Little Inferno surprised me. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I am certain that it wasn’t this. You play as a young boy who is all alone in his house playing with his favorite toy, the Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace. The city where you live is anonymously Dickensian, but not tied to a real place or time. It’s just the city. The thing is, the city has been getting colder for a long time. It always snows and the only way to stay warm is to burn things in the Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace.
The gameplay is simple. You start with a little money. You buy some toys and treasured memorabilia, and then you burn it. When something burns, money comes out, and it is always a little more than you spent, so accumulating a vast fortune isn’t a challenge. The real goal is to burn combinations together that fit a theme. One example is to burn the stuffed cat and the blowfish. Obviously, that one is called catfish. When you burn enough combinations, you can unlock more catalogs and more combinations. As far as gameplay goes, that’s sort of it. There are no points, no timers, and no enemies. Heck, there aren’t really any defined goals. But, somehow, the game is incredible.
Yes, burning things and watching the ash blow away is satisfying, but Tomorrow Corporation (the developers of this delightful, little game) have managed to tuck a truly heartbreaking, little story into this pyromaniacal game. I will literally tell you nothing about the story. It is good, but you will have to take my word for it. I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember, so I should be desensitized to all emotion by now , and it still got its hooks into me good. It might not take you by surprise like me, and for that I apologize, but this is just a great example of story in video games being able to sneak in through unexpected ways.
I have one word (albeit an oddly capitalized one) to explain why Little Inferno is also a great pick for the part-timer: Plastics iPad. Little Inferno, which I played on PC, is a perfect fit for the iPad. The gameplay is simple, poke at the screen to choose stuff and drag your finger across to move stuff. The time commitment for a bit of gameplay is effectively zero. You never feel rushed at all. This is the perfect game to play while sitting on the couch and trying to tune out family movie night. If you want a game that you can forge a real emotional bond with as you ignore your children, this is the right one. You monster.
What I loved about this game, aside from the terrifying satire, simple pyromania, and story, is that it lets you play it on your own terms. Want to blaze through the entire thing in a few hours? Go for it. Want to pick it up for about two minutes while your bagel is toasting? Sure thing. Want to take it skydiving? Why? That sounds terrible, but you could get in a round or two. This is just a great little game that almost anyone can find the time for. And, you really should.