The Little Acre PS4 Review
Publisher: Curve Digital Developer: Pewter Games Studios Genre: Point & Click Adventure
Players: 1 Age Rating: 7+ Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One
The Little Acre lives up to its name, being a game that is rather short, but is undeniably sweet in its nature. Taking place in 1950s Ireland, the story follows Aiden and his young daughter Lilly, as they try to find out what has happened to her grandfather who has mysteriously vanished. The grandfather was an esteemed inventor, with contraptions all over their small land, but does that have anything to do with his disappearance?
The Little Acre is a point-and-click adventure game, and controlling both characters at different points, you basically walk everywhere you can and click on anything that has an interact icon next to it. Upon first controlling the characters, I was a bit jarred by how they move about. The animations look like the old flash animations and because they are 2D, moving them around can be a bit finicky. Seeing as these 2D characters also move around a 3D world, that made it all the more confusing and certainly put my depth perception to the test. There will also be times when you don’t control a character, instead clicking on areas of the screen using a pointer, and I must admit I would have preferred the entirety of the control scheme to have been done this way, as the movement didn’t feel very natural at all.
Mostly, The Little Acre is a game which avid gamers won’t be particularly impressed with, but I would say it is aimed at the younger crowd rather than the hardcore gaming crowd. The pace of the game is steady; it’s on the short side for those with equally short attention spans; the story isn’t overly complex; controls are simple and the gameplay doesn’t stretch its difficulty to max, staying at a tame level throughout. I managed to complete The Little Acre in one sitting, and it only took around two and a half hours. There’s also not much in the way of replayability; the game is rather disposable upon completion because of this.
The gameplay is varied though; you start out exploring the environment of the title of the game, but eventually you are taken to a mysterious land known as Clonfira. The gameplay style does change from time to time and this manages to keep gameplay feeling fresh. As mentioned, sometimes you’ll be in control of the character, other times you’ll be clicking the screen. Other times the camera angle will change so you’ll then be moving your character around an isometric map.
And just like the gameplay, the story also manages to stay simple, but fast paced. There’s never a moment when you’ll feel completely stuck and wanting to move on and while the story is rather generic, it keeps moving all the time, bouncing back and fourth between Aiden and Lilly as you work through their part in the adventure. Strangely you never use both characters at the same time in order to solve puzzles, except towards the end, but one does more work than the other, so it hardly counts. This is a bit of a missed opportunity to incorporate more complex puzzles, though as this is a game aimed at children, I assume the developers wanted to steer clear of anything that would prolong the gameplay, in turn losing their target audiences attention. Everything the game offers has been done with children in mind, so it makes sense that the entire game is short, but sweet.
A game aimed at children though needs equally appealing characters and the game meets those requirements too. The characters aren’t the most well-rounded and have cookie cutter personalities – you have the charming, fish-out-of-water dad, the young daughter who everyone underestimates, but is in fact quite resourceful and brave – and who manages not to be completely annoying. Her lovable sidekick Dougal the flustered dog, who keeps an eye on her and so gets placed in awkwardly amusing situations when she puts herself in danger. There’s Nina, a scientist – and thankfully the developers stayed clear of predictably making her a potential love interest – and another character who is the main enemy. There is also the grandfather, the catalyst for this adventure. Whilst there is a full cast of characters, they are never fully developed, but the voice acting – whilst not the greatest, with Irish accents that seem forced – still helps to give them extra personality and manages to keep them all appealing. The story also manages to insert some humour adding to that appeal, and it is as innocent as you would expect.
The Little Acre also boasts a lovely art style. The 2D animations, during cutscenes, are well done and the 3D backgrounds are charming, though towards the end I noticed some inconsistencies with the sound. At times there was animation but no sound at all, or the sound would be out of sync with what was happening on-screen. It was at a time when the game was drawing to an end, so it was rather distracting and pulled me out of the experience watching something happening with music but no sound effects and this just makes the game come across as a bit of a lazy effort.
In fact, whilst for the most part the game is well made, its overall simplicity could easily be mistaken for the developers only wanting to make a quick game for some easy money, but I am sure that’s not the type of reputation they want to be associated with. However, mostly the game is charming and a good time waster; it’s currently priced at 15% off on the PlayStation Store UK at £8.49, but for what it offers it certainly isn’t worth that price tag and if you are looking to buy a safe game for your children, then I would wait for that price to come down to under £5 at the very least.