Many people can recall their younger days when they would start a fire and just start dropping things into it to watch them burn. There is a primal fascination that humans have with fire ever since it was discovered during prehistoric times, and that’s what Tomorrow Corporation’s newest offering is trying to tap into. Little Inferno is basically a game for the 12-year-old pyromaniac in all of us.
From the makers of the 2008 hit World of Goo comes another game wherein you can burn stuff. In Little Inferno, you basically buy things to throw into the fireplace, which is perhaps the pyromaniac experience of every suburban kid in the world. Chucking in certain combinations of items gives you bonuses, and scoring enough of them lets you unlock more items to throw into the fire. You have a total of 140 different objects to burn and 99 combinations to discover.
The combinations are of anything that may match up in some way, like Coffee and an Alarm Clock to get the Wake Up! combo. There are also less obvious combinations that make sense only when you really think about it, like the LOL Kitty combo wherein you burn both a Wandering Eye, which is a camera, and a Kitty Plushie.
You also get mail from someone called Sugar Plum, wherein she gets nosy and wants to know what you’ve been doing. She has an obsession with her fireplace as well, and she also gives you stuff like notes and weather news from her. Whatever it is for you’ll find out later on in the game. Soon enough, the story starts making more sense once you burn more things and unlock more items. As a plot device, Sugar Plum provides a somewhat surreal atmosphere. But then again, the objects and combinations you burn are also surreal in their own way.
The ending of the story is on the sentimental side, to say the least. Throughout the whole gameplay experience, Little Inferno provides fun and entertainment in a subdued but satisfying way. Discovering the combinations takes a bit of creativity, but it perhaps starts demanding a bit too much once you’ve gotten far in the storyline. As you start getting to the 99 mark in unlocked combos, you may get stomped and you’ll be wracking your brain in order to unlock the remaining combos so that you can get Sugar Plum’s next letter. For those who get too stomped, they may either stop playing the game or resort to an online guide.
The presentation is a bit on the creepy side, but that is most likely intended as it’s a game about obsessive burning of things, after all. But perhaps its greatest appeal is that tapping into the primal instinct of humans by letting players watch things burn. Uncovering things like the different combinations and perhaps social commentary behind the whole act of burning stuff, with a sort of anti-consumerism message as you burn wads of cash, makes this game pretty entertaining as you play.
It’s not a big game at all, but it does have its moments. Little Inferno is a good game for those who like minimalistic gameplay and just watching stuff burn. Perhaps it doesn’t have the impact that World of Goo may have, but it should last you a bit.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 7/10