Tomorrow Corporation aims to stuff your stocking with the must have toy for the Holidays, transforming the Wii U gamepad into the Little Inferno fireplace. All the good girls and boys looking to stay warm against the onslaught of never-ending winter can flip through catalog pages and order the latest must-have flammable products from the comfort of their home.
Yes, all the left-over splendors of the universe can be yours to burn while delighting at the spectacle and inhaling the sweet plumes of consumerism’s inevitable conclusion, via a proper pretzel twist on the ye olde notion of work-buy-consume-die that was quite a bit more popular to discuss before we all started knocking one another over for new iOS devices.
The larger share of Little Inferno places players squarely in front of the fireplace with a view of dull bricks and an eerie face that smiles with closed eyes. With an emphasis on livening up the scenery, players can press their fingers anywhere within the fireplace to cause a flame to appear, which will promptly catch fire to any objects laying about within that space. After reading and burning the owner’s manual, a catalog of items is presented, allowing players to begin ordering a random collection of items. From plush toys and household goods to planets and nuclear devices, the world and most of its more ridiculous offerings are yours for the burning.
Starting off with a bit of spare change, players are rewarded with money for burning objects, as well as small insects that wander down the chimney. A delivery timer ticks away before each order appears in the mailbox below the fireplace, leaving players to quite often twiddle their thumbs while waiting to continue exploring their inner pyromaniac. The game will often reward players with tickets that can speed up delivery, though the waiting game will likely still drive plenty to frustration – though that’s kind of the clever point.
Each object features a ludicrous reaction to fire, many revealing surprises, such as a can of snakes that spits out flaming syringes and a pixelated bush that releases Duck Hunt’s signature mallard. Placing objects within the fireplace offers a slice of physics-based fun as items flop about and slide around, with greater piles of objects causing the flames to rise ever higher before settling back into crumbling piles of ash players can flick about with their fingers.
There’s an immediate joy in attempting to build ever higher piles of objects to burn, though some will destroy others before the fire is even lit. There’s a game within the game there as well, with some objects capable of causing destruction to others without the aid of fire, as well as others that will freeze everything they come into contact with.
Searching for a sliver of longevity, the game challenges players with 99 combinations of items to discover, where a light play on words requires two or three objects to be burned together for a stamp and some brief applause. Some of these are more obvious than others, such as glasses and staches, while a few others play it clever, such as online piracy and a meta combination that requires burning the beta version of the game itself.
Players will need to solve a few of these combinations in addition to burning every item in a catalog at least once in order to gain access to a fresh catalog filled with wonderfully bizarre new items to burn.
If you’re wondering if the entire game involves sitting in front of a fireplace and burning objects, yes, you’ve pretty well got a handle on the situation here. And whether or not you’d enjoy spending a few hours doing so would be a rather great question. The answer would depend a great deal on whether you enjoy the smaller narrative pulses within a game, such as the way a sword swings or a certain character jumps.
If you enjoy thinking about these things long after a game is over, than you’ll likely enjoy burning a few hours away here.
If you however, prefer the bullets you fire within a game to directly penetrate the brain of something you intend to kill, then you may be less impressed with the offering.
The twisted child marketing mixes shades of Ren & Stimpy’s advertisements for Log with a lost Tim Burton vibe to create a subtle and unsettling narrative undercurrent about the final embers of consumer culture burning against the backdrop of a potentially dying world. The game’s proper ending, which is triggered when players discover four key items to burn together, offers a bizarre trip through the streets of this fading city and the halls of the Tomorrow Corporation, humming haunting lines about leaving the warm and safe isolation of childhood to face an unknown future. It’s equal parts abstract and lovely.
While Little Inferno is also available on PC, the Wii U offers players touch controls via the gamepad as well as the option to play with the Wii-Mote pointed at the television. But there’s nothing quite like pressing your face and fingers against the warm toxic glow of the fireplace via the gamepad, which convinces a great deal more intimacy between the player and their Little Inferno.
Reaching the ending and uncovering all the combinations took me roughly four hours, and as one of the higher priced initial eShop titles, Little Inferno would be easier to recommend for a few bucks less – though it is still hard not to recommend the game, it’s just too damn curious and clever not to. But I wouldn’t hold it against you if that clever energy rubbed you the wrong way. Little Inferno heats up the eShop early for the Wii U with a spectacularly unique offering, but is a bit like a joke that gets less funny each time you hear it – this one just happens to be really amusing out of the gate. It certainly won’t appeal to plenty of gamers looking for a more direct series of actions and rewards.