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The Little Acre

The Little Acre

 

Developer: Pewter Games Studios The title screen.The title screen.
Released: 2016.12.13
Genre: Fantasy / SciFi
Graphics: Cartoon / 2D
Perspective: Third person
Gameplay: Point-and-Click



 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

The Little Acre is a hand-drawn fantasy game which takes place in Ireland, at least the starting point is located there. The story that we get to experience in the game has a bit unusual protagonists, which is always fitting for the adventure genre of course. Basically the story is about a family that consists of a single dad, Aidan, his daughter Lily, and Aidan's father and Lily's grandfather Arthur who has gone missing. Plus, there is Dougal the dog.

The plot is basically built around Aidan going to look for his father, and then Lily going to look for her father, Aidan. At the centre of everything is (grand)father's weird invention that seems to be the cause of these disappearings. As can be expected from a fantasy game, soon after things get very strange.

The protagonists.The protagonists.
Visually the game is very beautiful and extremely well animated. At times, it seems more like a cartoon film than an adventure game. Dougal the dog is especially well done, responding and reacting to things that Lily does with funny animations, so much so that the dog is almost the star of the game! There are very few adventure games where animations have such attention to detail and which seem so professionally done. That is definitely the best part of the game, and to certain extent the game could also work as an animation without any interactive components.

Having said that, there's somewhat disappointingly little to interact with. It has been suggested that the target audience for the game may be younger and/or inexperienced players, or that the goal is not to create the best point-and-click ever, but to create an interactive film. At any rate, the game almost plays itself sometimes. All hotspots are visible as hotspots, with no option to hide them. The game automatically switches between Aidan and Lily based on the plot development, with no user choice possible. All puzzles are limited to maximum of three explorable rooms, in other words, one doesn't need (and doesn't even can) to search more than three rooms to solve a puzzle at hand. After solving it, the game automatically progresses further, sometimes being so strict about it that it's not even possible to walk backwards! There are no inventory puzzles, so combining objects randomly is not possible either.

Dougal the dog stealing the scene.Dougal the dog stealing the scene.
The difficulty level being beginner-like, which is further eased by a hint button that can be used as a complete walkthrough, means that the player doesn't spend too much time in any one area. In addition to this, the game is very short. The first few scenes take a little while to establish the characters, but after that, it's a motorway to the finish line. Gameplay-wise this means that sometimes the game switches back and forth between the protagonists so much and so fast that it's annoying. Story-wise this means that there's no real development, even if there basically are dramatic plot developments, side characters, and an antagonist, but everything is passed by so fast that even after finishing the game there are more questions than answers. The conclusion is therefore in that sense unsatisfying, as there are so many "why's" that never get any kind of answer. Renaming the game from "The Little Acre" to "The Little Adventure" wouldn't be unjustified.

There are also some other things which don't quite impress. One of them is Aidan's voiceovers, which sound more like a teenager than a single parent. This makes immersion difficult at times. Another point of complaint is that the save/load function has only one slot. To complete the game, that's probably all that is needed, as the game is short, but it would be nice to be able to come back to a certain moment in gameplay. No game is perfect though, and it's easy to forgive some lacking areas, as there are so many things which are actually well done.

Intentional or not, sometimes there's the vibe of Broken Sword present.Intentional or not, sometimes there's the vibe of Broken Sword present.
One thing to note about this game is that it has been produced by Charles Cecil, best known as the man behind the legendary Broken Sword series. How much that has affected the game content can be speculated, however some parts of the game actually do have "broken-swordy" feeling to them.

Overall the game is good, but due to its short length and underused plot development, it feels more like a demo of a bigger-scale game than a game that is complete. It's a question of potential, the game has potential to be so much more than what it actually ends up being. A sequel would be nice, especially if it has Dougal the dog, the real star in it, hopefully in a bigger role next time.

The door is locked.The door is locked.

 


 

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