There's nothing better than a big, crackling fire, for ambiance, for warmth, for burning all your belongings. In the world of Little Inferno [$4.99], the best thing in life is getting a new toy or gizmo in the mail, tossing it in your Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace, and setting it on fire. In fact, there may be nothing else. Nothing else at all.

This might seem like an exercise in futility—burning up every bit of progress you make—but it isn't. Not quite. There's something Tomorrow Corporation is trying to tell you in this game, something that isn't entirely comfortable to reflect upon. It's a message that can't be discussed without spoilers, so suffice it to say that it will resonate with mobile gamers—probably much more than any other audience. Just one of a few reasons Little Inferno feels right cozy on iPad.

The device also makes a pretty good window right into your Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace. Dragging things into the fireplace feels natural; setting them on fire even more so. You can hold a fingertip near something that burns and watch as the heat from your flame lights it up. Or you can sweep your finger around haphazardly, lighting everything in bright flame. All Little Inferno is missing is some heat and the smell of burning fur and plastic.

It's a very good thing that Tomorrow Corporation has crafted an outstanding incineration simulation, because there isn't a whole heck of a lot more to do in the game. Here's how it breaks down: you have a few coins. You spend them on some flimsy, flammable toys. Then you burn those toys, and they give you more coins. I'm not oversimplifying, that's simply the process. It seems like it's begging for microtransactions, doesn't it? There aren't any. That's part of the point.

You can't run out of coins, and will steadily get more and more. They'll pile up and up until you buy all the things you can buy, and then you'll be able to pay to unlock a new catalog of gadgets and grotesquities. It's fun to burn everything at least once and see how it all goes up. Something might explode, light up in colored flame, or spit out flies that burn and die in turn. The special effects get more and more interesting as you work through the catalogs, earning more and more the more you spend.

The self-perpetuating cycle is an idiosyncrasy, so much so that one of the game's other character's notes it in one of her letters. You're alone in Little Inferno—it's just you and your fireplace. But there are others out there, in the city and above it, and one of them is Sugar Plumps. Her notes are barely literate but incredibly enthusiastic, and she serves as your guide through the game's oddities. She, the Weather Man, and Miss Nancy, owner of the in-game Tomorrow Corporation, walk you through the increasingly dissonant and dystopian world just outside your door—wherever that may be. Not in view of your fireplace, that's for sure.

Sharp-eyed readers are surely about to declare this a right proper non-game, but that's not quite right. There's something of a meta-game to be played in a list of hidden combos solved with word association. For instance, to get the first combo, "Bike Pirate," you burn, err, a bike and a pirate together. Not the cleverest, but it gets you started on a path to 99 complete combos that get more and more puzzling as you go. Completing combos earns you stamps, which speed up delivery times for your packages—and yes, I'm still certain there are no microtransactions to be found.

You may get the sense that Little Inferno walks a fine line between satirizing our gaming habits and revelling in them. If you take it lightly, it works. Give it serious thought and you might find a bit of hypocrisy buried between the lines, but that doesn't change the fact that this is a game that sticks with you. I've spent hundreds of hours gaming in front of my iPad, but the three I spent with Little Inferno have been some of the most thought-provoking. Tomorrow Corporation asks the big questions about games, life and flammability. It also lets you burn things. All the things. Frankly, that's good too.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Chrimlee

    Its sooooo awesome ! Love it!

  • blackbear219

    Fire, fire, fire!

    This is such a great game. I bought it when it came out last week. it should be mentioned that it is by the World of Goo guys, and carries that style to a degree.

    I'll admit, the first time through the underlying message kind of went over my head. I'm excited to play it again and focus more on that aspect. Some of the combos are really easy and some are very hard to figure out. I still don't get why the "LOL Kitty" combo is made up of the items that it is.

    Anyway, awesome game. I highly recommend it!

    • Jarrod

      I think it's a reference to LOLcats [pictures of cats].

      • blackbear219

        lol, ok, that makes more sense.

    • https://twitter.com/#!/NissaCam Nissa Campbell

      One of the guys from 2D Boy, the studio who made World of Goo, is part of Tomorrow Corporation - Kyle Gabler. So it's not quite by the same team, but it carries a VERY similar tone. Dark humor in a dystopic world, yum.

  • Scape3d

    I want this on iPhone. iPad-only means I can't play it.

    • nicodemus82

      It plays fine on an iPhone. All you need to do is purchase it through iTunes on your PC then locate the IPA file and edit the info.plist inside it. :)

      • lr1919

        Really??? Can you give any more details or a link to a tutorial? Thanks.

      • The Mad Mule

        Well if you do manage to get it to work, have fun playing on that tiny screen. The iPad really is the only way to play this game.

      • http://twitter.com/VULTR3 Mike

        You so bossy.

      • classicrockme

        Huh?

      • nicodemus82

        Just change the IPA file to .zip then locate the info.plist. Look for the line that says UIDeviceFamily2
        And change the 2 to a 1 and save. Then change the zip file back into an IPA and sync to your iPhone :)

      • lr1919

        Cool, thanks. I'll give it a try.

      • csparker@hotmail.com

        Does this work for any other iPad-only games? I'm thinking specifically of Gasketball.

  • Jarrod

    This was really my favorite game on Wii U so far. It's kind of bizarre, and it is addictive in the same way that pay for play games are.

    I might get it for iPad too just to see how it plays on that device.

    I will anticipate future games from Tomorrow Corporation with great interest.

  • Greyskull

    It feels like a metaphor for my life. yeah, TMI.

  • nini

    Remember, don't burn the coupon.

  • MidianGTX

    I'm glad I bought this, but "burning up the hours" is right. Five hours to be exact, and now I'm not sure I'll ever play it again. It was definitely fun while it lasted, but the games that hold the most special places in my heart are the ones I look forward to going back to. Still worth the asking price nonetheless.

  • HelperMonkey

    A tangent, but a true story:
    A friend of mine was starting a fire in his fireplace with a butane torch when the butane canister's seal sprang a leak, spewing fire and threatening to explode. In a panic, he quickly threw the potential bomb into the fireplace, closed it in, and called 911. They asked what his emergency was.
    He blurted out, "There's a fire in my fireplace!"
    "Oh.. Good one," they said, sarcastically. And they hung up on him.

  • jacqth

    $4.99 is too high. I'll wait until it comes down to $1.99

    • Gabriel.Voyager

      You can buy it with the money that come out from the credit card when you burn it ;)

  • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

    Lots of positive commentary -- I was thinking someone might challenge the 5 star rating, particularly b/c of the comment in the review, "Sharp-eyed readers are surely about to declare this a right proper non-game, but that's not quite right. There's something of a meta-game to be played..."

    I guess I'm surprised that what many might call a 'non-game' could get a 5 star review, while many definite 'games' which often are excellent seem to get lower ratings.
    I guess I wonder at what the 5 star rating represents? Is it simply an indicator that the company has paid for an ad endorsement? Maybe TA should have a separate rating system specifying "this is a neat app but it's not a game"?

  • mr ed209

    I was told not to read anything about the game, just buy it. Wish I had read this review first, because the review is 100% accurate (except the score, but scores are subjective and i am learning to ignore TA's scores which are often far too high, seemingly for fear of upsetting small developers).

    There really is very little gameplay. Do not buy expecting a game. The combo stuff is so boring, it was done to death on Pixel People (snore) and Pocket God (zzzzz).

    This app is really a satirical statement on IAPs. There's a dark story to be told about why you're burning stuff, but you'll work out where that's headed within the first few minutes, especially if you've played Braid or Limbo before.

    Not a game, but a very nicely presented curio that mocks IAPs. Definitely not worth five stars for me, because I wanted to play an Actual Game. Oh well.

    • Bool Zero

      Ditto. Was not impressed with this despite it being my type of thing normally. All felt very familiar, unfulfilled and straightforward. 5 hours and 9 minutes, no help, fully completed, with one achievement missing and I deleted with no plans to replay this. Not much of a interesting story (or rather one that I cared to entertain anyway) and not much of gameplay in this to consider this a revisited experience. 3.5 stars from me.

      • Greyskull

        To each his own. I would give this 6 stars if I could. And if you and the reviewer believe that the underlying statement this game makes is in regards to iaps (it does, but that's a superficial layer), then WOOSH, over your heads. Try it's a lot deeper than that.

  • partyarno

    I loved it!

  • Andrew1234_

    This is a beautifully written review. The game definitely hits a lot of emotions and it will stick with you. Don't miss this game.

  • changery

    Wow! I just finished this in 2ish sittings. I cannot recommend this enough. One of the best iOS games I have played. Period. Right up there with S&S or any of the Simogo games. Absolutely brilliant!

  • rainbowllama

    Completed it like 2 days ago cried, I love this game the best ios game I have ever played in my life (so far)

Little Inferno HD Reviewed by Nissa Campbell on . Rating: 5