Little Inferno Game Poster Image

Little Inferno

(i)

 

Players burn possessions in dark, anti-consumerism puzzler.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Little Inferno wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

Positive messages

On the surface this is a simple puzzle game that may satisfy (or stoke) people's desire to burn things. However, beneath this veneer rests criticisms of our consumerism culture and the effects that it has on both our psychological health and the environment.

Positive role models

The characters -- including children -- are obsessed with burning everything and anything. They are not good role models for kids, especially those already bitten by the firebug.

Ease of play

All players do is drag stuff into a fireplace to burn it. Between fires they can flip through catalogues and order more stuff to burn. The only tricky part of the game is figuring which things need to be burned in tandem in order to satisfy criteria to earn badges. Simple experimentation and a bit of common sense tend to yield good results.

Violence

Players burn objects -- not people or creatures -- in a fireplace.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

Players buy and then immediately set alight various virtual products. In this way the game's designers mean to deliver a commentary on excessive consumerism.                 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Among the items you can burn are "magic mushrooms" and a "mid-life crisis mitigator" (a wine bottle).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Little Inferno is a downloadable game for computers and Wii U that simply involves burning dozens of different objects -- including lots of toys, "magic mushrooms," and bottles of wine -- in a fireplace. It may give kids some bad ideas about playing with fire. However, it's meant to be a darkly humorous puzzle game for slightly older players, and offers clever commentary on excessive consumerism and its potential environmental impact.

What's it about?

Players begin LITTLE INFERNO as lucky recipients of the titular product: a fireplace for kids in which children are encouraged to burn all of their possessions -- then buy more and burn those, too. As players continue feeding the fire they are rewarded with coins used to purchase more burnable objects from catalogues. If they burn specific objects at the same time they'll earn badges and unlock new catalogues. While this is going on, letters begin appearing in the mail from a mystery sender suggesting that there may be more to the activity of burning than meets the eye. The only way to learn more is to keep on buying and burning…

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Made in part by two of the fellows who helped create indie hit World of Goo, Little Inferno is deceptive. On the surface it's simply a game with a slightly dark and sinister vibe about kids burning stuff. Dig a little deeper, though, and you'll find a sly, subversive commentary on our consumer culture and a dreary foretelling of its impact on the environment.

The most interesting thing about it, perhaps, is how much fun the simple act of burning stuff in the fireplace can be. There's really not much here beyond throwing things into a fireplace and watching them burn in different ways, but this activity is surprisingly mesmerizing, satisfying, and even a bit addictive. And what does that say about us, even if we are in on the joke? It's a decidedly unusual and weirdly engaging bit of interactive entertainment, but probably best appreciated by older players.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about consumerism. Buying and owning things can be fun, but how do you ensure you're not overdoing it? How do you know you aren't spending more money than you can afford on non-necessities?

  • Families can also discuss the environment. How long do you think our world can support billions of people obsessed with buying and disposing of non-essential objects? Do you think people should change?

Game details

Platforms:Mac, Nintendo Wii U, Windows
Subjects:Science: energy, physics
Skills:Thinking & Reasoning: deduction, solving puzzles
Price:$10
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Tomorrow Corporation
Release date:November 18, 2012
Genre:Puzzle
ESRB rating:T for Drug Reference, Crude Humor

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Quality

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byArcancielle October 15, 2013

Thought Provoker

This "interactive toy" is a method for the folks at Tomorrow Corporation to get their deep and thoughtful message across. This game parodies consumerism and what we call entertainment. A fun toy for little kids and a thought provoker for adults.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Safety and privacy concerns
Parent Written byrdolphin January 22, 2014

Not for kids!

I happened to have looked over my son's shoulder and he was burning a school bus full of kids who were screaming..... Definitely not what I want my child to be involved in!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 15 years old Written bySalsander December 26, 2013

OK for kids in middle school

Little inferno is more of an passive experience rather than a game. You spend a majority of the game burning items you buy from a company called the "Tomorrow Corporation (TC)". The TC has a dystopia nature. Everyone in you neighborhood has a fireplace and burns items from the TC and doesn't go outside in fear of freezing in the snow. There are many themes of consumerism throughout the game and it shows the pitfalls of over-consumption. The most mature part about the game perhaps is the burning, which may cause kids to have an itch to start a fire. The items you will burn range from a number of household items such as toys and kitchen utensils. For the most part, nothing you burn is alive (except for some bugs and fish); although what your protagonist burns isn't safe. You can burn the fuse of a bomb, a package of batteries, a chainsaw, and many other dangerous items without consequences. However, as the story progresses, your neighbor who constantly sends letters to you has an accident with her fire place and nearly dies. Apart from that, you can burn liquor and some pharmacy drugs, although you can never consume these yourself. There is a toy you can burn called "low self esteem action doll" who carries a bottle of wine and says "come here boys" in a drunk voice, but doesn't wear anything revealing. There is a but if crude humor here too. You can burn a toy named "kitty kitty poo poo" that shoots out black pellets when it is burned. Thats pretty much all the mature content you will find here. Make sure your child knows the consequences of burning things in real life. (Side Note: One parent made a comment about burning children in a school bus. You can buy a small toy called "party bus" that has dolls in it. For comic effect, a sound of screaming children is triggered when the toy is burned. It's a little morbid, but nothing alive other than bugs are burned in this game)
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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