It’s been about 6 years now since I first found Little Inferno through Lewis and Simon of The Yogscast as part of Honeydew’s Honey Drive. I bought it while it was still on sale on Steam and at the time of writing it’s gone down in price to £6.99 and it’s worth every penny! This game is the literal definition of independent gaming as it was (as quoted on the Tomorrow Corporation site) “made by 3 guys, no office, no publishers, no funding”. Two of the three helped create World of Goo and Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure and the other developed his first NES emulator before he graduated high school – so Little Inferno has some pretty interesting backing and ideas thrown into its pot. Little Inferno is a casual, adventure game and has one pure and simple goal: Burn stuff.
After the epic entrance to the, frankly, beautiful intro screen game play revolves around burning things to get money to buy more things to burn in order to keep warm in the implied endless winter. There are 99 combos you have to make from the 7 catalogues you unlock and the aim is to figure out by their weirdly cryptic name what assortment of plushies, food items and planets you would need – ‘LOLKitty’ for example being a camera and a kitty plushie. I will say however if you ever get bored of that, buying 100 ‘Tomorrow Bucks’ worth of – quote, un-quote- Tetris pieces to fill up your fireplace/screen and click-and-holding to set the whole thing ablaze is easily the new deleting-all-the-exits-and-toilets-of-your-Sims-home.
It’s an incredibly short game and I, an admittedly very slow gamer, completed all 99 combos in just over 4 hours with a little help (cough GameFAQs cough). You pretty much spend most of the game trying to figure out all 99 combos and the rest of your time buying and burning things for fun, which I did a lot because good goody goodness is it fun!
As well as the super fun, smart and entertaining puzzle game-play, there is a shockingly creepy story line that goes with it, however subtle and spread out it may be. You get most of your information through letters from three character – the lovely Miss Nancy, who’s kind and warm letters bring hope to the lonely little person’s world and the Weather Man, with his reports from the sky in his lovely weather balloon and his hope filled, warming catchphrase ‘Reporting from the Weather Balloon, over the smokestacks, over the city – The Weather Man.’. As well as the lovely words from these two, you get letters from your ‘best friend’ and neighbour, Sugar Plumps! As well as sending you presents to burn, she asks you to send her things from the catalogues.
As it’s told, on the ‘outside world’ there has been an endless snow storm and it has been getting colder everyday for an untold number of years. Your Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace by Tomorrow Corporation seems to be the only source of heat in this world and the letters just egg you on to learn more about the cold, outside world you’ve heard so much about. In the most fantastically epic climax, I have seen in an indie game, you finally go outside of your house where you finally see the cold, dark, snow’d town and meet your mailman who you learn delivered everything you order throughout the game loyally with ‘quick, discreet service!’ delivering each and every package and letter right to your side so that you didn’t even have to look up from your roaring fire… He’s surprisingly upbeat for a man that has to be outside in the frosty dystopian town, ending each mention of the cold with an optimistic, ‘it can’t last forever!’
The actual end of the game leaves a lot of questions unanswered and the internet has come up with a lot of sane sounding answers to them. Some say the game is a metaphor for gaming and how we all get sucked in and can’t do anything else and how it will, eventually, lead the world to ruin unless we stop and go outside sometimes. Some say it’s a metaphor for how badly we’re treating the environment and how drastic it could get. I’ve even read an article about how it’s showing how the government doesn’t tell us anything and just give us distractions (the fireplace) so we don’t see the big things going on (i.e the frozen wasteland that the world has become).
I don’t know what the answer is, and I kind of hope the developers made it that way. An unanswerable game that could have so many answers that the players will interact and discuss their ideas. Either way, the game is fantastic. It’s beautifully made and has an adorable feel and look to it along with excellent game mechanics and fun interactive storytelling. Even now going back to Little Inferno in 2017, the cute homely animation and game-play so simple it doesn’t need a tutorial Little Inferno is worth its weight in Tomorrow Bucks and earns it place in my personal ‘Feel Good Games’ list.
Little Inferno is currently £6.99 and available on Steam!
First Published on: www.commonglitch.com