The Little Acre
The Little Acre is a point-and-click adventure from Pewter Games Studios. It revolves around a small family including Aidan (the father), Lily (the daughter), Arthur (the grandfather), and Dougal (the dog). You mostly play as Aidan in the game, and early one morning you wake up to find Arthur missing. Arthur is an inventor, and one of his inventions is an “adventure machine,” which sends people to the magical land of Clonfira. You take the trip while looking for Arthur, and then when Lily wakes up and finds everybody gone, she uses the machine as well. Dougal smartly stays home.
Like a lot of adventures, The Little Acre presents the world as a series of scenes. In each scene there are some hotspots for you to click on, and there are also some exits to other scenes. All of the characters and scenes are hand-drawn, which gives the game a charming, cartoony look. The characters are also voice-acted, and despite Pewter using their own employees as the actors, the quality is surprisingly good.
The interface for The Little Acre is easy to use. You left click where you want your character to move, and you left click on hotspots to interact with them. There is also a button for your inventory, which shows the items you’ve picked up. To use an item, you just click on it in your inventory and then click on the hotspot where you want it to go. If you’ve played a graphical adventure ever in your life, then this should sound pretty familiar. The Little Acre doesn’t break any molds, but then it doesn’t need to.
Most of the puzzles in The Little Acre are inventory-based, where you pick up items and then figure out where to use them. Curiously, all of the hotspots in the scenes are always labeled (and there isn’t any way to turn this feature off), so nothing is hidden, and no pixel hunting is required. Perhaps because of this, some of the puzzles are goofy, even under adventure game logic. For example, at one point you have to combine a pitchfork and a tree stump to create a hammer. Er, yeah.
The main problem with The Little Acre is that it’s too short. I finished it in well under three hours, and I only struggled in a couple of places. A short game isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but in The Little Acre you’re supposed to care about the characters — only you’re whisked through events so quickly that you don’t learn much about them. I was halfway through the game before I even learned Aidan’s name. As a result, I never became emotionally connected to any of the characters, and so potentially moving scenes weren’t, and I only shrugged when I came to the end. I’m guessing I would have liked the game better if it had been named The Medium-Sized Acre.
From what I’ve seen, The Little Acre hasn’t been advertised in any particular way, but it seems clear that it is intended for a younger audience, or for parents to play with their children. That’s probably why it looks like a cartoon, why the hotspots are always visible, and why it comes with a hint system that includes hints and answers for every puzzle in the game. I’m about as far removed from that target demographic as possible, and so while I wasn’t enthralled by The Little Acre, it’s possible that children will enjoy it more (especially little girls, since they might identify with Lily).
As I was playing The Little Acre, I kept thinking that I should be liking it more than I was. It seems like it’s well-intentioned, but I found it more dull than charming, and more by-the-numbers than thought-provoking. Really, it’s like a shorter, less polished version of Anna’s Quest, and I didn’t even like Anna’s Quest that much. But on the brighter side, The Little Acre is cheap, and it might work well with children, and so for some people it might be worthwhile.
Reviewed By: Steven Carter
Publisher: Curve Digital
This review is based on a digital copy of The Little Acre for the PC provided by Curve Digital.