A job-hunting day for Aidan turns into a dimension-hopping adventure when he finds clues to his missing father’s whereabouts. But when his daughter follows him into danger, they’ll have to work together to find their way back home to The Little Acre.
Genre(s): Adventure | Point & Click
Developer: Pewter Games Studios
Publisher: Curve Digital
Release Date: Dec 2016
Played: Full game.
Purchase At: Steam
Source: Review Copy provided by Publisher
The Little Acre opens with a cutscene where you see Aidan’s father with a companion in a strange land, where they look like miniature or “chibi” versions of themselves. The companion then crosses a gateway into our world, where she regains her normal proportions before blacking out.
By the end of the short intro I was wondering who these characters were. Aidan’s father’s identity became clear early into The Little Acre, so don’t worry, it’s not a spoiler, but the other eluded me. I thought I would get to control these two but instead the game shifted to Aidan’s point of view and the first series of puzzles, where he has to recover his clothes from around the room without waking Lily up. He desperately wants to avoid being the one responsible for that, preferring to shift the blame on the loyal house dog, Dougal.
Aidan has just a single goal for his day, find a job, but a parcel in the mail leads him to clues about his missing father’s whereabouts, so he decides to stay home and follow the trail, with it eventually leading him to the same strange world we last saw his father in.
The Little Acre switches point of view between Aidan and Lily constantly, in small story segments, giving you both sides of the story but never letting one get too far away from the other. For example, when you cross over with Aidan, you control Lily and when she follows her father, you play as him again.
With the very different tones of each character’s segments, it worried me the chapters wouldn’t mesh very well, but to be honest they work. Lily’s more light-hearted moments act as a good balance to Aidan’s more serious story, though that isn’t to say there aren’t heavy moments with the little girl.
I absolutely adore Lily as a character. She’s perhaps the most adorable adventure game character I’ve seen in a long time, if not ever. She rambunctious, clever and knows how to get what she wants. She’s a little adventurer, equipped with the wooden sword her father gave her and little fairy wings, because girls can be cute and badass at the same time.
Her scenes with Dougal and then Bugsy, the giant friendly caterpillar, are fantastic, with enough magical and whimsical humour to keep you going “Awww” between bouts of giggles. It did with me.
And again, her tonal differences work great in the narrative, as they make the sad scenes more emotionally intense.
The plot of The Last Acre is good if pretty straightforward, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was a small part of a much bigger plot. It felt as if this was the prologue to bigger adventure. This story deals with Aidan and Lily’s family and the dangers in this parallel chibi world, but there are mentions of humans, businessmen, seeking to abuse the power of the crystals that allow you to cross over between realities, and it’s almost as if this were the introductory game of a much larger saga.
If that is the case, I want to know what happens next. The Little Acre managed to do something most games this year couldn’t do: it made me care for these characters. I wanted to protect Lily as much as her antics and companions made me laugh. I wanted to help Aidan find and protect her. And I want to know what else happens from now on. Also, while the game is pretty good, it’s also quite short. I finished it in about three to four hours.
Puzzles in The Little Acre are of the inventory variety for the most part, though in the other world there are some logic puzzle moments. I liked them a lot, even if most were fairly easy for me to figure out. Still, the nice wrapping of charm and humour helps even the simplest of puzzles feel rewarding and just fun. The design for the puzzles is solid enough on its own, though if there’s ever a sequel, I would love for much more difficult riddles and challenges.
For the puzzles I had trouble with, the reason wasn’t the riddle’s difficulty, but something very strange in the solution triggers, where using the correct item with a hotspot doesn’t work unless the character stands at the precise spot or at a given distance. If it were a recurring thing I’d have chalked it up to design, but it’s a bit random, which made it frustrating.
I love the hand-drawn visual style, and the family home is lovely, something that could have been a farm if the effort had been made, but instead has a ton of broken things and improvised contraptions created by Aidan’s father. The different rooms and even the other world tell as much of the story as the conversations do, and that is superb.
Voice acting is pretty good. I absolutely adore Lily’s voice actress. I could feel her strength and thirst for adventure in every line. And Aidan’s voice actor is one of the few whose panicked tone I find convincing.
The Little Acre is the last game I’m reviewing this year and I’m happy to go out on a very good note. I especially hope this is just the first entry into a new series. The characters and world(s) deserve further exploration. Also, can’t get enough of Lily!
4.5/5 – Amazing!