The Little Acre, from developer Pewter Games, presents emotional narrative elements that serve to draw the player into the point-and-click adventure’s beautiful settings. The parallel adventures of Aiden and his daughter Lily convey themes of the importance of loved ones as they set out to reunite their own fractured family. Unfortunately, The Little Acre appears to construct this heart-warming narrative at a cost to the gameplay, which often consists of puzzles that pose little challenge and thus pass on little sense of accomplishment to the player.
If ever a game earned the right to call itself charming, The Little Acre earns that title. So many aspects of the game come together to create an experience that perfectly captures and expresses the so-far quiet lives of Aiden and Lily. The title’s beautiful environments, inspired by Don Bluth animation and Miyazaki worlds, capture the pastoral essence of 1950s Ireland with rolling hills complete with grazing sheep and small animated touches that give life to the world. The title’s soundtrack and even the voice acting support this quaint feeling that the game presents. In the mysterious alternate world that Aiden stumbles upon, mysterious and imaginative creatures help further emphasize the difference between these two worlds.
I admit that I held some skepticism when beginning the game about how well point-and-click mechanics would be mapped on the PS4 controller. I found the controls to be manageable for the most part. Most objects in the environments have different buttons assigned to them which, when pressed, will cause either Aiden or Lily to interact with the object. This means that not once did I accidentally interact with an object other than the object I intended to, thus saving myself from listening to the same line of dialogue repeated a painful amount of times.
Where The Little Acre falls short is with the title’s puzzles, which never posed much of a challenge. As a result, I never enjoyed a that moment of mind-blowing accomplishment when all of the pieces come together. Instead, the puzzles seem to take a back seat to the game’s narrative. Most of the time, I felt like I was simply going through the point-and-click motions. Aiden and Lily’s inventory rarely held more than three or four items to manage, and each environment is self contained. Without deep item management and any backtracking, the puzzles were often simple and obvious.
The Little Acre truly presents a fantastic narrative. Unfortunately, it’s at the cost of puzzles that challenge and reward the player. So, if you are in the market for a great story to breeze through one lazy afternoon, check out The Little Acre when the game releases December 13.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.