Buy The Little Acre
Nostalgia can be a powerful thing. Memories can evoke stronger feelings than even the most flawless of narratives. From start to finish, The Little Acre feels like a trip down memory lane, the work of people who grew up with the vivid Don Bluth-style cartoon of that era. Based on the look, the feel, and the style, the game could've easily been a cult classic in the '90s, not a new game from 2016. That isn't inherently a bad thing, though. Sometimes, nostalgia is just what a game needs.
The Little Acre follows the story of a small Irish family, Aiden and his daughter Lily. The pair live in a small comfy cottage with their pet dog, Dougal, and Aiden's eccentric inventor father, Arthur. When Arthur goes missing, Aiden and Lily team up to find him. This simple trip leads them into a dangerous world of magic and mystery; there's the promise of adventure and the chance to save the world from evil. Along the way, they'll meet some kooky characters and encounter implausibly wacky situations, so they must work together if they want to return to their peaceful lives.
Story-wise, The Little Acre is straightforward and to the point. It has its moments of cynicism, but they are tempered by Lily's incredible enthusiasm. The game is largely bright and colorful, so it's very much like a Disney film. Occasionally, you'll have obstacles to overcome, but the tale doesn't get so dark that it's a barrier to your enjoyment. As such, this game is absolutely recommended for parents with young children. If they're able to put up with the occasional Maleficent or Captain Hook, they should have no problem with the ne'er-do-wells in The Little Acre. It's charming and frequently made me laugh.
Before anything else in The Little Acre, you'll see its beautiful, hand-drawn visuals They are easily the most distinctive and excellent aspects of the title. The backgrounds are lush, and the characters are so vivid that they absolutely pop off the screen. Even the voice acting and the soundtrack work together to give The Little Acrethe feel of a cartoon, not just a video game. This is really what sets apart The Little Acre. It certainly isn't the first hand-drawn adventure game, but it's been a while since we had one that looks this good. It seems custom-tailored to hit all of the nostalgia buttons, especially if you're a parent who grew up playing these games. Sometimes the backgrounds can be a little too blurry, and some of the hand-drawn animations look a little awkward, but that just adds to the charm.
In terms of gameplay, The Little Acre is a pretty standard point-and-click adventure. You move characters around the environment and interact with objects. Find specific combinations of items and objects to solve low-key puzzles throughout the game world. Usually, this means using Item A on Object B or finding the correct combination of objects in order to progress. It's mostly there to add humor and some light puzzling to what is otherwise a game about the characters and the story. If you find an item, you'll probably use it right away. Some puzzles are simple, and others involve multiple steps that need to be taken in the correct order, but none of the puzzles are taxing. Whether this is a plus or minus depends on you. If you want a good game for young ones to play with their parents — or even on their own — then this is a solid choice. If you're an adult gamer who's drawn in by the charmingly nostalgic graphics, you might find it too simple when compared to other adventure games.
The game makes good use of its dual-character concept. Aiden is more cynical and grown-up, and Lily is full of enthusiasm. The result is that even when the game takes you to the same area as another character, it feels different. The animations also benefit Lily more from a storytelling perspective. She is so animated (pun intended!) that you can see the amount of love and care put into almost every step she takes, including her rambunctious way of solving puzzles. On the other hand, Aiden helps to temper things a bit. Lily is fun, but if she were the sole protagonist, she'd probably be overwhelming, so having her dad share the screen time keeps her enjoyable instead of overdone.
It's fair to say that The Little Acre is a PC game that's been ported to the PS4 rather than a title that was designed for consoles. The control scheme was clearly designed with the speed and precision of a mouse in mind. There are a small number of puzzles that are challenging because they have a timer, which is generous but clearly anticipates normal clicking. It's won't take more than two or three attempts to finish, but it's a minor flaw that would have me suggesting the game on the PC over the PS4. The control scheme works fine on the PS4 except for those moments, and it's otherwise a good port of a traditionally PC game genre.
The Little Acre's biggest problem is that it's short. It's not a particularly heavy experience and can probably be finished in a couple of hours without too much trouble. Short games aren't necessarily bad, but The Little Acre feels like it could've easily eked out another hour, and it would have been a fuller and more satisfying experience. There's also not much flexibility in how you play, so you'll probably never touch the game again after you've finished it once. It's worth it, since it costs about the price of a movie theater ticket and lasts just about as long. It does make it feel a little thin, especially when you consider how easy it is.
The Little Acre is a charming and very playable adventure game. It's easily to smile from start to finish at the colorful graphics, solid voice acting, and sense of style. It's not a very long or very difficult game, but that's a minor blemish on the whole experience. This title will fit the bill for parents who are looking for a low-cost game to play with very young children. It won't blow your mind or redefine the genre, but the game will leave you smiling. With so many adventure games these days trending toward violence, it's nice to have something that is full of cheer and goodwill.
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