The Little Acre is the first commercial outing from Irish game developers, Pewter Games. Harkening back to classic LucasArts titles such as The Secret of Monkey Island or Day of the Tentacle, The Little Acre is a point-and-click adventure game focused on environmental puzzle-solving. Though it exudes endless amounts of charm, The Little Acre’s short length and overall lack of depth ultimately produces a game that will have little to offer most gamers.
Upon starting the The Little Acre, it is immediately apparent that much of Pewter Games’ efforts were likely poured into the game’s aesthetic. The hand-drawn art-style and animations are simply beautiful, ensuring that every screen of the game is bursting with life and allure. The music and voice-work is similarly endearing, and it is difficult to not be enamored by the interdimensional antics of the protagonist, Aiden, and his daughter Lily. Quite frankly, The Little Acre is adorable – and the game itself seems to be aware of this fact. The attention to small details in the scenery, alongside the subtle intricacies of the characters’ animations, is sure to have players smiling throughout the game’s run time.
Unfortunately, though, that runtime only sits at roughly two hours or so. Throughout their short play-though, players will find themselves collecting a small arsenal of items from the environment in order to solve small puzzles that push along the game’s narrative in classic adventure-game fashion. Unlike the point-and-click adventures of yore, however, The Little Acre strays away from the utterly convoluted and nonsensical puzzle-solutions that made up portions of older Sierra and LucasArts titles. That being said, the simplicity of The Little Acre’s puzzles seem to be undoubtedly targeted at younger audiences. While this keeps the game progressing at a brisk pace, the answers are all but handed to players. The Little Acre requires little in the way of mental gymnastics, and puzzle-solutions therefore feel to be of little consequence.
The narrative suffers from similar problems. Players assume the role of the jobless Aiden and his daughter Lily as they embark on an adventure to find Aiden’s presumably eccentric - mad-scientist inventor - father. The story moves along at a clip that suits the breezy comedy that the writing and animation-work support, making for an experience that would best be described as “cute,” if achingly sentimental. The brevity of the entire experience really damages what the aesthetic works so hard to build, however. There is some genuine intrigue and mystery to be found here, but unanswered questions and an abrupt finale makes for an unsatisfying tale that fails to match the same sorts of children’s narratives that it is clearly emulating.
On the whole, The Little Acre might make for an entertaining couple of hours to spend with the family, but offers little substance or lasting appeal. This does not suggest that the game is without merit, and one can only imagine the countless hours that the team at Pewter Games poured into the The Little Acre’s art and animation. Beauty aside, however, the game simply isn’t supported by its art-style alone. The Little Acre comes close to being a truly memorable experience – to satisfying a point-and-click itch that even the modern works of TellTale and Sierra fail to scratch. The backbone for a great adventure game is present here; here’s hoping that Pewter Games can take what they have learned to work on a larger, more complete project in the future.