Indie Workshop #3: Accelerated Delivery

Welcome to the third installment of Indie Workshopwhere I take a look at some of the games of aspiring Indie developers and give them a honest review while also attempting to give them a little exposure.

I truly encourage you all to get involved with the Indie games featured here and check out the developers – they work long and hard to bring you what potentially may be the next generation of video games, so its worth your time supporting them!

This game review is an exclusive, and has never been reviewed before. I hope you enjoy!

Top Secret Packages – An Accelerated Delivery Review

main-menu

When I was approached about the possibility of reviewing a game about boxes and their movement from one area to another, I couldn’t help but wonder if the entire concept was perhaps a little simple – how on earth was I going to create a fully fledged Indie Workshop review based upon a game who’s solitary objective is “move X amount of boxes from point A to point B”? Any normal game would have proved me right and I’d be sitting here right now telling you a very different story to the one I’m about to tell – but I didn’t play the “moving box simulator”. I played Accelerated Delivery.

Accelerated Delivery is a 3D puzzle game developed by Indie game group Two Button Crew. Originally created by Jonathan Fischer under the moniker Core43, “Box Factory” (as it was then affectionately known) became a group project when Two Button Crew combined forces with Jon and programmer Alex Van Liew to forge the Two Button Crew that has put out Accelerated Delivery in its completed form today. Although their story is a long and sometimes complicated one, Accelerated Delivery’s base concept has always been the same – control machinery in the environment to move boxes to an end-zone and complete the level. Lose too many boxes to the hazards below and you fail, starting the level over anew. Its a lovely little concept that is deceivingly difficult at its core.

tutorial

Accelerated Delivery offers a basic tutorial for beginners, and optional controller support for those more accustomed to gaming with a third-party controller.

The game starts with a very basic tutorial option and helps players to find their feet before the game begins proper. One thing Accelerated Delivery does very well is guide you through its opening levels without holding your hand – it teaches you the ropes, but there’s still room for failure. Its the best kind of learning curve that doesn’t rely on tutorial menus opening every 20 seconds and interrupting fluent and constant game-play.

As the controller of the machinery around you, you must activate specific sections throughout in order to guide the boxes to their eventual destination. This starts out relatively easy, with the use of only one or two buttons to guide a singular box to its inevitable end, but before you know it, you’re dealing with 7-8 buttons at a time, multiple boxes of different colours that need to be delivered to different locations, and even boxes that explode and must actually be disposed of in order to gain points. Its fast and frantic, but never verges too close to pandemonium that you feel like you’ve lost control. Additionally, each level features its own score tracking system which adds a level of re-playability and competitiveness to the affair – meaning you may find yourself using the game’s level select functionality to try and best your friend’s best runs and outdo each other more often than you’d care to admit.

"Good, but could I do better?" is the thinking that drives Accelerated Delivery's re-playability.

“Good, but could I do better?” is the thinking that drives Accelerated Delivery’s re-playability.

Rather than the aforementioned intrusive tutorial messages popping up throughout, Accelerated Delivery features a “guide” of sorts in the form of your voice-acted boss. He’s frequently dismissive of your abilities as a machinery operator, sarcastic and humorous in his approach. He narrates the story and provides guidance in the most convoluted manner possible, and whether you’ll appreciate the voice acting depends entirely upon your sense of humor. The game plays just as well without it as it does with it, and the developers have provided an option via the pause menu to remove the voice acting if for some reason you decide it isn’t really your thing.

On that note, the audio and visuals in Accelerated Delivery are something to marvel at. The soundtrack suits the game down to the ground and really helps to add to the overall feeling that if you lose a box, its going to have consequences somewhere down the line. The visuals meanwhile, are incredibly aesthetically pleasing and rarely do they detract from the objective at hand – they’re something beautiful to look at, but they’re not so distracting that you find your eyes hurting while you play, or an inability to focus on what you’re meant to be doing. Kudos to the art guys for their excellent work in Blender, because some of the hazards such as the lava look practically alive and dancing, and that really is some kind of accomplishment.

The environments really are captivating.

The environments really are captivating.

Game-play itself is fluid and the mechanics work exactly as you’d expect them to. In particular, I was very impressed by the box physics – drop them from a significant height and they’ll bounce, threatening to be lost in the void below before settling down and putting that particular mini-heart attack to rest. Get hit by a particular piece of machinery at a funny angle, or get caught between two walls because of your bad timing, and the box threatens to wind up being flung back a few steps – adding more precious seconds to your ever-increasing time. Very rarely have I ever felt such deep concern for an inanimate object as I did with Accelerated Delivery’s cardboard boxes – but because of the way their physics function, you’re constantly left with the feeling that these boxes really are delicate and subject to a swift reckoning if you’re not careful with them.

That having been said – I did run into one or two minor issues while playing Accelerated Delivery that, while nothing serious, did make me wonder “what if?”. Firstly – and probably more to do with my personal preferences – even though you have the ability to move the camera, I do somewhat wish that the option was there to zoom in even closer. On some of the bigger puzzles, it can occasionally be difficult to see where your boxes are and that’s when a quick “snap-to” zoom in would be really beneficial.

Secondly, and slightly more of a concern; during one of the later levels, I’d been playing the level for roughly 10 minutes and I was in the process of moving five or six boxes at once, when they all got clogged in a corridor and would no longer move along the conveyor belt. I had to push another two or three boxes behind them before I eventually managed to get them to budge, but by the time they did move, they were threatening to put an end to my fairly lengthy run, and I did end up losing one or two boxes in the avalanche that ensued. It probably won’t happen to 95% of people who play Accelerated Delivery to its conclusion, but for the 5% that do have to restart a 10-12 minute run, it will be a minor frustration that they will inevitably remember.

The blockage in question.

The blockage in question causing me some significant difficulty.

Despite this though, Accelerated Delivery is a nice game to play that requires some proper hard thinking and strategy to complete in the most efficient manner properly. My initial thought was to call it a “decent time-waster”, but I’m almost ashamed to now admit that because Accelerated Delivery is deserving of so much more. Rather than button-mashing or speed-running your way through it, Accelerated Delivery demands you take appropriate time to learn it’s ways and then use what you’ve been taught to achieve the best possible scores and figures. The game is fresh and keeps adding new challenges and puzzles all the time, and you can’t help but continue attempting it regardless of how frustrating the previous level might have been.

I haven’t used my brain so much in a video game since I played Portal 2, and that is a massive credit to Accelerated Delivery. Its a game that will have you scratching your head and playing long after you’ve completed it, trying to top your best scores – it takes puzzle-solving to an entirely different level,  fantastic in its approach, and beneath it all, just one question remains;

Do YOU have what it takes to handle with care, and, more importantly, will you be able to tear yourself away regardless?

Title of Indie Game: Accelerated Delivery.
Most appealing quality?: The sheer meltdown your brain will have when more and more buttons get added – and the feeling of achievement when you manage to nail it perfectly after 10 tries.
Most disappointing quality?:  Aside from the few minor issues I had, Accelerated Delivery does what it does with gusto. Its difficult to fault it.
How much did I play?: I played up to the 6th level for this review, and plan on returning to complete the entire thing before the week is out.
How much does it cost?: Accelerated Delivery is currently available for $5/£3.26 directly from the developer’s store and is worth every penny – support an extremely promising Indie developer and earn yourself a really nice puzzle game in the process. Alternatively, try the demo, featuring six levels, for free!
Where can I find it?: Information regarding the game can be found at the developer’s website.

Accelerated Delivery is a 3D puzzle game created by the minds at Two Button Crew, available now on Windows. You can follow Two Button Crew’s progress with Accelerated Delivery via Twitter.

All reviewing content, including images, is used with consent of the developer. A massive thank you to Two Button Crew for all their help throughout this review and a particular thank you to Alex Van Liew for his help.

Thanks for reading this post! If you enjoyed it, remember you can bookmark this blog or follow me direct from a WordPress account. Alternatively, you can follow me on Twitter here for updates.

If you have any comments, post them below or get in touch with me via Twitter.

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Editorial: Why GTAV Needs to be Something Special

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

When I think back through my long history of video games, very few stand out in my mind as being as commonly criticised as Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto franchise. From driving over prostitutes, to arming yourself with the widest variety of weapons and gunning down all number of pedestrians, to San Andreas’ infamous “hot coffee” minigame – if there’s one thing you can grant Grand Theft Auto, its pushing the boundaries of what most people would deem acceptable.

Growing up, I played most of the Grand Theft Auto games; I even had the original, top down and as horrible as it was. Vice City and San Andreas certainly left their mark on me, too, and I still to this day herald San Andreas as one of the best PlayStation 2 games I ever played. Sure, some of the scenes might’ve been a little dicey and some of my actions questionable, but underneath all of the over-the-top drama the game was layered with, there was a diamond in the rough that really was quite the feat at the time.

Move on almost 8 years since I first played San Andreas, and there are millions of people eagerly awaiting what is certain to be Rockstar’s coup de grâce for this generation of consoles; Grand Theft Auto V. Currently, GTAV is poised to be one of the biggest games not only of this Christmas season, but for the entire year. Many people will purchase the game simply because they’re a long-running fan of the series – I myself can’t even count on both hands how many people I know that have already pre-ordered the game ready for its slated release on September 17th, and I know even more people that will be picking it up when the time comes around.

However, I am here to ask the question, why does GTAV need to be something special – and more to the point – how can it be that something special that everybody wants and needs it to be. I’ll be looking back at some of Rockstar’s biggest titles so far, and also some of the stiff competition Rockstar is likely to face over the coming months when the title finally lands to define exactly what Rockstar needs to do to make GTAV a surefire winner. Lets begin, shall we?

Rockstar has a reputation to uphold.

When you consider a video game and the success its likely to garner, one of the things most people probably don’t consider is video game companies that have been doing this for quite some time and have their potential reputation on the line. Rockstar have been developing games since 1997, and among their titles have been some of the most successful franchises ever to exist.

Lets consider, then, some of the titles which have been released since the last GTA title – Grand Theft Auto IV – hit shelves, and their potential impact on Rockstar’s reputation:

  • First up, Red Dead Redemption followed Grand Theft Auto IV in 2010. Set in an open world Western environment, Red Dead Redemption borrowed a lot from the way Grand Theft Auto did things, and was surprisingly similar to the game despite having a much different feel to that of GTA. Players took on the role of John Marston, an outlaw who is taken from his family and is forced to search out the remaining members of his old outlaw gang in order to achieve amnesty. The plot was overall a lot more serious than any of GTA’s previous titles, and did extremely well off the back of it, generally garnering 8-9 out of 10 reviews across the board and selling in excess of 10 million copies worldwide. To this day Red Dead Redemption is still stuck firmly in the minds of many people as the best western action-adventure of the 21st century.
  • Realising that many players were more than happy to play as someone rather than the criminal for a change, and following in the successful footsteps of Red Dead Redemption came 2011’s L.A. Noire. Set in the seedy 1947 Los Angeles, L.A. Noire takes GTA and flips it on its head, putting players in the shoes of one Officer Cole Phelps as you progress through the ranks of the law enforcement, generally solving more and more severe crimes. The game introduced several new mechanics to the Rockstar universe that many players enjoyed, such as the interrogation “mini-game” and the use of extensive facial motion capture. Rockstar painted the role of a police officer in an entirely new light, and in doing so captured the hearts of many an avid gamer, myself included. The series went on to be extremely successful as a first-time hit, selling well over 5 million copies worldwide.

The interrogation mechanic was loved by many. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

  • Finally, and most recently, we have Max Payne 3. Released last year, Max Payne is a long running franchise for Rockstar, but was developed by Remedy Entertainment until MP3, upon which developing duties were handed over to Take-Two Interactive instead. Many feared this would impact severely upon the quality of the game, but the game still achieved impressive ratings across the board and sold over 4 million copies since its release. The game also reintroduced the bullet-time mechanic which was incredibly popular with many fans, as well as a “last stand” mechanic which allows players a chance at second life after they have been downed.

As you can see, Rockstar have carved a considerable mark on the gaming market over the past few years, and while some would argue that this would only benefit the release of GTAV, I would say that in some ways, it may very well hamper it.

Consider, if you will, the level of expectation that is currently sitting on GTAV – Rockstar have, in the past 5 years, released several games which have all hit 90+ ratings and sold in their millions. These games have introduced some incredibly well known mechanics such as L.A. Noire’s facial recognition and interrogation, and Max Payne’s bullet time and last stand. This puts a huge weight on the shoulders of Rockstar and GTAV to pull something similarly new out of the bag to continue to impress – use too much of the same old GTA formula and its going to look like a whole lot of waiting by the fans for a whole lot of “same old, same old” by Rockstar.

I’m not suggesting Rockstar implement facial recognition, interrogations and bullet time into GTAV by the way – I’m just saying they’ve got a lot to live up to when it goes shoulder-to-shoulder with its peers.

Grand Theft Auto needs to be careful it doesn’t become Saints Row: The Third 2.0.

Furthermore, we know that Grand Theft Auto was always a game renowned for being a little over the top and ridiculous in its ways. Since its last release, Volition’s Saints Row has seemingly stolen its crown, and is currently floating down crazy bubblegum river inside a fruit loop – its that far off the chain. While I’ve always been able to appreciate a slant towards humor in video games, I really think that GTAV has to be careful and try to be a more mature game now more than ever. If it verges on being too ridiculous, its only going to look stupid alongside games like Saints Row: The Third which have already done it much better (worse?). As great as flying a helicopter into someone’s grandmother in GTA might be, maybe its time for it to be the potentially more mature game that it needs to be and rise above the silliness.

Finally, competition.

GTAV will certainly have some competition this year. (Source: Thepipe 101 via Creative Commons)

Finally – GTAV has some extremely stiff competition from other long-running franchises. Let us not forget that since the previous GTA game last released, almost every other franchise that’s got a game releasing this year (Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and Battlefield to name a few) have been continuing on and building a fanbase, while GTA has led relatively dormant. This means that GTAV may well have some catching up to do when it releases in September. GTAV will be, however, the first to release out of all the major titles, but whether this gives it the upper hand when it comes to sales has yet to be seen.

So can GTAV pull it off? Am I just being a massive cynic?

Probably, yes. Grand Theft Auto has never failed to carry its own weight when it comes to game sales, and I don’t see it being a problem for #5 either. The one thing that shows serious sign of promise to me currently is the fact that GTAV is introducing new facilities to ensure that there is some level of variety in its mechanics – for example, being able to switch between characters on the fly will certainly be a first for the Grand Theft Auto universe, and its sure to bring some interesting things to the table.

Regardless of what I’ve stated above, I feel that Grand Theft Auto is such a behemoth at this stage, the only way it could really crash and burn would be to trip itself up – IE, with something drastically wrong. I have faith, however, that Rockstar won’t let its fans down.

Whether or not Grand Theft Auto V will be something special remains to be seen, but its starting to show its potential. As long as it stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its peers and does not get hidden behind them, I have no doubt that Grand Theft Auto V will be the game we all want – and need – it to be.

Thanks for reading this post! If you enjoyed it, remember you can bookmark this blog or follow me direct from a WordPress account. Alternatively, you can follow me on Twitter here for updates.

If you have any comments, post them below or get in touch with me via Twitter.

Indie Workshop #2: Lenna’s Inception Review

Welcome to the second installment of Indie Workshopwhere I take a look at some of the games of aspiring Indie developers and give them a honest review while also attempting to give them a little exposure.

I truly encourage you all to get involved with the Indie games featured here and check out the developers – they work long and hard to bring you what potentially may be the next generation of video games, so its worth your time supporting them!

This game review is an exclusive, and has never been reviewed before. I hope you enjoy!

An Adventure to Call Your Own – A Lenna’s Inception Review

intro-lenna

While playing Lenna’s Inception in preparation for this review, I stated to a friend of mine that, had I been playing this game without the prior knowledge of the developer being an Indie, I would’ve never thought anything different – it plays like a major developer’s creation despite still being relatively early in it’s development. I think it says a vast amount about Lenna’s Inception and its developer, Tom Coxon, that a game can come across so professionally done when it is the Indie development of just one person.

Lenna’s Inception is an Indie RPG adventure by aforementioned developer Tom Coxon. It is not Coxon’s first foray into the world of development, but is slated as his first “commercial Indie release” (Coxon previously released an app called  xkcdViewer on Google Play, which has now hit over 200,000 total installs). The game itself begins as you, the player, takes on the role of Lenna as she searches for a number of various artifacts to save the world from its impending doom. The Prince has been captured, and the Chosen One has been overthrown, leaving average joe Lenna to collect the artifacts necessary to send the evil back to where it once came from.

If this sounds somewhat familiar, that’s because it follows a very similar plot and design curve to another very famous game of the same style – The Legend of Zelda. When I first begun playing Lenna’s Inception, in fact, I could not help but notice the similarities between it and Link’s infamous journey through the land of Hyrule. There’s a lot of influence here and its apparent, but I want to make a clear definition between Lenna’s Inception and the adventures of our little hero in green; firstly, and one of the main things that also makes Lenna’s Inception such a blast to play, is its procedural generation – every play-through of Lenna’s Inception is randomised, and you begin in a different area each time you play, meaning you never know what’s going to be around the corner the next time you load it up.

Adding to this intense randomisation is the ability to add perma-death to your play-through. When you die normally in Lenna’s Inception, the game will offer to restart you at the beginning of the dungeon, albeit with your map still filled out as it would be had you never died. With perma-death on however, every play-through is a one-shot deal; die and you start the entire thing again. Its a nice little feature that adds some replay-ability, as you never know where you’re going to end up or what challenges you’ll face that may cut your run drastically short.

lenna-skeleton

The game has this lovely pixel-y design that brings back an instant rush of nostalgia.

There is a slight drawback to the randomised design of Lenna’s Inception, and that is the variation in its difficulty. Its nothing that really takes away from the game too drastically, and once you get your feet wet everything becomes evident, but my first play-through saw my life rather short-lived as a group of gelatinous fiends cut me down rather swiftly. On my second play-through, things went much smoother and I managed to get to grips with how things worked before I encountered any real challenge. Its not a major defect, but its something worth considering as some gamers may be thrown off by a slight variation in the difficulty level. Call me picky, but I just wish there was some sort of “non-randomised” area at the beginning to serve as a tutorial and allow users to find their feet before they were thrown into Lenna’s Inception proper.

That having been said, Lenna’s Inception does feature both an extensive document (think of it as an instruction manual, if you will) as well as tutorial pages throughout the game that help newer users get used to how the game is played. Lenna even carries a manual in her inventory that can be referred back to at any time for almost all of the game’s items and actions should you need them. Its a small detail but its very helpful if you forget how a certain function is supposed to work and its that little extra attention to what a player might need that stand out in an Indie title.

instructionscreen-lenna

The tutorials are sufficient to help you around Lenna’s world.

One thing I have to admire about Lenna’s Inception is its variation. Throughout the game you will encounter puzzles or certain areas which require you to use specific items which you have gathered to solve. It allows the player to step away from the adventure/combat side of things temporarily and use their brains in order to proceed. Not only that, but the quirkiness of the game is quite something. Sure, you have your typical, “to-be-expected” items that you find in almost every game of this type such as a bow or bombs, but how often does the jump function come in the form of a spring? Found a fire spell in order to cast fireballs? Too typical. In Lenna’s Inception, you’re going to be using Prometheus’ lighter instead. Did I mention one of the bosses – affectionately named Cuddles – is also a giant kitten? Oh yeah. Around every corner is something weird and wonderful, and finding them is half the fun.

Oh yes. There will be chickens.

Oh yes. There will be chickens.

The soundtrack is nice and suits the style of the game well, too. Its pretty simplistic right now, mainly consisting of a singular track that plays throughout your dungeon treks, with a separate tune for the boss fights. Tom has informed me that there are plans to further improve the soundtrack, but for now it does the job just fine (and I can’t stop humming the main theme to myself). There are options to turn off music (F5) or sounds (F6) if one so wishes, too. Again, attention to detail pays dividends.

I feel at this stage I should state two things – one; this game was created by just one person, similarly to my previously reviewed 2x0ng. This is one heck of a game that is bug-free and entirely playable from start to finish, and its all the work of just one guy. Second – the game is still being worked upon and will feature even more content when its finished. RPG elements and a greater expansion on the story, along with an over-world and stores for Lenna to make use of the coins you collect throughout the game are just some of the plans Coxon has for the game, and its looking to be pretty damn incredible already. Despite the fact its not finished, I still had a blast playing it and that’s a testament to Coxon – making a game playable and enjoyable to the last minute when its not even complete is one hell of a task, but he pulls it off with aplomb.

They say variety is the spice of life, and Lenna’s Inception has it by the bucket-load.

Lenna’s Inception wears its influences on its sleeve, but does it with such charm and grace that it feels more like a homage than a rip-off. It is a game in it’s own right though, and does what it does excellently. I have to give credit to a developer who can make me think of one of the biggest and most well-known franchises in the world with a game that isn’t even fully complete yet, and further still suck me in so much I couldn’t stop until I’d watched the credits roll.

Sure, Lenna’s Inception isn’t finished just yet, and there are particular areas (such as the soundtrack and story) which could use some polish – but that is something which comes with time, not due to any lack of care by the developer. In a year or two’s time I plan to play Lenna’s Inception again, because I know I’ll probably love it then twice as much as I love it already, and that’s saying something.

Lenna’s Inception has the potential to be something much greater than the sum of its current parts – and I’m excited for it. Its not very often I play an Indie game so early in development as this and have more fun than I’ve had with some “major releases” I’ve played recently, but Lenna’s Inception got me. Somewhere between the kitten battle and the war of the chickens, it got me.

And I love it. I absolutely love it.

Title of Indie Game: Lenna’s Inception.
Most appealing quality?: Right now, the sheer humor the game possesses. The potential is vast too, I can’t wait to see where this is going.
Most disappointing quality?: I would’ve liked a little more story, but that’s something that comes with time and, currently, doesn’t detract too much from the overall game as it is right now.
How much did I play?: I played two playthroughs, one was very short-lived – I finished the entire game and saw the credits roll on my second.
How much does it cost?: Lenna’s Inception is currently completely free.
Where can I find it?: Lenna’s Inception can be downloaded directly from Coxon’s website.

Lenna’s Inception is an RPG adventure game created by Tom Coxon, available now on Windows, Linux and Mac. You can follow Tom and his progress on Lenna’s Inception and all his other projects via his Twitter. You can also find Lenna’s Inception and all his other projects via his website.

All reviewing content, including images, is used with consent of the developer.

Thanks for reading this post! If you enjoyed it, remember you can bookmark this blog or follow me direct from a WordPress account. Alternatively, you can follow me on Twitter here for updates.

If you have any comments, post them below or get in touch with me via Twitter.

From the Ashes: A Little Inferno Review

A fireplace, a wooden block, a letter from a mysterious stranger, and the ability to light things on fire with the click of your mouse. This is not the introduction of a game that wants you to do things by the book. Indeed, in Tomorrow Corporation’s 2012 puzzler Little Inferno, very little is as it seems.

If you looked up the word “quirky” in a video game dictionary, I’m almost certain that Little Inferno would be sat there next to it, all bug-eyed and vague. This puzzler doesn’t have any dots that need to be connected, or boxes that need to be moved; in all truthfulness its probably not even a “puzzler” at all – at least not in the sense most people would expect a puzzle game to be. No, in Little Inferno, fire is quite literally everything.

The story weaves itself throughout the game-play almost seamlessly and is a very curious take on an apocalyptic setting, set in a world where snow and frost are constant and cold weather has consumed everything. The Tomorrow Corporation (yup, the developers of the game are also the company in the game) have made quite a name for themselves with their “Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace”, which the inhabitants of the world of Little Inferno use to keep themselves warm from the harsh weathers outside. Again, this story is not something that is forcibly told to you as soon as you sit down to play the game, but rather is delivered incredibly eloquently through a series of letters.

These letters are sent to you from one of three main, defining sources. The first is Miss Nancy, the CEO of Tomorrow Corporation, who regularly messages you in regards to your fireplace and is about as close as Little Inferno comes to “a tutorial” of any form. Secondly is the player’s neighbour, a curious girl who also owns a fireplace named “Sugar Plumps”. Sugar Plumps regularly messages the player in regards to their fireplaces, and her bubbly, childish personality really helps to add some innocence to the world of Little Inferno. Finally, we have the weatherman, who “floats above the chimney-stacks” in a balloon, providing a regular weather forecast of the town below.

Sugar Plumps certainly adds a unique edge to the world of Little Inferno.

The main game-play elements, then, revolve around several “catalogs” containing items which the player can buy with in-game coins. The player then proceeds to burn these items, which in turn return more coins and so the game-play continues. While items can be bought and burned individually, there are also “combos” for combining specific items and burning them at the same time for a special surprise, and some of the combinations are quite genius in their design. For example, an early combo entitled “Movie Night” requires you to burn Corn on the Cob and a Television together at the same time – burning the corn causes it to turn into popcorn, and as such, movie night is born! There are a total 99 of these combos scattered throughout the game’s seven available catalogs, and while finding all of them isn’t critical to finishing the game, it adds an extra kick for completionists like myself.

This is the beautiful mirage that Little Inferno paints for itself; I went in paying for this game with the thought that I was buying a puzzle game with a story about burning objects – I had no idea what really awaited me. The first catalog leads you through a selection of objects that are cheap and easy to burn through, and before you know it you’re burning things in rapid succession, and slowly unlocking new catalogs…

Oh… What’s this? A cat you can set on fire… And people dolls that act just like normal people…

Then this happens:

Indeed, as the game drags on longer and longer, certain mysterious things begin to pop out at you. Some of the things you can purchase to burn just jump out as slightly odd – and without ruining too much, there are one or two plot twists that certainly turn the story right on its head. Little Inferno takes what should be a puzzle game with an interesting mechanic, and mixes it with mystery and a slight horror/thriller theme at times to really create a game that sits apart from its peers in the puzzle word. The art style is beautiful also, and really lends itself to the overall theme of the game, while the audio is subtle and delicate, only present when its ever really needed.

If it feels like I’m leading up to a big “but” though, I’m afraid I am. Do not get me wrong, the story, art-style and just general overall feel of Little Inferno made me love it – for a few hours. Unfortunately, just like watching a real fire slowly burn everything to a cinders, the allure and mystique can only grasp you for so long, and before long the monotony of the grind begins to set in. Its something that can plague the best of puzzle games – too much of the same mechanic and things just begin to drag.

What starts out as a journey to try and combine as many items as possible while occasionally receiving a letter from a friend soon becomes a monotonous task of “buy X and Y and Z and just hope something comes from it when you burn them”, and if you’re like me, doing that until you reach all 99 combos kinda takes the biscuit. Unfortunately, the mechanic doesn’t do a lot to draw the length of the game out, either. I sat down and played Little Inferno for two sittings, and finished the entire game (with all 99 combos) in five hours. A neat little twist at the end helps to keep things interesting for the latter half, but really, it does feel like a bit of a one-hit wonder.

Cramming the fireplace with as much as you can and then lighting it all to try and grab combos becomes more common than it should have to be towards the end.

What we’re left with, then, is a puzzler with a gimmick; a very clever gimmick that provides some good entertainment, mind you, but a gimmick none-the-less. The story holds strong for the entirety of the game, although I do feel at times there were pretty large gaps to pad the game out to be a little bit longer. Overall though, Little Inferno provides just enough for it to be a worthwhile purchase to those puzzle game fans out there looking for something a bit different to the ‘norm’.

Tomorrow Corporation warns you at the start of the game to never play with fire; but just this once, I think we can let it slide.

Should I play this title?: Possibly. If you’re a fan of puzzle games, I’d recommend giving LI a try, but if you find you get bored easy with monotonous tasks, this one might not be for you.
Most appealing quality?: The story is something a little bit different, and very quirky. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it.
My personal rating: 7/10. A nice little game, worthy of playing if you can get over the occasional monotonous grind of simply burning everything. Let down by its short length and somewhat high selling price.
Price at time of writing: £6.99 [Steam]. Relatively expensive for what the game offers; try to pick it up in a Steam sale or somewhere else for a little cheaper.

Little Inferno is a puzzle game available now on PC, Mac, Linux, Wii U and iOS.

As always, thanks a lot for reading guys – your likes, shares and comments are always appreciated. See you soon!

– FA.

[Source: IGN – Little Inferno First Cutscene/Trailer]