The RPS Advent Calendar, Dec 21st: Little Party

What is the best party game of 2015? The RPS Advent Calendar highlights our favourite games from throughout the year, and behind today’s door is…

Little Party [official site]!

Adam: Little Party places you in the role of a person on the periphery of other peoples’ fun. You’re a spectator to and facilitator of the good times that a gathering of youths are enjoying. One of those artsy young people is your daughter. You are a mum.

Everything about the set up is unusual. How often do you play as a mum? How often do you play as the person excluded from the central event of a game? How often are you a real character in the real world with real concerns?

Aesthetically, Carter Lodwick and Ian Endsley’s game is wonderful. Gentle music and sounds, and a house that feels half-painted half-remembered. It doesn’t look quite like anything else I’ve ever played, marrying a fidelity of place and feeling with art that can both exaggerate and subdue those feelings.

What’s truly remarkable is that the entire game filled me with a sense of anxiety. Helping my daughter to prepare for this party, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Who among her friends would ruin everything? What secrets would come out into the open as the night unfolded? I listened and looked for unkindnesses, vigilant and defensive.

That attitude perhaps says as much about me, and what I’ve been trained to expect from games (and maybe even what I expect from social situations, ffs), as it does about Little Party. I won’t say whether the unease was entirely unfounded because you can play the game right now for a price of your choosing. It seemed absurd to be so guarded in such a tranquil environment but the situation seemed so precious that I was convinced it might shatter, and terrified that the quiet of that pre-party mood could never be reconstructed if it were shown to be so fragile. Little Party is a delicate thing but the craft behind it is strong.

Graham: I’ve always thought of 2.5D games as a cheap compromise for games whose technology or budget didn’t allow for three-dimensional models. It’s hard to imagine Little Party being half as evocative and beautiful however if it wasn’t for its flat-drawn characters. In still frames, the whole world looks like a hand-drawn cartoon, and I’m nuts about its colour palette. I found myself composing shots like a camerawoman so I could screenshot the nighttime green trees, the warm red house, the deep blue water…

Just like Adam, I felt vigilant throughout the entire experience. Even now I think there are hints at events that go unnoticed by you as you move around the home, but I might just be filling in the blanks with my own assumptions. Certainly those hints don’t present themselves either through the interactions with objects or via the conversations you have with your daughter and her friends.

Those lingering fears aside, the overall experience is one of comfort. From music to art to writing, Little Party is a wonderful place to spend some time – and one of the most delightful games of the year.

Go here for more of our picks for the best PC games of 2015.

11 Comments

  1. cpt_freakout says:

    I see what you did there

  2. sillythings says:

    Okay, that was absolutely lovely, thank you for the recommendation. The art style (and overall mood) made me feel like I was playing a graphic novel – I want to see more like this. The limited camera felt a bit disorienting (or maybe just uncooperative?) to me at times, then again I’ve never been a fan of third person games with a narrow FOV, but I understand the choice – it made the house seem small and cozy and reminded you of your role better than a first-person view could have. I definitely agree with Graham and Adam’s sentiments of vigilance and expecting something unpleasant, and I do wonder how much of that comes from the role you play as, whether that’s just what one expects to be their duty in this case.

    Best party game, though? I feel like that should’ve been Quiplash, just saying.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I played that when Ms O’Connor posted about it. It’s a lovely game!

  4. returnofjake says:

    A nice little game that’s worth playing but a warning from me – it made me very motion sick, and games very rarely do.

  5. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Having trouble coming up with new categories, are we? Making up new categories to spotlight a game you liked, are we?

    • Premium User Badge

      Phasma Felis says:

      I’m sorry, were you under the impression that the purpose of this entire exercise wasn’t to spotlight games the writers liked? Or that there’s something wrong with that?

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      I realise we’re deviating from the 24 approved categories of video game, but Little Party is really nice so we made an exception.

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      kfix says:

      Yes. Like they’ve actually stated numerous times. But don’t let that stop you from being faintly unpleasant at every opportunity.

  6. Henke says:

    Never heard of this one! Will give it a spin tonight. :)

  7. HERP DERP NANOMACHINES says:

    This can’t be a party game, where is the party gameplay? Where are the party graphics and the party co op missions.

  8. Cederic says:

    “Little Party places you in the role of a person on the periphery of other peoples’ fun.”

    Oh, an Aspergers simulator.