I love indie games created by small teams doing the impossible, pushing limits and impressing even the most hateful critics. The gaming industry needs more people like that, with imaginative minds that know how to create works of art in playable form on a scale grander than any multi-billon dollar company could ever dream of monetizing on.
With that said, Little Inferno is quite possibly the worst indie “game” I have ever played. I put “game” in quotes because I’m hesitant to even call it that. I’ve seen free, ad-ridden iOS apps more enjoyable than Little Inferno. It’s not a game at all, it’s a tech demo shamefully marketed as a full-priced indie game.
Little Inferno (Wii U[Reviewed], PC, Mac, Linux)
Developer: Tomorrow Corporation
Publisher: Tomorrow Corporation
Release: November 18, 2012
MSRP: $15.00 [Buy Now]
The gameplay in Little Inferno is nonexistent. You pick up items, put it into your fireplace and then light them on fire. They burn up and you start the process over. Doesn’t that sound fun? Of course it doesn’t, because you’re not a 4-year-old impressed by lighting bugs on fire with a magnifying glass. And if you are, well, playing with bugs in the sandbox is more enticing that playing this tripe. I’m not saying a game has to be mature to be good. I do, after all, love the Skylanders franchise. However, I do expect a game to feel like a game. Heavy Rain even had gameplay segments and most reviewers considered that a several hour-long cutscene.
Throughout Little Inferno you unlock more toys and appliances to burn by simply purchasing the items before them. Once unlocked, you can burn them. That’s the point of the game. Buy things, burn them and buy them again. If that’s not fun enough for you, there’s a wait time before you can use each item. No, this isn’t an iOS game trying to lure you in with its cutesy appearance and hidden microtransactions; this is a full priced indie game that punishes you just for playing. The wait times aren’t minor cooldowns either; some of them are over a minute. I didn’t know this was a literal waiting game.
Little Inferno attempts to force a story down your throat in the form of annoying letters sent to you by neighbors. The world is cold, so you need to burn your toys. That’s about as deep as the story gets, despite constantly spamming you with mail.
I understand the desire to test out new technology, I really do. With dev kits available for only $5,000, there’s no reason why some of the smallest indie developer wouldn’t be able test the waters on the Wii U. Of course, there’s a difference between a tech demo and an actual video game. That’s something I fear Tomorrow Corporation has forgotten since their last indie gem, World of Goo. Little Inferno manages to maintain some of the appearance and personality of World of Goo, but it will never hold a candle to it.
Little Inferno is a waste of time and space; if released for free, I would honestly consider it a cute novelty app along the lines of a the Zippo Lighter app for iOS. It’s a novelty app for showing your friends that you are a sadistic bastard that likes to burn things without reason and an idiot who paid $15.00 for the worst “game” to hit the Wii U just hours into its official launch.