Little Inferno was released November 18th 2012, by Tomorrow Corporation. Little Inferno is a simple indie puzzle game in which the player buys various things in a catalogue, burns them, and receives more money than they started with. The biggest ‘challenge’ in Little Inferno is the combos list. Combos can be obtained by burning a couple specific items at the same time with the only clue the player gets is the title of the combo. In the base game there are one hundred combos, ranging from obvious to ‘how was I supposed to know that’, like Bike Pirate (a wooden bicycle and a toy pirate) to Yellow Brick Road (a cat plushie, a scarecrow and a robot action figure.)
Little Inferno has a unique and well executed concept, but there are still comparisons you can draw to other games. For example: if you enjoy the cutesy art style of Pikuniku and its weirdly sinister undertones, then you would enjoy Little Inferno. Do you enjoy 60 Seconds for its dystopian world where the camera stays in one position for most of the game? You would like Little Inferno. Do you enjoy A Short Hike for the strange characters and even stranger dialogue? You will find a lot of that in this game. Little Inferno shares similarities to these games but they are not the same. Little Inferno is described to be a casual, indie, puzzle, satire and single player game, so if you enjoy those themes, I highly recommend giving it a try.
Tomorrow Corporation was founded in 2010. It started as, and still consists of, three guys: Kyle Gabler, Kyle Gray, and Allen Blomquist. In over 12 years, they have managed to solely develop three games: Little Inferno, Human Resource Machine, and 7 Billion Humans, but they have published two other games as well: World Of Goo (the release for Nintendo Switch in March 2017) and The Captain on the 4th of December 2021.
One of Tomorrow Corporation’s games, Human Resource Machine (HRM) takes a very different path then Little Inferno, HRM has a fixed camera position just like Little Inferno, HRM also has the same art style and dystopian undertones, but it still differs to Little Inferno by including levels instead of sitting in one place. The story being told through short cutscenes every five levels, and all of this on top of the gameplay. HRM can be described as a coding puzzle game where you code a worker to pick up number blocks from the input and place them in the output with the boss’s requirements getting harder as the levels go.
Little Inferno’s most unique aspect is the main mechanic of the game: burning. But the most interesting aspect to me is how Tomorrow Corporation tells the story. In Little Inferno the only way the player is offered story is that occasionally the player will get letters along with the items you plan to burn. The letters are free of charge and in the base game will come from three people: Ms Nancy, Sugar Plumps and The Weather Man.
In Little Inferno, the pre-story is that you have just purchased a ”Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace” made by Tomorrow Corp (The fictional company in game not the real one). the head of Tomorrow Corp is Miss Nancy who will mail you every so often to praise you for unlocking new catalogues, or talk to you about her life. In her most important letter, she gives you a “Free Hug From Miss Nancy” coupon which takes up a slot in your inventory, so the player is faced with a challenge on whether they should keep the coupon and give up a slot of inventory or to burn the coupon without a second thought.
In Little Inferno’s universe, we discover that Tomorrow Corp has a monopoly on the toy industry, having factories and posters all around the town, so it’s not a big surprise when we learn our next-door neighbour Sugar Plumps has a Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace as well. Sugar Plumps is a very odd character with her random capitalizations and drawn-out words that cause the player to either love her or despise her with nothing in between. Love or hate Sugar Plumps she is the most vital character to the story, but saying any more would have major spoilers, so you must play or watch gameplay of Little Inferno if you want to know why our cheery but ominous next-door neighbour is so important.
The last character in the base game that interacts with the player is The Weather Man who throughout the game updates the player about the constantly growing chill of the outside world and reminds everyone to stay warm. While The Weather Man isn’t the most important character to the plot, he is still able to create a sense of normalcy throughout the entire game by signing off in every single letter and each time in person saying, “Reporting from the Weather Balloon, over the smokestacks, over the city, The Weather Man”.
The Christmas DLC for Little Inferno entitled Ho Ho Holiday was released by Tomorrow Corporation on the 19th of November 2022 (The ten year anniversary of the first release of Little Inferno!) and is sold for $7.50 (AUD) on steam and other platforms. Ho Ho Holiday (HHH) adds a few things to Little Inferno including a new character, a new catalogue, subtle decoration changes in the fireplace (the main place of the game) and subtle dialogue changes as well, all to fit the festive theme of winter holiday.
The new catalogue, Naughty & Nice has the standard 20 items, all following a holiday/winter theme, but still sticking to Little Inferno’s style of “Mad scientist inventions being sold commercially.” For example “Reindeer Dust” which looks similarly packaged to a very illegal substance which explodes when burnt, coating the entire fireplace with dust, or maybe the “Bluetooth Enabled Smart Dreidel” that looks like a dreidel, but instead of it being wooden it has a white metal base with the Bluetooth logo engrained on the front which when burnt releases a laser while spinning that will cut any other items placed in the fireplace.
Playing Little Inferno with the DLC enabled will cause a fourth person to start mailing the player throughout the game, 8-bit Nate (Nate). The first time Nate messages the player turns out to be an accident. Nate’s angry fan mail about hating Christmas and Little Inferno somehow ends up not in Tomorrow Corp’s hands (In-game) but yours. Not much can be said about Nate’s letters without spoiling his character arc, but his story is quite similar to Ebenezer Scrooge even down to ending his letters with ‘Humbug.’ Will Nate be able to appreciate Christmas like Scrooge, or will he stay a grinch forever?
After this entire article, you may be wondering if Little Inferno and the Ho Ho Holiday DLC is worth the money, and the answer is — it truly depends on your preferences for games. If you like a point-and-click, fairly simple but story-driven game with a simple puzzle aspect for around $28 (including DLC) then you will like Little Inferno and the DLC. Little Inferno filled many people’s childhoods and in my very biased opinion (I grew up playing it) it still manages to hold up to this day with a plot that is one of a kind with weird but endearing characters, gameplay and art that makes Little Inferno feel like an April Fool’s joke that wasn’t ever meant to become a real game. With all that being said what you should do now is to bundle up in-front of a nice warm fire and enjoy the comfort of your Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace. (Now available for $27.99 AUD on Steam, Mobile, Switch, and others)