STAFF REVIEW of The Little Acre (Xbox One)

Friday, December 23, 2016.
by Jennifer Dingle

The Little Acre Box art I love a good point and click adventure. I spent my teenage years playing numerous Sierra adventure games in my day, engrossed in titles such as The Quest for Glory and Gabriel Knight. I remember how exploring every corner and scrolling my mouse over every square inch of the screen with hopes of finding a clue brought me great joy! Unfortunately, it’s not a very popular genre in modern gaming, although with the remake of King’s Quest, and games such as The Walking Dead, there’s been a slight resurgence of such adventure games on the indie scene. Dublin-based Indie Developer Pewter Games has lovingly crafted their own entry into the genre called The Little Acre. With hand-drawn and fully voice acted gameplay, The Little Acre is reminiscent of the old school point and click games we’ve become so fond of. Recently making its debut on PC and consoles, it also marks the very first game Xbox One game to come out of Ireland!

The Little Acre follows the adventures of widower Aidan, and his young daughter Lily, during a 1950’s rural Ireland. Somewhat down on his luck, he shares a quaint cottage with his father, an eccentric inventor named Arthur, who suddenly disappears without a trace. Aidan sets off to find him, and inadvertently finds himself transported to the weird and wonderful world of Clonfina during his search, unaware that Lily has followed close behind. As the story progresses, you switch back and forth between the two characters as they journey through the strange land, encountering an odd cast of characters in their desperate search for Arthur.

From the cluttered cottage, Arthur’s ramshackle workshop to the nooks and caves of Clonfina, all these settings make for some fantastic point and click gameplay and exploration. When you first meet Aidan, you are tasked with helping him get dressed without waking Lily from her slumber, and this paves the way the for the type of puzzles you will face throughout your gameplay time. Solving these puzzles were never very difficult, and while there is a hint system in place, you are more than likely able to make it through the game without using it. I think it’s a bit disappointing. It may be because I’ve played my fair share of games in the genre, but easily figuring out what to do somewhat takes away from the experience. Despite the difficulty level, the point and click adventure is still quite enjoyable. Fans of such adventure games will surely enjoy The Little Acre. There was no shortage of places to explore as the cottage, workshop and Clonfina are filled with doors and drawers to open and numerous items to interact with.

There is no doubt that the visuals are the highlight of The Little Acre. The environments are just spectacular! The countryside cottage, the rural Irish landscape, and the mysterious land of Clonfira are filled with vibrant colours and beautifully hand drawn environments. The characters themselves, from Aidan and Lily to the outlandish and cartoonish monsters, seem almost as if they have been plucked directly from a Disney movie. The charming Irish soundtrack perfectly accompanies the gorgeous visuals. The Little Acre is fully voice acted, and is quite well done, especially the voice for young Lily.

Unfortunately, the story leaves much to be desired. The game was short, taking just under 3 hours to complete. That’s not always a bad thing if the story is done right, or if it was the first game in an episodic series, like King’s Quest or The Walking Dead, but that isn’t the case here. Just when I really started getting into it, it was over. The pacing of the game was completely off. It started off great, weaving a heartwarming tale that had the potential to be a fantastic narrative. But then it just fell flat, ending quite abruptly, as if it was hastily finished. I had just started to get to know Lily and her rambunctious ways. I wanted to know more about her and Aidan. What exactly happened to Arthur while he was in Clonfina? And what about Bugsy, Lily’s caterpillar friend? I couldn’t believe it when the credits started to roll. The Little Acre was just too short. There is a wonderful story to be told, and I wish the same detail that was put into the visuals was put into the narrative as well.

If I could base this review on the visuals alone, I would give The Little Acre a very high score. The hand drawn images are simply breathtaking, and Pewter Games should be commended for painstakingly bringing Lily, Aidan and the creatures of Clonfina to life. The gameplay, while not extremely difficult, was still quite enjoyable and exploring every nook and cranny is something that any adventure gamer will surely enjoy! Unfortunately, the narrative, something that is important in a point and click game, was filled plot holes and was extremely rushed in the second half of the game. It’s shame, because the story of Lily and Aidan deserves to be told, and I can only hope that The Little Acre 2 will soon be in development. If you can overlook this fact, and the extremely short length of the game, I can definitely recommend playing The Little Acre, especially if you are a fan of the old-school point and click adventure games as it’s another welcome addition to the ID@Xbox program,

Overall: 7.3 / 10
Gameplay: 5.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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