Little Inferno – Review

Title   Little Inferno
Developer  Tomorrow Corporation
Publisher  Tomorrow Corporation
Platform  Wii U, OS X, Windows, Linux, iOS (reviewed)
Genre  Puzzle
Release Date  November 18, 2012
Official Site

I’m very much a fan of iOS gaming. The low production costs mean that developers aren’t shackled to souless genres such as first person shooters, driving games, or fucking hack and slashers, and can actually experiment. The low cost also means that gamers like me can take punts on all sorts of titles, free of the buyers’ remorse that comes with wanking away £35 on the latest Tomb Raider.  The profileration of ‘freemium’ games – games that cost nothing but then ramp up the true price by putting you at a disadvantage if you don’t spend real money on in-app purchases – is threatening to spoil the party though, with EA doing their best to ruin mobile gaming for everyone, but with no publishers to corrupt their vision, you still get developers putting out some great, innovative titles which are there if you scroll down beyond the likes of Angry Birds and other shitty non-games that inexplicably clog up the top slots of the App Store charts.

One such game, which admittedly started life as a PC indie title, is Little Inferno, which is as much a statement on current app-based gaming as it is a great little title in its own right. The concept appears to be complete lunacy; viewed in a fixed, first-person view, all you do is purchase objects via a catalogue, wait for them to be delivered and then set fire to them in your inferno.  The first thing the game gives you are the ‘terms and conditions’ on a piece of paper. Tapping to select them, you expect to read them but instead all you can do is pick them up and put them in the inferno. Nice, Little Inferno. Very nice.

As you purchase your items from the first catalogue and burn them, the effect is pleasing and somewhat beguiling. Items burn realistically and somewhat unpredictably and there’s quite a lot of fun to be had seeing how each item responds to being set fire to, but progress comes from combining items. A list of ninety-nine possible combos is accessible by way of a pull-down menu, the title of each being the only clue. For example: the ‘Time Bomb’ combo involves setting fire to a bomb and an alarm clock at the same time.  Putting together combos then unlocks further catalogues, all loosely based around certain themes (such as gaming, being manly, and food) and as you progress through them they get more and more outlandish until, by the end (yes, it has an ending of sorts, but I’m not going to spoil it), the items are literally ridiculous.

Items are purchased using coins and delivery (which is never more than a couple of minutes for the most expensive items) and can be sped up with tokens. Now, at this point, most other iOS games will speed up this process with in-app purchases; Little Inferno makes a point of not doing that, however, always giving you slightly more coins for burning an item than that item cost in the first place, while tokens are earned for hitting new combos.  Likewise, the game offers no tips or cheats for figuring out said combos. Sure, you could just look at an FAQ if you’re the kind of soulless berk that used a walkthrough to get through Braid, but with resources not being much of an issue you could just try to figure out a combo by way of brute force and just burn ten items at a time. It’s not the most elegant solution but it is sure to produce fireworks. Sometimes, quite literally.

That said, the gameplay on offer is ultimately quite thin. This is more of a toy – and perhaps a statement – than it is any kind of epic title but it’s still immensely satisfying and, weeks later, is still my go-to iOS game when I’m grinding through whatever aged Xbox filth I’m currently whoring for achievements.  More than that though, Little Inferno is a beacon of hope that says that not all iOS developers are money-grabbing shit sacks and that some of them will put the gaming experience before profit. In Little Inferno’s case, it’s loveable charm means that it produced a healthy amount of both.

  • Effortlessly charming
  • An important statement on IAPs
  • Lovely burning effects
  • Tons of smart humour
  • Cheap
  • A tad repetitive
  • Advanced items can produce a little slowdown

Little Inferno is smart, attractive and funny. If it was a lady it would be Joan of Arc, but funny. And not French. It'd be just as thin, but wouldn't smell of barbeque. Maybe it would go on to change things. Or, maybe hundreds of years later, some twat reviewer would be using it to make barely humourous quips at the end of a review.

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One Comment

  1. Edward Edward says:

    I almost bought it on iOS because of this review, but then it came out in the Humble Bundle.
    Excellent stuff, Richie :D

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