Is there anything better than being pleasantly surprised by a game? Well, probably. Nevertheless, The Little Acre was a pleasant surprise – and a mighty big one at that. The Little Acre had flown completely under my radar, but I am so glad that I got the opportunity to play it. Being an indie game, it’s likely to not receive the same attention as those coming from larger publishers, but I’d recommend this game to anyone. After completing the game, I immediately went through and played it all over again. Want to know why? Of course you do.
The Little Acre is newbie studio Pewter Games’ debut game. Set in the gorgeous 1950’s countryside, The Little Acre’s namesake is the family home of Arthur, Aiden, and Lily. I’m going to do my best not to spoil anything major in the story, since it’d take away from the experience when you play it yourself. I will reveal no more than watching the trailer for the game will.
One day, Aiden woke up to find that his Father, Arthur, had disappeared without a trace; no note, no message, nada. During the tale of The Little Acre, Aiden and Lily inadvertently end up on an adventure, retracing Arthur’s footsteps and unravelling the mystery of his disappearance.
Arthur was a keen and enthusiastic inventor, and you will make use of several of his contraptions which are scattered around the house. Eventually you will travel to an alternate dimension. In this world, called “Clonfira”, reality itself is altered. The game shifts to an isometric style, allowing you to make the distinction between normal, and Clonfira. It is cleverly done and while the transitions are seamless, you can always tell there is something mysterious and different about Clonfira – other than the mystical and mythical creatures, of course.
You will move around and explore using the analog stick, and you inspect and pick up objects using the A, B, and X buttons. Pressing Y will open the menu which contains the inventory, the settings, and the hints and solutions tab. Your inventory is self-explanatory – it contains the items you have acquired on your adventure and the items you need to use to progress. The Little Acre offers some hand-holding and if you’re particularly stuck at a certain part of the game, you can request a hint or a solution to see what needs doing next. For the most part you will be able to figure out the puzzles and challenges with just a bit of trial and error, however it’s a nice option to open up the game to younger players who want to explore the world of Clonfira and The Little Acre.
My one gripe with the game is that the menu is a bit hypersensitive. Perhaps it hasn’t been properly optimised for use with an analog stick, but I often found myself scrolling past the item or tab that I required, meaning I had to scroll back. When speed is key (hint: at several points of the game, it is), this is really irritating.
The puzzles in the game aren’t the most challenging you’ll come across, but The Little Acre isn’t so much about the challenge, it’s about the journey, the sense of adventure you get when you’re hopping across floating stepping stones in a mysterious, unknown, untouched world. The bond you build with the characters only accentuates and adds purpose to every puzzle or obstacle that has to be overcome. At its heart, The Little Acre is a game about family, and the way the characters have been developed, both in backstory and in reality, really shows this off.
Speaking of which, the characters in The Little Acre are beautiful. Hand-drawn and animated, Aiden and Lily are of course the main focus, but the characters you meet on your travels, your companions and your enemies are full of life and emotion. Bugsy, Lily’s caterpillar/dog companion in Clonfira stood out especially. With no lines or speech to use as an aid, it must be hard to develop a mute character, however Pewter Games have managed to make Bugsy funny, caring and kind.
The main playable character’s development is in no small part due to the terrific voice acting and script. Whether the lines are funny, sad, or serious, the actors deliver them perfectly and build upon the adventure. The Little Acre is rather aptly named – in fact there’s an achievement for completing the game in under an hour, however in that short time, it is still able to evoke a whole host of emotions from the player. You’ll be happy, you will laugh, you’ll worry about the characters, and most of all you will relate to them. The Little Acre is a masterclass in building empathy for its characters.
Aiden is a calm, laid back father who loves Lily to bits. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for her, however he doesn’t really seem to ever get too worried or stressed about anything. It’s probably a good job, because in contrast with Aiden, a.k.a. Mr Laid-back, Lily is a hyperactive girl who will do the most dramatic actions possible to get the job done. The contrast between the two playable characters makes for many funny and memorable moments, with highlights being when the two are in the same scenes.
The score for the game is never overly intrusive, it’s never so dramatic that it begins to take away from what’s happening visually in the game, but instead serves beautifully as a kind of backing track for your adventure. Along with the isometric world transitions, the music changes to a more unfamiliar, foreign tone when you enter Clonfira, playing even more on the fact that this world is not your own, it’s not a familiar or particularly friendly place to be. I really enjoyed the music of the game, even though it took a back seat to the visuals and storytelling.
Ultimately, The Little Acre is a gorgeous point and click adventure, but I guarantee it will leave you wanting more. It’s not revolutionary in gameplay or even in the story it tells, but it is just so charming that it is an experience that will stick with you long after you’ve left Aiden and Lily in their idyllic country home. In fact, if I could only write one word for this review, it would be: Charming.
I simply can’t state it enough.
I am in love with this game.