Gaming very rarely provides moments of "authenticity" for me anymore, those simple, hard-to-find times where a switch gets flipped in my mind. I can count on one hand the number of iOS games that have managed to pull off this feat, surprising me with their cleverness, nostalgic value, or just pure, unadulterated joy.
At some point, about fifteen to twenty minutes in, Little Things Forever [$2.99] flipped a switch, and a light came on. This is a game that is as old as humanity itself - to find objects against a backdrop of other objects. No leaderboards, no achievements to unlock, no scoring. Just moments of panic and zen, as you race to outdo yourself. It is about as perfect and simple as a game gets, and it is very worth the price of admission.
The basic gameplay has three different "styles." At the beginning, you're given two different objects to work on, each of which, when zoomed in on, is made of tons of smaller objects. One game mode gives you a list of objects to find at your leisure, another gives you a timer. In the first, finding the objects you've been assigned completes the puzzle, and depending on how quickly you've managed, you can earn a "puzzle piece," which is like a currency that builds up to unlock new meta-objects to explore. The second mode will constantly provide you with a steady stream of new objects to find all the way up until the timer runs out. If you find enough, you'll unlock a puzzle piece as well.
The first mode feels dreamlike to play - there's a patience involved, as you zoom deeper and deeper, seeking out the shopping list of objects you've been given. It is eminently peaceful, and fantastic for lounging on the couch and taking a leisurely amount of time hunting and pecking. The second mode initiates a sort of blissful panic - I can think of only one other time in my life when the location of two swans has brought me so much trauma, but that's for another article.
The third mode happens when you've gained enough puzzle pieces to earn a new meta-object to play with. It's a simple grid of puzzle pieces which you have to rotate and match up to unlock the new piece. No timers, no scoring - just a simple match game to take a soft break from sleuthing.
Everything about the game is charming and playable - the objects are detailed, absolutely full of small-scale artwork to hunt through, and the colors are bold and vibrant. Subtlety in shading can make certain objects incredibly well hidden, even in plain view (I had particular difficulty finding a candlestick on the Owl puzzle, as the coloring made it disappear right in front of me).
In terms of replayability, the game really is essentially infinite - new lists of objects wait with every new round, and the developer has promised that new object puzzles will be delivered in future updates.
On every level, Little Things Forever hits all of the right notes: it is easy to pick up, fun to play alone or with a friend, simple yet challenging, and extremely replayable. Fan of the genre or skeptic, there are few games to be found on iOS that are as worth the price as this one.
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