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The Little Acre Review (PS4)

The Little Acre
brings a beautiful fairytale to the PS4.

The Little Acre is a whimsical fairytale loaded with personality. Despite its short length and missteps, I found myself smiling at nearly every turn by the unique world Pewter Games created. Players looking for a nostalgic romp through the cartoon worlds of their 80’s and 90’s childhood will recognize many of the visual nods to animated adventures they grew up with. It only scratches the surface of its potential as an adventure game but if you’re looking for a good introduction for the younger gamer in your life, this might be the one to start with.

Set in 1950’s Ireland, The Little Acre opens with Aiden waking up in bed. His daughter Lily snores in the corner while their dog Dougal sleeps on the floor like the giant grey ball of fur he is. As a player your first task is to help Aiden get dressed and get out of bed without waking Lily. On console, you interact with the world by moving the left directional stick around to seek out objects and hit the “X” button to pick up or interact with objects and the environment.

Out of bed and downstairs you are able to let Aiden explore and interact with the world. Pewter solved the issue of not having a keyboard and mouse on consoles by having button prompts show up on screen when a character was close with an object that could be interacted with. This made it clear what object you wanted to grab or inspect and eliminated much of the guess work involved in pointing and clicking on consoles. However, some puzzles require quick reactions and grabbing an object, which can be finicky with cursor movement speed and landing on the soft spot where an object can actually be grabbed.

Because of the length, it’s hard to dive into The Little Acre’s story without spoiling a lot. But early into the game we find out that Aiden is down on his luck. Years ago his wife (and Lily’s mother) died, he came back from war and couldn’t find a job, and his eccentric inventor father mysteriously disappeared. During a routine morning of chores Aiden finds himself transported to another world called Clonfira filled with strange creatures and traces of his father’s presence.

Ten minutes into the game I was switching back and forth between controlling Aiden and Lily. Their dialog feels genuine with moments of wonder, fascination, heartbreak, and joy. The game manages to stuff a lot of emotions into its small package, making you connect with this family. I laughed at Lily’s childish stance on the world around her as she climbed a cupboard to make food, with Dougal comically chasing her around trying to protect her from harm.

Those who remember early Disney films or the works of animators like Don Bluth will find a lot of similarity with the game visuals. Pewter’s work into turning The Little Acre into a living, breathing animated adventure fit for the big screen should be commended. Character animations further helped me connect to them, ensuring I laughed at jokes and physical comedy bits while getting a bit misty-eyed at touching moments.

As expertly crafted as the entire presentation is, I found myself disappointed by the length. Most players should finish the game in a couple hours without breaking a sweat. Part of this comes from the fact that puzzles are quite easy. There were only a few times where I wasn’t entirely sure how to progress towards a solution but after taking a step back, the result came to me. I’m glad the game never litters your inventory with items but again, part of this is because most puzzles are overly simple. Though I don’t want the length to be padded with unfair or tedious moments, more puzzles would have expanded upon the game’s world and lore. The overall story is satisfying in its larger beats but I do feel like some scenes were missing or ultimately cut.

The main villain is given very little screen time and his motivation isn’t given fair representation to make his actions too meaningful. It also speaks to the quality of Clonfira that I wanted to spend more time there and discover more things about it. Lily treads a different path through it than Aiden but there is little backstory in the game to give it the substance I wanted from it. When looking at The Little Acre in a grander sense, the game almost feels like the introductory chapter to a much larger story. Maybe a future entry could show us the journey of Aiden’s father or take us through other people’s travels into Clonfira.

Ultimately, it was very difficult for me not to fall in love with nearly everything about The Little Acre. Pewter Games Studio crafted a bite-sized point-and-click adventure game that hits a lot of nostalgia high points. A jaded gamer like me found a lot to be charmed by while still recognizing its shortcomings. In fact, much of your enjoyment of the game may rely on how you emotionally connect to its characters. This whimsical fairy tale is loaded with personality and a unique world that resonated with me as a gamer and a fan of entertainment. As a game that is under $20 I still wanted more length and more challenge but that was only because I feel as if the developer has more to offer players. For those who spend an afternoon or night diving into the wonders of The Little Acre you may find it hard to leave.

Score: 8 out of 10
Reviewed for PS4

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