As a fan of adventure games, Pewter Games’ The Little Acre certainly caught my eye. When an inventor goes missing in mysterious circumstances, it follows his son and granddaughter who both travel between worlds to try and find him. It’s a simple premise, but the way The Little Acre opens shows a lot of potential for a game that could join the adventure greats. Sadly it doesn’t reach those heights.
The Little Acre has been developed by small Irish studio Pewter Games, but they also had Charles Cecil as executive producer, co-founder of Revolution Software and one of the minds behind The Broken Sword series. With that kind of pedigree on board you’d expect a game that tells a great story with a number of memorable characters in locations that really capture the imagination. What you get with The Little Acre is a game that ends before it can really get going.
At the beginning you’re treated to a small cutscene where two characters, one of them being the missing Inventor, find themselves in a strange world. Something happens and only one of the characters returns to our world via a portal. From there you’re brought into the game to control Aidan, the inventor’s son, and Lily who is Aidan’s daughter. It starts in an understated manner, with the simple task of getting ready without waking up Lily. which does well at introducing the way the puzzles work nicely.
Like most adventure games you interact with objects by pressing an action button, or merge items together to solve a puzzle. The introduction is fairly easy and from there the difficulty never really changes. At most you’ll have four items to use in environments that have few interactive pieces. In a way this is good because it allows you to focus in on potential solutions, but on the other hand, if you’re looking for a challenge it isn’t ever presented. There is a hint system that gives clues and then the solution, but I never used it once on my first playthrough.
In fact, I played through the game twice within the space of three hours, my first journey taking under two and the second triggering the trophy that is awarded for completing the game in under an hour. After playing through The Little Acre twice it feels like so much has been cut that could have been used to flesh out the story and the worlds that are built within the game.
It just feels like you’re rushing through each scenes after the game’s opening. A couple of characters get basic introductions partway through and just as you feel they’re starting to build up a villain and evolve the relationships between characters, it all just ends. There’s one plot point that should be devastating for one of the characters, but it is pushed aside so quickly that the little jokes and wisecracks that follow feel a bit hollow. The ending feels tied together so loosely that you can’t help but feel Pewter had other ideas that never made it.
The Little Acre is frustrating to review because the artwork is absolutely fantastic and so too are the character animations. The voice work is also top notch and Lily is possibly one of the best characters to be introduced this year, but the way the narrative runs doesn’t do her justice. There’s no true exposition and no build up. Pewter Games have pieces of the puzzle, but they’re missing parts that would complete the whole picture.
The Little Acre feels like an introduction to a much grander series, and to the adventure game genre as a whole. If you or someone you know is getting into the genre then The Little Acre is a good way to ease them in, but if you have some experience with point and click adventure titles then The Little Acre will prove to be no challenge whatsoever with its simple puzzles. Pewter Games’s title has all the ingredients for a great game but it is let down by a plot that feels cobbled together and a very short play time.
Version tested: PS4