Have You Played… Little Inferno?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Little Inferno [official site] is a game about burning things. It’s also a game about games, a deconstruction of in-app purchases, and tap- and click-based repetition.

I thoroughly enjoyed Little Inferno. If there was a Black Mirror episode about the current (the game was released four years ago but its targets are still relevant) state of mobile gaming, it’d probably look a lot like this. Well, it’d probably look completely different because Little Inferno as Tomorrow Corporation’s signature art style, cutely sinister, and it’s nothing at all like what you’d expect from a Black Mirror episode – but this is the kind of satire that makes you think, “oh blimey, the people who made this really must hate games”.

That’s not true, of course. Tomorrow Corporation have gone and released another game since Little Inferno, proving that they quite like the damn things, and members of the studio were behind the somewhat similar World of Goo.

In terms of playstyle, they’re nothing alike, Inferno and Goo, but the twists and turns of their plots explore some of the same ideas. Inferno is creepier though, and funnier too for my money, and it’s a shame that it loses some of its bite as it moves toward an ending.

You might find it preachy or a little too obvious to justify all of the work it makes you do to reach that ending, but I had a smile on my face as I turned away from the flames.


  1. Kefren says:

    I really enjoyed this, more than I expected. I introduced my nephew to it recently and he loved it too – then after he left I couldn’t help but go back into it myself and burn things all over again. There is something therapeutic about the game that I wouldn’t feel if I was _really_ burning things. Maybe it’s the colours. Or the smooth simplicity of it.

  2. MikoSquiz says:

    It’s yet another one of those games with a Big Clever Message that’s much better if you ignore the stupid Big Clever Message and just enjoy it for what it is without. I also found it much more enjoyable than World of Goo, fwiw.

  3. Risingson says:

    Yeah. There was not much to play and actually I felt like I was playing with a toy of a 4 year old kid, but it was cute.

  4. DoubleG says:

    Fun thing about this game — kids love it! Whenever I visit my nieces they ask to play the “burning game”.

    Also fun — their parents aren’t sure how to feel about an adorable game about arson!

  5. GameCat says:

    I’ve played it in the middle of one of the biggest winter I’ve ever lived through. It was quite an experience.

  6. nimbulan says:

    I personally found this game got very tedious very quickly. The fire simulation was cool at the beginning, but as the game progresses you spend more and more time just sitting around waiting for more things to burn to arrive. The story wasn’t really interesting enough to compensate for the poor gameplay pacing.

    • padger says:

      This was of course the entire point of the game. It was a parody of the vast swathe of games which are basically just tidying up stuff you wait to appear. Which meant it was actually *intentionally* bad? Confusingly meta and ultimately just an idea that was too clever to be achieved without provoking this response from the people playing it.

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        Speaking generally, bad games are bad and often not worth playing. It’s even worse if they’re intentionally bad, but I guess they can make up for it sometimes, which is why I didn’t write “never worth playing”.

  7. elektritter says:

    I just love Little Inferno, it honestly is one of my favourite games.

  8. draven says:

    This game is (un?)questionably *art*, for good and bad.

  9. Sin Vega says:

    I’d never heard of it, but got it in a bundle (I think), and it was a lovely surprise. Wasn’t expecting the final act at all, which is probably made all the difference. I imagine going into it knowing it’s About Something would weaken it. But that soundtrack was spectacular.

  10. Foosnark says:

    I really enjoyed the game, the story, the atmosphere. It did start to get tedious near the end, just a little, but I still found it charming/creepy.

  11. Marclev says:

    As others have said, I primarily remember this as being very disappointing as there wasn’t actually much to do other than throw things into the fire, which got quite samey quite quickly. I felt at the time that it was actually something of a bait ‘n’ switch, as everybody was expecting something that was up to the level of their previous offering, and what you got was a glorified desktop toy.

    I actually seem to remember generally quite widespread criticism of it being a huge let down after the wonderful World of Goo, so surprised to see the quite positive retrospective.

  12. corinoco says:

    It’s a really lovely little game; yes it’s repetitive but it’s meant to be. Its not just a critique of an game genre – it’s more a critique of our entire capitalist society. It’s possibly even a mirror of civilization itself: Is this it? Is this what we are here for? Yes. Burning things. The tiny frisson of pleasure as you destroy something of value – that’s civilization right there. That’s all it is. That’s all you get. Ashes to ashes indeed.