A cartoonish bite sized adventure.
Developer: Pewter Games Studios
Publisher: Curve Digital
Format: PC (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4
Released: December 14, 2016
It has been a long time since I’ve found a game to be charming before I even started playing it. That’s not to say I haven’t found myself being charmed by any games in recent memory, mind you, rather it just takes a while for a game to “click” with me before I realise it. But in the case of The Little Acre, it only took me only a few seconds to see the beautiful hand-drawn visuals and listen to its gorgeous soundtrack before thinking to myself, “this is going to be something special.”
Brought to you by Irish developers, Pewter Games Studios, The Little Acre follows the story of Aidan and his daughter, Lily. Following the disappearance of his father, Aidan discovers clues that may just lead to his whereabouts. During his investigation, Aidan stumbles upon a strange machine that ends up teleporting him to a strange new world. Being the brave, little hero she is, Lily quickly follows after her dad in the hopes of rescuing him, while at the same time, Aidan searches for a way to get back home.
As a point-and-click adventure game, the gameplay is pretty standard fare. Throughout the game, you’ll be taking control of Lily or Aiden, walking around the world, interacting with certain objects, and picking up items to use on said objects. It’s nothing new or riveting, but what is impressive about The Little Acre is the way that it’s been designed with accessibility in mind, allowing for both point-and-click fans and those new to the genre to enjoy the game at nearly the same level.
This is seen as soon as you begin the game, starting you off with a surprisingly intelligent introductory puzzle. The task you’re given is fairly straight forward: get Aidan dressed for the day. The catch is that he can’t simply walk over to his clothes, as the creaking floorboards will wake up a currently sleeping Lily. Instead, you need to utilize the small handful of nearby objects in order to get every item of clothing that Aidan needs. It’s a brilliantly designed puzzle that manages to not only introduce how the game’s inventory interaction works without needing to explain it, but also manages to kick your brain into that “out-of-the-box” thinking that is required for a point-and-click.
Another nice little touch for the sake of accessibility can be seen in the game’s use of “Notes”, an extra menu attached to the inventory screen. This menu is primarily used as a way to remind you what your current objective is, but it also offers a small hint to players who may need a little bit of help figuring out what to do next, only to offer the solution if they are completely stuck. I think this is a brilliant addition to a point-and-click like this, as it still offers a way for players stumped by a puzzle to retain that satisfying “gotcha!” moment of figuring it out without feeling stupid for needing to look up the solution elsewhere. However, considering that a majority of the game’s puzzles take place in a singular room containing everything necessary to solve them, I don’t imagine the feature being used by many players.
Where it really shines, however, is in its charming presentation. Without a doubt, there’ll always be something in The Little Acre that will make you crack a grin. It can come down to the beautiful artwork, the ear-gasmic soundtrack, the detailed Don Bluth-esque hand-drawn animations, or even the adorable chibi transformation that Aidan and Lily undergo when they enter the game’s alternate world. For me it was seeing the differences between how Aiden and Lily interact with the world around them. For example, when the two travel to the alternate world of Clonfara, Aiden muses about how strange and dangerous it appears to be, while Lily’s reaction to seeing the strange new flora and fauna around her is a joyous shout of “I wanna live here!” Its shows that Aiden views things through a logical, adult eye while Lily sees things through the imagination-driven eye of a child. And I think it’s a testament to how good the game’s writing is when these little moments like that make the characters all the more believable.
Unfortunately, for all The Little Acre has going for it in terms of accessibility and presentation, the game is incredibly short, only being about three hours at most. As a result, the story does feel a little rushed in some places, ultimately ending just as it starts getting interesting. This is especially apparent near the end of the game, during which the antagonist’s motives are so quickly glossed over that the game may as well just be saying “Eh, don’t worry about it, the game’s almost over anyway.”
Despite its issues with length, however, the game is still a wonderful, if bite-sized experience. With a wonderfully written cast of characters, accessible design, and gorgeous hand-drawn visuals, The Little Acre will appeal not only to point-and-click fans looking for a nostalgic adventure, but also potentially serve as a wonderful entry point for parents to get their children interested in videogames. While I definitely would have loved to see more of Aidan and Lily’s story, I still enjoyed every moment of the short time I spent with it.
Final Score: 4/5
Final Recommendation: Grab it now!