The Burning Beauty of ‘Little Inferno’
‘Little Inferno’ is a beautifully simple game with a beautifully simple premise: stay warm in a very cold place. What’s more is that in order to stay warm, you must burn items that you yourself purchase. That’s about it. The art style is similar to other games by The Tomorrow Corporation but there is something particularly special about this game. Although strange on the surface, ‘Little Inferno’ is a brilliant work of art whose atmosphere and simple mechanics reveal a message that can resonate with everyone.
A beautifully simple premise: stay warm in a very cold place.
Have you ever downloaded one of those calming “virtual fireplace” apps for those cold, winter months? Yeah, neither have I. But the fireplace in ‘Little Inferno’ has changed that…sort of. Initially, the game presents the “player” with a catalog of flammable things to purchase and use within his or her own personal fireplace. Want to see what happens when you light a match to a set of batteries? You can do that. What about a container of fireflies? You can do that too. Everything you buy in this game burns (and gloriously, at that), but what’s more is how you go about making more money to continue burning the things you buy. Everything you burn in your virtual fireplace give you more money back than you spent and the game even rewards you for burning items in tandem. Mix in Uncle Sam’s Blam Blams and Russian Nesting Dolls for a little bit of fireworks in what they call the “Cold War Combo.” For a “Bear in a Chinashop”, burn a Feelings Bear Plushie with Fragile China. ‘Little Inferno’s’ surprisingly large catalog feeds this instantly gratifying combination loop to the point where sometimes, I can’t put my controller down.
Did you ever play Farmville? How about Clash of Clans? Well, ‘Little Inferno’ is just as addicting only it doesn’t employ micro-transactions. In fact, the game’s simple loop is so addicting that i’m still trying to figure out the best item combinations I can make after countless hours of play time. My fireplace roars with every successful combo followed by a steady downpour of stamps and coins from the chimney. This instant gratification is like a drug and it keeps me going and going. As I continually feed my addiction, however, my mailbox fills with letters from the little girl next door. Sugar Plumps is her name, and she has a fireplace too.
Sugar Plumps is her name, and she has a fireplace too.
Sugar Plumps drops me a letter from time to time as she burns things in her own fireplace. In fact, she gets so anxious to burn that sometimes she puts a few too many things in her fireplace and the aftermath shakes my own. Her letters (and those from the weather man) are always the same, they keep reminding me to stay near the fire. They keep reminding me that it’s cold outside. What does this mean? Why is it getting colder? And why does it only get colder when I burn more things? Why do I want to burn everything? Who exactly is Sugar Plumps? These questions are all answered, but in a way I never expected.
When the game reached it’s end, I was left with this feeling of promise. The world around me was getting colder, but the inside kept me so warm. This temptation of burning your things is so powerful that the game keeps you trapped in front of this fire. The fireplace was used as a metaphor to tell a more important message. ‘Little Inferno’ taught me that we should not burn away the time we have, that time is precious. Hold onto the things that matter and get rid of the things that don’t. Appreciate the people around you because they may not be around forever. Thanks to The Tomorrow Corporation, the fire inside me burns a little bit brighter.
Header Image Source: The Tomorrow Corporation