Each week our resident Indie Gamer Nicholas takes a look at a different Indie Game that you may or may not have heard about. Join him on his adventures as he sifts through the rubbish to find The Indie Game of the Week.
Today, I figured I’d shift gears a bit, and bring you all a nifty little sandbox known as Little Inferno. It’s a game about burning things, and…you know, that’s pretty much it. You have a specially-made device known as the Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace, and…you put stuff in it and light it ablaze. It sounds simplistic – even boring, perhaps – but somehow it manages to be neither. Instead, it ends up being a wonderfully deep, complex game.
In a sense I suppose it’s more an experience than a game. It’s certainly not going to stand up against a more traditional offering in the game-play department. All you do is burn things to get money and unlock combos; the latter nets you stamps which can be used to speed delivery of stuff you can burn for even more money and combos.
Set in what appears to be some sort of dystopian future where the sun has vanished behind wintry clouds, Little Inferno dishes up some rather troubling questions on how we as gamers engage with the titles we play; how we as consumers address capitalism as a whole. The whole purpose of the game is to purchase things to burn in your fireplace. That, in turn, gets you money with which you can burn more things. Rinse, and repeat, and at the end of the day all we’ve done is burn time and money on empty entertainment.
After all, the world is a cold and unforgiving place. Alone as you are, you need your money to stoke the fires and keep warm. You might freeze otherwise.
When you take a break from the product-burning – when you step back and start to question where you are and what you’re doing – only then do you get a real sense of just how restricted everything is, of just how oppressive an environment you’ve found yourself trapped in. The dim aesthetic of the game doesn’t really help matters; everything seems somewhat washed out, and even the letters you get are somehow bleak and bland – save those from your constant companion, Sugar Plums.
The tongue-in-cheek tone of many of the products in Tomorrow Corporation’s catalogues clashes rather violently with Little Inferno’s atmosphere. Everything about the catalogues is color, comedy, and cheer. There’s not a frown to be seen among the products that can’t be burned off with the liberal application of fire. This, too, is likely a conscious choice from the developer. The catalogues provide the only respite from the frightening, empty world outside, and it’s very easy to find yourself enthralled, eagerly anticipating what you’re going to buy next.
Without spoiling too much, one thing I will say about Little Inferno is that the plot – minimalist though it is – actually ends up being rather awesome, particularly as you move ever nearer the game’s conclusion. Beyond that, the sound and graphics are incredibly polished.
Long story short, if you’re looking for a bit of a change of pace where your gaming is concerned, Little Inferno might be just the ticket. It’s $10.00 on Steam.