Little Inferno comes from the crazy minds over at Tomorrow Corporation, previously of Human Resource Machine and more famously, World of Goo. Now five years old, is there enough here for previous owners and newcomers alike?
Little Inferno has a very simple premise and there isn’t actually a great deal to say about the gameplay truth be told. This is a virtual fireplace called the Little Inferno that you put things into and burn them, that’s pretty much it, seriously. It is very unique in that it was so unlike anything that came before it and it has certainly been a very divisive game.
The backstory gets us up to speed quickly, telling of a future where the outdoors has been covered in snow for quite some time and the Little Inferno can be used to burn things in order to keep warm. Again it’s very simple and it’s not the most engaging stories in the world but what it does do is set up a foundation and give you a purpose for what you are doing.
At the beginning of the game, you receive a welcome letter that you subsequently have to burn. Upon burning it, you receive coins which you are then able to use to purchase more items from a catalogue, and of course you then have to burn them too. When you do purchase new items, a timer will appear showing you how long it will take to arrive to you, with some smaller items taking next to no time and bigger items taking a lot longer. Again, very simple stuff.
Now, that all sounds a bit dull and doesn’t actually sound like a proper game at all, but there are things the game does in order to make it a little less one dimensional which adds in a bit more of a strategic element. At the top-right of the screen there’s a small tab labelled with a star. This is the combo list and each combo listed is named in such a way as to give you a hint as to what items you must burn together. One of the easier examples is one called “Movie Night,” so if you combine some popcorn and a TV, you will trigger that combo which not only ticks it off the list to show you have completed it, but also bags you extra cash. There are some painfully obvious combos in here but some of them are not so obvious and require a bit more brain work in order to find the right combinations of items. You can of course just guess too and that sometimes works just as effectively, but where is the fun in that? There are 99 combos in total and while it doesn’t completely change how the game is played, it adds an extra layer on top.
Each of Tomorrow Corporations games has a certain charm to them and this one is no different. The game runs in full 1080p when docked and 720p when undocked but suffers from some slowdown while burning multiple items at once, which is a bit odd for, by all accounts, a moderately powerful console. It certainly never breaks the game, nor does it affect the quality of the game, but you would have thought that something like this would have been sorted out in time for release.
With previous releases being more of a pointer based experience and the Nintendo Switch not having any kind of sensor bar, how does this version compare in that aspect? Well, the answer is surprisingly well in fact. Because the Joy-Cons have similar (albeit superior) tech than what was found in a Wii Remote with MotionPlus, it is able to emulate the screen pointing aspect very effectively. When you first turn the game on, it prompts you to lay the Joy-Con on a flat surface so it can collaborate it, then you just press the Plus button to centre your cursor, kind of in a similar way to how Splatoon works in the way you centre the camera in that game.
With this being the Switch you can, of course, play the game in handheld form, which utilises the touch screen and is more intuitive than using the regular controls as everything is literally at your fingertips and this is the way I played the game. It all works as you would expect it to, tapping will create a small spark and holding your finger on the screen will create a full on flame that will burn everything you touch.
If you have any of the other version of Little Inferno, the only real reason to pick this up again is for the inclusion of a co-op mode. Each Joy-Con has full pointer control and because everybody with a Switch has two of these, that means you can give the second controller to a friend and happily burn things together. It is unquestionably a welcome addition and one that players who prefer a co-op experience, now perhaps have more of a reason to pick up Little Inferno.
It isn’t the longest game in the world, taking around two hours to complete. But it could be that is what stops Little Inferno becoming too repetitive or monotonous to the point that you wouldn’t even want to get to the end of it. Once all is said and done however there is little reason to come back and play again, it’s one of those games that once it’s done you will in all probability never return to.
Little Inferno is certainly an odd one, but one that is intriguing enough that newcomers should try out on whichever platform of choice. If you do have another version of the game then I would question whether it’s worth buying again. As with all Switch games, the added portability is a good enough reason for some as is the inclusion of a co-op mode. However, Little Inferno will not be everybody’s cup of tea and at some points, you will be really enjoying the experience and then all of a sudden think the opposite, it really is that kind of game. It’s a relatively enjoyable experience but I personally would try out the two other Switch games by the same developer first before becoming a pyromaniac in Little Inferno.