the launch titles for the Nintendo Wii U. Made by the designers of the popular game World of Goo and Henry Hatsworth, the game was lauded for its unique gameplay and won many awards. After that it was released on Steam and has now made an appearance on the mobile platform with the iPad version.

There is a pyromaniac in every one of us and that’s whom the game is made for. You simply set fire to things in this game, and then do it in various combos to create bigger fires and earn more points. All of this is wrapped in a mysterious story that unfolds as the game progresses. Sounds interesting? Let’s find out more.

Title
Little Inferno
Developer
Experimental Gameplay Group
Platform
iOS (iPad only)
Release Date
January 31, 2013
Content Reating
12+
Size
101MB
Price
$4.99

Premise

It’s been snowing like it has never snowed before and it seems that there isn’t going to be any end to it. So how do you stay warm in such hostile conditions? Luckily, the good people at Tomorrow Corporation have just the thing for you. Called the Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace, this little contraption will let you burn all your toys while you stay nice and toasty.

Gameplay

The gameplay in Little Inferno is quite simple. Almost throughout the game you are placed in front of a fireplace and have a catalog of toys with you. You purchase toys from the catalog, which are then delivered to you, and then you burn them in the fireplace. To burn something, you just have to tap and hold on the screen.

This goes on for some time until the game introduces the concept of combos, which then becomes the main gameplay element of Little Inferno. You basically have 99 combos in the entire game, each having a name. You have to use the name as a clue and then judging by the name and description of the toys in the catalog, you have to purchase them and then burn them together. Most combos require burning two toys together, with some requiring three.

You purchase toys using coins. You get more as you burn more toys. Getting combos also gets you coupons, which can be used to get the toys delivered to you instantly (they have a short delivery period of a few seconds or a few minutes otherwise). The game has seven catalogs in total, with twenty toys each. When you purchase them all the second catalog gets unlocked.

While all this business of purchasing and burning toys sounds a bit boring and repetitive, it’s anything but those things. Each of these toys has a personality and you can see them react as you drag them around. But things get even better when you set them on fire and it’s really fun to see the way each of them go up in flames, with very different but appropriate reactions to their design. So while a teddy bear will just silently burn, an alarm clock will go off, the corn on the cob will sprout pop corn and the fake credit card will shoot fake money. One neat toy is a photo frame that lets you choose an image from your iPad’s photo gallery.

The game developers’ sense of humor is on full display here, which can be seen through the ridiculous variety of toys they have on offer (you can buy things like a chainsaw, a nuke, a school bus full of screaming kids and a spider egg that shoots spiders when it burns) and the hilarious description they have for each of these items. Granted, sometimes the humor gets a bit too dark (which tends to happen when you burn things that seem like they are alive) but that’s exactly what the 12+ rating is for. Safe to say it’s a game best enjoyed by adults.

The game starts off with a very vague description of what’s going on and as you play you are filled in on things through letters sent by a girl, who is seemingly in the same situation as you. You also regularly get letters from the owner of Tomorrow Corporation and weather man who is in a hot air balloon somewhere up in the sky. Once you’re done reading the letters you can burn them for a few extra coins. Occasionally, the girl will ask you to send her things and sometimes you get things in return as well. Anything you get can be burned but it’s a good idea to hold on to certain items for later.

Completing all the combos and finishing the main story takes about five hours, which does not seem a lot but it’s unlikely that you will finish it in one sitting, unless you’re determined. Still, even if you play with plenty of breaks in between, the way I did, you can still finish the game in one day. Although this might not seem a lot, I feel the length of the game was appropriate. Any longer and the gameplay would have started getting boring, even with all those interesting toys. So it’s a good thing the developers stopped when they should instead of dragging it around and making it longer just for the sake of it.

Graphics and Sound

Little Inferno’s visual style is almost identical to World of Goo, to the point where you don’t need to know the same people made this game as well as you’d guess anyway. This is not at all a bad thing, however, as World of Goo remains one of the best looking 2D game around. The creativity of the animators really shines in the design of all the different toys in the games. And since the game relies so heavily on fire, you expect it to look great, which it does. Even the physics of it are done very well, as you will notice with some toys that have a strong gravitational field or tend to suck the air around them. Explosions, in particular, are very well animated, with some of the bigger ones shaking the entire fireplace with a nice slow motion effect.

The visuals are ably supported with the excellent sound. The music is amusingly chirpy, which forms an interesting contrast with the fact that you are basically setting things on fire, some of which tend to scream quite a bit when they burn. The sound effects are especially great, something you notice when things start burning.

Verdict

It’s hard to put into words just how amazing this game is, which is why I would strongly recommend anyone with an iPad to give it a try. The developers get a lot of things right: the amazing design of the toys, the wonderful ways in which they all go up in flames, the wonderful visuals and the amazing sound effects. Add to this a mysterious story with a nice ending and you’re looking at several hours of solid entertainment. If you’re looking for a change of pace from the usual stuff, this quirky little game is just what the doctor ordered.

Rating: 9/10

Pros: Excellent visuals and sound, simple and entertaining gameplay, interesting story
Cons: None in particular

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