Thursday, 24 July 2014

Oh My God, I Love Little Inferno!

 (Before we get going, allow me to say: Oh My God, I Also Love Deadly Premonition!)

 (Also, Spoiler Warning!)

 So, what is Little Inferno?

 It's a fireplace simulator.

 I'm not joking.

 If this does not appeal to you as an idea, do not buy this game.

 I especially urge you not to buy this game and then complain about it on the steam forums. You earn bonus points if you also don't bring Hitler up when someone tries to explain to you why people like it whilst you're not doing those things.

 It's sad that I can genuinely think of someone who did not earn those bonus points.

 So, why would you want to buy this game?

 Well, for starters, burning things is fun.

 And for seconders, this game is very funny.

 And for finallers, this game has a dark and meaningful story.

 You spend most of the game sitting in front of a fire, buying things to throw into a fire, somehow getting more money from doing that, buying more things to throw in the fire, receiving letters and burning your house down.

 Yes, I did just say burning your house down.

 But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

  As previously stated, the game play consists of dragging things into a fire and watching them burn. There, are, however, a number of ways that the game makes this interesting for you.

 First of all, the game has a number of catalogues for you to purchase items from. Each catalogue has twenty items for sale, and there are seven catalogues in total.

 These catalogues are:

  • Chimney Stuffer - the first catalogue Miss Nancy sends to you after you've finished burning the terms and conditions. It includes the item shown above.
  • Totally Recalled Toys - a catalogue that includes such delightful items as a rabid raccoon, light bulbs, a miniature nuclear weapon and the moon.
  • Snooty Foodie - a culinary themed catalogue including such gems as screaming marshmallows, severely past it's sell by date sushi and a juicer that comes free with three dead and moth eaten squirrels.
  • 1st Person Shopper - a video games based catalogue that boasts tetrominoes, a zombie, an evil businessman and an imitation Meatboy who makes jumping noises when you bash his feet against things.
  • Miss Nancy's Guide To Stylish Living - which contains an old woman full of flies, a book called 'The Terrible Secret' that apparently lives up to its name, balloons and a doll that spontaneously combusts.
  • Shop and Awe - a manly catalogue full of manly things, like a chainsaw that triples as a set of drills and a flamethrower, a trophy of manliness, a female doll with low self esteem and a jar of protein powder that is full of sausages and syringes.
  • Existence, Now - a future themed catalogue that will happily sell you robot parents, a clone factory, the sun and the internet.
 My personal favourite of these is the Shop and Awe one. It's full of such ridiculously manly stereotypes it makes me chuckle every time.

 These items are all unique and burn in different ways. Once ordered, you have to wait a certain amount of time for delivery, but you can obtain stamps that can speed up delivery so you don't need to wait as long.

 However, these one hundred and forty items aren't the full totality of what you can burn.

 You also recieve letters from people, and those can be burned. The also sometimes send you items for you to burn as well.

 You recieve letters from:

Miss Nancy, the CEO of Tomorrow Corp.
Makers of the Little Inferno Fireplace.
Sugar Plumps, your next door neighbour
and fellow Little Inferno Fireplace owner
The Weatherman, a weatherman.
He keeps you updated on the horrid weather.
 And the weather is really, really relevant in this game.

 In the instructional video that Miss Nancy sends you (and can be accessed in the catalogue screen at any time) it mentions that the world is getting colder. A lot colder and no one is sure of the cause.

 However, from what the Weatherman tells you, it's actually a pretty safe bet that the cause of the climate change is actually the Little Inferno fireplaces themselves.

 Anyway, both Sugar Plumps and Miss Nancy will send you items and you can burn those items.

 However, there is one item that you probably shouldn't burn.

 Near the beginning of the game, Miss Nancy will send you a coupon for one free hug. If you do not burn it, you can actually redeem it and get a hug from her. No coupon, no hug.

 As well as these additional items and the regular catalogue items, the game also gives you achievements that you get from burning things together.

 There are ninety nine regular achievements and one plot relevant achievement. If you fill the regular achievement list, then you will receive a mouse mat from Miss Nancy that you can burn and get stamps from.

 It's also worth noting that burning combos is the main way that you earn the stamps in this game.

 Now, about that plot relevant achievement.

 As well as her sending you things, Sugar Plumps will ask for you to send her things.

 These items are all special in that the can all affect the face in the back of the fireplace.

 Once you've sent her three of them, she sets her house on fire and disappears from the game until you've unlocked the last catalogue. Then she starts sending you ominous letters, one of which asks you for a pair of sunglasses.

 Now, this is a really interesting point about the game that I want to bring up.

 Prior to Sugar Plumps' disappearance the game seems to be moving at a pretty quick pace, more or less in real time. However, once Sugar Plumps is gone and the only correspondence you're getting is from the Weatherman and a faceless corporation, time becomes incredibly screwed up.

 And I do mean incredibly screwed up.

 Once you've sent Sugar Plumps the sunglasses, you'll recieve a letter shortly afterwards where she says that it feels like ages since she asked for those. After this she'll start encouraging you to burn down your house with the items you've sent her, once you do, you'll learn a few important things.

 One, you've actually been playing as a character the entire time.

This fella. He doesn't have a name.
 Now, this is a pretty big deal. There'd been virtually no indication that you'd had an avatar at all. In fact, during the first conversation you get into once you leave your house, you have the option to say that you'd only just found out that you exist.

 Two, the items were delivered by an actual person who was just walking into your house and putting them next to you.

 And three, a lot of time has passed. And I do mean a lot.

 Here's a picture of Sugar Plumps before her disappearance.

 Here's a picture of her after you burn your house down.

  Holy crap, look at how much older she is now!

(Also, wow, I'm really impressed that they showed ageing this well in such a simplistic art style. Well done, chaps!)

 This isn't the only indicator of how much time has passed. If you don't burn the free hug coupon, one of the characters will say this:

 Just how long did you spend staring into that fireplace, exactly?

 I think this is an excellent example of story telling. At no point does the game ever go 'you've spent years in front of that fireplace lad!', it shows you things and lets you draw your own conclusions based on that evidence. It's very effective.

 So, once you're out of your house and you've read Sugar Plumps' last letter, what do you do now?

 Since the only other person you know in the city is now sunning herself on a beach somewhere, there's only one place you can go: Tomorow Corporation.

 What do you find there?

 Well, I'm not going to tell you. You'll have to find that our for yourself. (Or watch a let's play on youtube. Either/or.)

 So, remember kids, The Future is... Tomorrow!

 And that there's something more dangerous than fire.

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