I’ve fond memories when it comes to point-and-click adventure. No, I’m not talking about Telltale Games’ 8000 releases based on popular properties, I’m talking about real point-and-click games that were made with so much thought and humour. Damn, I can still remember the solutions to the puzzles in The Curse of Monkey Island. That Guybrush Threepwood was a goofy fella, wasn’t he?
To this day Lucas Arts’ Monkey Island series is still among my favourite games ever. Why? For one, the writing was impeccable. Humour and wit spewed out of the characters’ hand-drawn mouths. The graphics were never ultra-realisitc, but they were more than serviceable with their brilliant animation style that told the story as much as the dialogue did. My point? I had high expectations going into The Little Acre, but I left a little disappointed.
It’s not bad game by any means, but it’s not without its problems. For one, the story is far too short. The game opens with a short animation before putting you into the hand-drawn shoes of Aiden, one of the story’s main characters. It starts off really strong with a short and simple puzzle that had me trying to get Aiden out of bed without waking his daughter. It serves as a tutorial of sorts to get you familiar with the game’s controls and inventory system. It works, too, but by working so well it shows the lack of depth very early on. See, you can only ever have up to four items in your kit at any one time. This means that when you’re presented with a puzzle, you’re not going to be spending hours trying to get the dog hair to interact with the fire hose, so the challenge is kind of meager. On one hand that’s a bummer as I like a good noggin-scratcher, but I guess on the other it’s aim is to make it less intimidating to players who aren’t familiar with the point-and-click genre.
The story trickles by for the first half an hour in which you’ll have a mooch around the house – it’s called ‘The Little Acre’, cute! – in search of your father, an inventor. Or is he? Going by the weird contraptions lying around his shed, I’d have thought he was more an evil mad-scientist, but it turns out he’s a decent dude. However, he’s nowhere to be found, so by a little trial and error, I managed to follow him through to a mystical world via his home-made portal machine thingy-ma-bob.
It’s here, the other world, that the perspective changes. Rather than being the typical side-on view with some very, very lovely hand-drawn characters and locations, the game flips to an isometric view. I can’t say I was a big fan of this shift, though I suppose I can sort of see the point in it as it does form the basis of a few puzzles here and there. Still, I’m not gonna lie and say that I loved it. I didn’t. End of.
We’re next introduced to Aiden’s daughter, Lily, whom he has now left parentless in the real world. Good job, Aiden… Nah, it’s not his fault and the first thing he thinks about when he comes out of the business end of his father’s contraption is his daughter. He’s a good guy and a likeable character, too, and that’s in no short part due to the voice actor’s talent. In fact, I’d say that, aside from the first part of the game’s presentation, the voice work is the strongest part of The Little Acre.
It’s a shame that I can’t be saying that about the game’s story or gameplay. The story runs far too short. Just as I was really getting invested in this intriguing cast of characters, with little Lily being the highlight due to her hilarious nature, the game ended and I was left wanting more. Four hours is what I got out of The Little Acre, though now I know the solutions to puzzles, I could probably blast through it in just a fraction of that time, though whether I want to is another matter.
I replayed The Curse of Monkey Island at least a handful of times through my childhood, and that’s because it just kept on delivering. The Little Acre doesn’t have that same pull. Nothing, barring a couple of exceptions, stands out. It’s a shame because I really wanted to have The Little Acre do for me what Monkey Island did all those years ago, but it looks like I’ll either have to wait for a follow-up or wait for The Curse of Monkey Island to get its arse onto GOG.
The Little Acre PS4 Review
Overall - Good - 6.9/10
Filled to the brim with whimsy and charm, The Little Acre is a pleasant little game – little being the operative word. The story, while being interesting and well-played out due to the very likeable characters, is over all too soon. A few more decent puzzles wouldn’t have hurt either, but as it goes, it’s a good game. It’s just too short and a bit on the easy side.
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Reviewed on PS4 Slim.