The Little Acre – Review

Ever decided you couldn’t get out of bed unless you put a pair of boots on?

It’s a question The Little Acre puts to you in the opening moments of this quirky, crazy little point and click adventure from Pewter Games.  A game that is as much about coping with loss as it is making you laugh.

For the record,  I wouldn’t be seen dead wearing them in the house, let alone having them next to my bed.

 

The story centres around Arthur, Aidan, Lilly, and Dougal the dog, a small family who live together in a remote little cottage. They’re coming to terms with the death of Aine, Lilly’s mother, when Aidan wakes up one morning to find Arthur – his father – has disappeared. Concerned, Aidan digs deeper, only to find that Arthur has transported to another world known as Clonfira. This upside down world shrinks characters down to a smaller size and sees them interact with all kinds of scary and unorthodox beings.

But as Aidan discovers, Clonfira means more to his father than he ever dared realise, and that he may have also underestimated the inquisitiveness of his daughter in following his lead.

The Little Acre follows fairly standard point and click protocols, but you use the left analog to control Aidan and interact with various areas of the environment using indicated buttons. You can still collect and use items in an inventory by pushing triangle, but often it’s a game about exploring your environment for clues.

However, when the character goes to Clonfira the mechanics change and you’ll switch to an isometric perspective, solving a variety of floor puzzles in order to reach your next destination. The game spreads these out really well by allowing you to assume control of both Aidan and Lily, keeping the feel of the game very fresh while alternating between worlds and perspectives.

I did have some issues with the responsiveness of the mouse pointer when moving between the inventory and the environment, though, and occassionally Aidan would get stuck on parts of the environment, with walking – at times – feeling like traipsing through treacle.

But the big issue? If you’ve watched the trailer then you’ve actually seen more of the game than you expected or probably intended. It’s far too revealing.

So, my advice is go in stone cold. The Little Acre is very, very short. Like, there’s a trophy for completing it in an hour short. Like, a standard playthrough might take you two hours tops short. Some Telltale episodes have lasted me longer.

However, where this succeeds and Telltale often fails is there is no padding, no embellishment. From the moment go, the story moves at breakneck pace and remains compelling throughout. And you will laugh, a lot. Lily and Dougal together are some of the most entertaining characters ever committed to canvas (Trico, eat your heart out) – Their heart-warming relationship and hilarious escapades easily got me through ‘the six laugh test’.

There’s also some replayability here with the various trophies, including speedruns, competency at certain sections, and hidden extras, though no additional endings or multi-choice situations. The Little Acre is extremely linear.

What concerns more, though, is that the narrative takes such a sharp left turn in the final third of the game, it almost feels like content has been purposefully stripped back and the player is missing ‘something’ leading into the final reveal. The transition into it feels a tad disjointed, making the ending feel quite abrupt.

With all the context given to the player, the amount of characters, their narrative development, and a somewhat brief taste of the world, you feel like The Little Acre could very easily have gone a few extra hours without any concerns about that aforementioned padding. Actually, with the amount of questions I have coming away from the game, it probably would have benefitted from it.

The experience is a good one, though. The music is infectious, the artwork is drop-dead gorgeous, the voice acting is as subtle and as profound as it needs to be – each line delivered memorably – and even the puzzles are the right blend of simple and stupidly genius, all complimented by animation that would put Walt Disney to shame.

There’s also that distinct Charles Cecil charm handprinted all over this, making the journey equal measures magical and unforgettable.

Combined with the excellent Silence, the handling of The Little Acre shows hugely positive signs for the future of the adventure genre on all platforms. This controls easily, it looks great, there’s lots of fun characters, and the story is solid.

I do see that the price point could be contentious, though, and ultimately it depends how you view the quality over quantity argument. In cases like this, all I’d say is don’t allow the amount of content on offer to be the sole indicator of how much hard work you think has been put into the end product. You only need to take one look at the hand-drawings to see this wasn’t thrown together overnight.

That being said, please don’t let this be the end. There are so many potential scenarios that could have come before, during, and after the story, with any combination of the characters. Pewter Games have got a great thing going here, and at a time where game leads are failing to make us give a damn, I can honestly say I want more from Clonfira, I already miss Dougal and Lily’s banter, and I reckon there’s more to things than we’re being led to believe. Maybe not a sequel, but perhaps something to fill in the empty gaps that have been left behind.

Pros
+ Genuinely endearing characters and story
+ Flexible control scheme that works well in the adventure genre
+ Drop dead gorgeous art style
+ Clever switch between traditional P&C and Isometric Puzzle Solving

Cons
– So short and elements of the narrative left unresolved
– Occassionally sluggish motions
– Limited replayability value


The Little Acre

8 out of 10

Platform review on :- PS4

 

About the author

Ray Willmott

Ray is one of the original founders of Expansive. He is also a former Community Manager for Steel Media, and has written for a variety of gaming websites over the years. His work can be seen on Pocket Gamer, PG.biz, Gfinity, and the Red Bull Gaming Column. He has also written for VG247, Videogamer, GamesTM, PLAY, and MyM Magazine,
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