Review: Little Inferno (Switch)


Don't put it out, Let the mother&^[email protected] burn!

The rise of Facebook in the late '00s shifted how people use the internet. With the gradual shift away from simply being a networking site, game developers were given a new platform to create games on. Sadly, most of these developers (*cough* Zynga *cough*) made small Skinner Box games to sucker people out of their hard-earned money.

Many of these titles had a cute or interesting appeal, but they slowly become a boring slog of waiting out cool-down timers or paying to expedite the process. Essentially, make the game with a strong hook and then pad out the gameplay so that people who are still engaged get tempted to pry open their wallets.

Little Inferno is a satire of such games. More than just poking fun at things like FarmvilleLittle Inferno takes an insightful look at what drives people to play games and how real life can be neglected due to how alluring interactive entertainment can be.

Little Inferno (iOS, Android, PC, Wii U, Switch [Reviewed])
Developer: Tomorrow Corporation
Publisher: Tomorrow Corporation
Released: November 18, 2012 (Wii U), January 31, 2013 (iPad), December 3, 2013 (Android), March 16, 2017 (Switch)
MSRP: $9.99

There isn’t much to say about the gameplay in Little Inferno. This is a virtual fireplace where you burn things. The backstory sells the gimmick, taking place in some kind of dystopian future where life outside has been covered in snow for quite some time. You order stuff from a catalog, throw it in the fireplace and have at it.

While that is well and good, the presentation is what keeps Little Inferno from becoming too monotonous. You’re going to be staring at that fireplace for basically the entire duration of the story mode, so it thankfully looks very nice. The fire effects for lighting stuff ablaze are also quite detailed and I love how fire will swirl as you drag things through it, or how the smoke reacts to being shifted by an object.

Some of the items have personalities too, like a toy bus with miniature people inside that will scream in agony when set on fire. It's the kind of screwed up malarkey that only a satire could get away with, as there is no way to take that detail with a straight face.

The progression through the story is simple; you buy items from a catalog, burn them, make combinations of items to unlock the next catalog and then continue the process until you're done. It exists to make you question why certain types of games became popular when their mechanics are so devoid of player interaction.

Higher priced items from the catalog will have a longer shipment time, meaning you’ll need to occupy yourself some other way while waiting for an item to arrive. It mirrors the ridiculous nonsense of waiting 24 hours for a tree to grow in a digital garden; just not taken to that extreme (the longest wait for an item is six minutes). Along with that, you'll receive letters from the Tomorrow Corporation and your next door neighbor, both of which seem to appear from a phantom mailman.

There is a tinge of cynicism that exudes from Little Inferno throughout most of the run-time, making you question whether you're making the best utilization of your time. You will sit inside all day, toiling away at banal video games and feeding the corporate machine while the world outside goes on and actually accomplishes something; that is the statement Little Inferno is making about the likes of Facebook gaming.

Still, I can't help but feel a bit miffed that this game still employs those same concepts while trying to poke fun at them. This is reminiscent of how in The Simpsons Game, you'll hear Homer moan over how boring fetch quests are while going on a fetch quest; you can't mock something (wait timers) and then do nothing to change it.

That complaint aside, how the story ends definitely makes up for a lot of the vapid nature of the game. It is certainly fun to watch things slowly burn away, but there are only so many times I can set the same item on fire to grind out cash before I become disinterested. Without any kind of motivation to continue on, I feel Little Inferno would just be an oddity and nothing more.

As for whether or not you should get this Switch port, the only reason to pick this up over a previous version is for the inclusion of "co-op". Since each Joy-Con has full pointer control, you can give the second controller to a friend and burn things together. I wouldn't call it the biggest addition, but it has its merits. You can also just opt to use both Joy-Con yourself and get double the burning action.

There is also the benefit of having this on a portable console, though I suppose the iPad and Android versions would be exact mirrors of this. With the Switch, you can immediately shift from TV to portable and use the touch screen on the go, so the inherent benefit of the platform is put to use.

The game runs in full 1080p when docked and has surround sound support (not that the back speakers get much love). It suffers from some slowdown while burning multiple items, which is odd for a supposedly more powerful console. It never breaks the game, but I would have figured this type of performance problem would be worked out.

With all that being said, if you absolutely must have this on your Switch or don't already own it on another platform, Little Inferno is perfectly fine on Nintendo's new box. The added cooperative functionality has some benefits, but I wouldn't say you're missing out if you opt for a different platform.

Maybe the $10 price tag is a bit much for a now five year old game (especially one that has been on sale), but if you like pondering your own enjoyment of gaming and want to do it both on the go and at home, this version offers the opportunity.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]

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Little Inferno reviewed by Peter Glagowski



Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
How we score:  The Destructoid reviews guide


Peter Glagowski
Peter Glagowski   gamer profile

Former Dtoid staff member. more + disclosures



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    Filed under... #Android #Downloads #Indie #iPad #Nintendo Switch #PC #reviews #Wii U



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