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Little Inferno?

by Mark Smee   //   6:17 AM on 12.10.2012

A few days ago I bought my first downloadable game on the Wii U. I was almost certain that first game was going to be Trine 2. Then I caught a look at the trailer for Little Inferno and bought that instead.

Spoiler warning straight away, I have finished Little Inferno and Iím about to talk about it, all of it. Please do not read ahead if youíd like to experience Little Inferno first hand, which is something I would recommend.

Little Inferno comes from the creators of World of Goo. I have never played World of Goo but I know it by reputation. I only mention that because it is something I knew going in. I get the feeling that Little Inferno is a game trying to tell me something that I have yet to understand. I canít explain it but I can at least try to recall my thoughts.

ďThere are no points, there is no score, you are not being timed, just make a nice fire and stay warm in the glow of your high definition entertainment productĒ

As anyone still reading should already know, Little Inferno is more of a toy than a game. There is a fireplace. You put items in the fireplace and burn them. Burned items drop coins. You use the coins to buy more items.

My first thought about Little Inferno was; maybe this is a response to the kind of free to play Ďsocial gamesí you can get on smart phones or Facebook. The items that you burn have to be ordered from a catalogue and they take time to arrive. You can bypass the delivery time by spending stamps. Sounds familiar. Iíve played, sorry ďplayedĒ, games like Kingdoms of Camelot and Dragon vale on the iPhone. Stamps are the premium currency of Little Inferno. The only real difference is that stamps are unlocked by playing the game, not by spending money.

Thinking about it a little more, social games are usually about building something. A town, a restaurant, a hotel for puppies. In Little Inferno you build nothing. Everything you buy, you burn. What is this game trying to tell me? That social games are a waste? That social games are empty, all they do is take and take and never really give anything back? Like a virtual fire, no heat. Seems like a fairly dull point. I donít think thatís it.

ďYou donít know me but I thought I would tell you, itís cooold outsideĒ

You could make a case for Little Inferno being a role playing game. In fact I would go as far as to say that Little Inferno is a role playing game.

The world of Little Inferno is cold. It has been snowing for a long time and nobody knows why. The children in this world sit in front of their Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplaces and burn all their toys to stay warm.

There is no question that when you play this game you are one of those children.

You donít have a choice but the game will tell you, donít turn around, keep looking into the fire, keep buying, keep burning. Which is exactly what the child does, itís what you do. What is the game trying to tell me? Is it asking me to think about why I do anything? Buy toys, burn them, it will keep you warm. Keep doing it, donít look away, donít question it.

Little Inferno is quite a sinister game. I donít mean that the people behind it are sinister. I mean that I get the feeling, as I play, that Little Inferno is trying to tell me that something is wrong with the world, with my world.

ďEveryone I know has one and everyone I donít know has one too!Ē

In the world of Little Inferno you are alone. There is the fireplace and you in front of it playing the role of the child. Other people do exist in the world, you donít see them but they send you letters.

One of your correspondents is a little girl called Sugar Plumps. She is your neighbour, which she demonstrates by banging on the wall. Sugar Plumps plays an important role. She is in the same situation as you, but unlike you she has a voice.

Sugar Plumps seems to enjoy her Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace. At one point she relays her excitement at the thought of a free update being released. She also seems to know more than she is letting on. She teases knowledge of a strange object that lurks at the back of the fireplace. It looks like a face but apparently itís not. Yet it can see me?

What is the game trying to tell me? Is Little inferno really all about social games? They donít have faces but they do see everything that you do. A lot of things are like that now. Google, Facebook, Twitter. But we already know that.

ďYou can go as far as you want, but you can never go backĒ

Clearly Iím stumbling blind into some kind of rabbit hole here. Maybe the game isnít trying to tell me anything. Though it certainly has made me think.

The ending sequence in particular is filled with little details which may or may not be important.

Is the sun rising or is it setting? Iím being asked a question directly.

What does it mean?









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