I was so enthused by The Little Acre when I got to preview the game back in early November, and I eagerly awaited the full release so I could finish up the game in its final form and pen my thoughts on it. Of course, it’s also a worrying time waiting for a game you’re excited for to come out, even if the preview is promising – Iron Fish being a recent example of a game I reviewed which built me up and then massively disappointed me. Thankfully, however, and despite some fresh criticisms of the full game, The Little Acre continues with its delightfully colourful and endearingly quirky form.

 

Set in rural 1950’s Ireland, Aiden lives a simple life with his daughter and his father. Aside from his father’s scientist shenanigans, that is, which one day causes him to disappear. Aiden goes looking for his dad around their home and stumbles upon a peculiar device. After further inspection, the device zaps Aiden into a strange world where alien creatures and plant life reside, and for some reason Aiden looks different as well. It’s not long before he finds evidence of his father in this place, and so he sets off to find him.

 

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But that’s not the entirety of the premise. In case you forgot, Aiden has a daughter, Lilly, who is now left at home. When Lilly wakes up, not only is her grandfather gone, but now her dad as well, so she also sets off to find the both of them, leading to some confusion with the device as they inevitably both cross in and out.

 

The game takes most of its inspiration from the traditional point and click adventure. You play throughout the game as both Lily and Aiden, as you might imagine, switching between the two to progress in their own search. The various environments contain interact-able objects and the odd item to pick up, combining a mixture of item based and logic puzzles. Typical point and click puzzling basically, though The Little Acre is a bit more laid back with regards to this than other games. There’s not quite the same level of hording seemingly random items that you may use for future puzzles, and certainly not the range of bat-shit logic puzzles that a lot of traditional point and clicks employed (to the game’s credit in my opinion).

 

On the one hand this does allow for a more fluid experience – stopping briefly to take in the environments, hearing comments from Aiden and Lilly about objects and such, exploring a bit and then solving a problem to progress. However, on the other hand, it is all a little bit easy, and the game’s pace suffers as a result. You flit from one scene to the next without much time to take any of it in, characters are introduced that you don’t really get to know, and then before anything has time to sink in the game is over. And that’s no exaggeration, the game lasts less than two hours. It’s such a crying shame, because most everything else about the game is brilliant. It’s genuinely just a case of: ‘there’s not enough time to enjoy the great things on offer’.

 

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Speaking of which, the world that The Little Acre presents is beautiful. I mentioned all this in the preview, but assuming you’ve not read that (which, to be fair, you probably haven’t), the backgrounds and designs are delightful. The rustic home in which Aiden lives is colourful and quaint. The wooden architecture and vast views of fields is gorgeous, especially considering how colourful and well animated the game is. The environments are a real joy to view and explore.

 

And the exploration and puzzling is a pleasant experience as a result of this bright and quirky aesthetic. I compared the game to Disney animation previously, which may be off the mark, but it’s the first thing that sprang to mind. Lily is boisterous and cheeky, Aiden is more responsible but still innocent and humble, and the world is so pleasantly drawn. There’s been a lot of effort put into the art, and it sets the game apart from others in the same genre.

 

As for the gameplay, the majority is fairly laid back, though engaging and interesting enough. The puzzles involve looking for objects to interact with, finding items, and then combing the two. Some puzzles do require a bit of unorthodox thinking, but the game provides a hint system whereby if you get stuck you can ask for a hint, then if you still can’t solve the problem, you can reveal the solution. There’s no penalty for this, unless you care about achievements, but I suppose the idea of just getting told what to do may defeat the point for some players. I enjoyed the majority of the puzzling, and with the context and comments from Aiden and Lily, it combines to make an enjoyable, humorous experience – even if it is a bit easy.

 

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Having said all that, the length and pace of the game is an issue, and as far as the gameplay, it is really just an average point and click. So what really makes the game stand up is the world, writing, and acting. The dialogue is humorous and well presented, and there’s a wholesome feel to much of the world. In some places the animations go a bit awry, but otherwise I can’t stress enough how much I loved the look and feel of the game.

 

If you’ve already revealed the score for this review, you may be thinking it’s a bit of a low score considering what I’ve just said. But the pacing and length issue is such a big deal that I feel it really hampers the overall experience. When the game ended I wasn’t satisfied, there were characters I’d basically only just met and didn’t really know anything about, and I felt unfulfilled as a result.

 

This makes it difficult to recommend. I suppose on a final note, if you’re looking for a short adventure game, the aesthetic may endear you, and I think there is a lot to be enjoyed with the humour and story, however just be well aware that it will be over shortly and the actual gameplay can be simplistic and easy. A top effort, but unfortunately not quite all that it could be.



Author

John Little
John Little

I started gaming with the release of the PS1, and have been enthralled with the medium ever since. I particularly love strategy and horror games - Silent Hill 2 and Shogun 2 being a couple of my all time favourites. I became adamant that I wanted to be a video game critic after discovering YouTuber TotalBiscuit, and subsequently took on (and completed) a Journalism course, hoping to one day play and talk about video games for a living...or, you know, just as a hobby.