Burning things is a lot of fun. You sound like a loony when you say it out loud, even more so if you say it to a therapist, but it’s true. Whether you’re dropping magnesium in water or simply putting flame to incriminating documents, it’s a lot of fun when the orangey-red plumes dance around. This is why things like fireworks and bonfires exist – because that bright, burning heap of wood is fascinating for some reason.
I’m sounding a little crazy now, so I’ll move onto the game. Little Inferno is about burning things, or at least it is on the surface. Throughout the game, you’ll be buying and setting alight everything from wooden blocks to miniaturised planets.
The fires are very pretty.
The Tomorrow Corporation Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace is a game as well as a fireplace. Throw your toys into the fire so you can stay warm because remember – it’s getting cold outside.
This message is repeated throughout the game in letters that you get from a couple of characters. I’m not going to go too much into the storyline of the game, as it’s fascinating and a large part of the wonder hinges on you discovering it as it moves along. Suffice to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery and its rather unexpected ending.
Gameplay wise, Little Inferno is mainly a puzzle game. You start with a fireplace and one catalogue of items for you to order. As you order each item in the catalogue you unlock more in said catalogue until you’ve burnt them all at least once, at which point a new catalogue will be available for purchase, full of things to burn.
When you order an item out of the catalogue, it will take a certain amount of time for it to be delivered, anything up to a few minutes. You can skip this delivery time by using tokens you get from completing combos.
Certain combinations of items being burnt at the same time will check off the relevant combo in your book. The book is your only hint towards these combinations; it will tell you the number of items needed and the title of the combo as a hint. From there, you’re on your own. These combinations can be anything from obvious, such as Bike Pirate (wooden bicycle and toy pirate), to the slightly more subtle Movie Night (corn on the cob and television), and then all the way up to the impenetrable, none of which I will reveal here.
Most of the burnables in the game react in an interesting way to being set alight, as well. The corn on the cob that was previously mentioned, for example, pops into popcorn (hence the Movie Night combo), whilst the nuke you get in a later catalogue will explode, as you might expect.
Some items play with gravity, whilst others play with each other (not in that way).
Finding all the combinations and playing with all the things items do it’s only part of the fun here. Little Inferno is a game with a message – you burn your toys only to immediately move onto another, impatiently waiting for it to be delivered so you can burn it and move onto the next one. The surprisingly bleak look into humanity’s tendency towards waste and its short attention span is belied by the games dry and dark sense of humour, particularly evident in the description of items in the catalogue.
Frankly, Little Inferno is a unique game that manages to be interesting, thought provoking and mystifying all the way through. It is difficult to express how it manages to do these things, as most of it relies on the experience of playing the game and the feelings it conjures with its odd narrative. If you’re a person who enjoys a little thought in their games and appreciates its dark atmosphere and/or setting things alight, then you would be remiss to skip the entertainment fireplace.
Little Inferno is $10 from its official website, which will get you the game for Windows, OS X and Linux, as well as a Steam key. You can also get it direct from Steam for £6.99 if that’s what you prefer for some reason.
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