Status: Complete, all combos performed
Most Intriguing Idea: Games are a waste of time
Best Design Decision: The “gamification” feedback loop is really well-constructed.
Worst Design Decision: The loop so dominates the game that its real point feels disingenuous.
Little Inferno for me felt like it had the same problem as Spec Ops: The Line – it is too much what it’s trying to critique. The game’s loop of burning items to earn money to unlock or buy more items is really effective at driving play, so much so that the game’s later lament about lost time feels more like an embarrassed admission of guilt than a compelling message about priorities. I’ve got no intrinsic problem with the game’s moral, but it seems like something that could be just as effectively – and more honestly – conveyed by a 15-minute free flash game as by a 3-hour $10 downloadable. But even though it gets too preachy at the end, the game is fun and some of the toys and combos are cute.
Verdict: Cautiously recommended