I love point and click adventures, so I'm happy there are still people out there making them. You know, those traditional games - not those walking simulators or "narrative experiences" as they're (un)wittily called to hide their low level interaction. The Little Acre, created by a small Irish development team, is just my cup of tea: a traditional point and click adventure with uncanny wit and charm. What I'm not so happy about The Little Acre is how my cup runneth empty too soon.
The Little Acre is set in the countryside of 1950's Ireland. It's not too hot a setting at first, but I felt immediately at home because of my love for period dramas. Not that The Little Acre is a drama. It's more casual fun; something to spend a lazy evening with. Aidan, an unemployed military engineer and his daughter Lily are the unlikely heroes of the game. They're brought to life with a lively hand-drawn animation, illustrating their antics both at home and inside the mysterious portal world they are whisked into. Aidan's engineer father has gone missing and it is his inventions that are the McGuffins of the adventure.
It doesn't take long before Aidan is in trouble and Lily, armed with her wooden toy sword and foolhardy spirit, goes after him. The player alternates between the two as they outwit and out think their way through peril. There are no sudden or surprise deaths because the game plays it nice. Perhaps too nice, as there isn't much thinking to do as a result of the game's disappointing length. The Little Acre feels almost like a prologue to something bigger because it's shorter than a single episode - were it designed to be an episodic adventure game. It takes about two hours to complete the game in a one session. There's even an achievement for completing it in less than an hour.
The shortness is emphasized by the fact I found the game way too easy. Each play area consists of one or two screens and the puzzles contained within can be solved using objects at arm's (or pocket's) reach. If you're too lazy to tease your grey matter, solving a puzzle requires no more effort than trying each object against each onscreen hotspot. In this manner, it's incredibly easy to unlock achievements for using no hints and solutions. To be fair though there's replay value in getting all the achievements as many come from nonsensical acts easily missed the first time around.
Though sometimes derivative in humor and puzzle solving, The Little Acre has a character of its own. A great deal of love has gone into making the game and it rubs off on you. It had such an effect on me that I felt bad punishing the game for its weakest elements. The Little Acre should be celebrated for its talent, artistic know-how, and as a demonstration of its developer's skills. The shortcomings (pun intended) of the game are balanced with its irresistible charm and appeal and ultimately the running time is reduced only to a face value. In the end The Little Acre is a hand-crafted piece of art and I definitely want to see more games from Pewter Games, preferably longer by each outing.
Video game nerd & artist. I've been playing computer and video games since the early 80's so I dare say I have some perspective to them. When I'm not playing, I'm usually at my art board.