The Little Acre was developed by Pewter Games Studios and published by Curve Digital on December 16, 2016. It is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Steam and GOG. I played the Steam version for this review.
The Little Acre is a 2D point-and-click adventure game, set in rural Ireland at some point during the 1950s. Players take on the role of the of hardworking Aiden and his free-spirited, adventurous daughter Lily. They live together with Aiden’s father, a kind but quirky tinkerer, whose disappearance jump-starts the plot. I don’t want to say too much, as the discoveries along this adventure are by far the driving force for playing. That said, the voice acting is all top-notch, and will have you laughing and weeping in rapid succession as your heartstrings are tugged along throughout the story.
Control of the two protagonists alternates at different sections in the story, with Lily and Aiden handling fairly differently. This is a point-and-click game, with no real overhaul as to how you play that would separate this game from other titles in the genre. While the gameplay may remain the same regardless the character you control (click to pick up an object, click to move, click a couple of things at the right time to pull off a particular action, etc), the way they view practically everything is communicated in a very different fashion. When Lily observes the same hefty stone in the yard as Aiden, her thoughts are completely different, even down to the description shown when your cursor hovers over it. This lends a tremendous amount of believability to their differing goals, motivations and ideas about the world around them.
The artistic style of the game is beautiful, the detailed animation of the characters providing a smooth contrast to the hand-drawn landscapes that provide the background. The sky in particular has an almost watercolor quality, a detail I had seen before in animated children’s shows like Redwall but very scarcely, if ever, in a video game. The lush color palette is never lacking, setting a mood of happiness and tranquility one moment, terror and uncertainty the next. There’s a sudden tonal shift in the art direction that is truly mesmerizing and fully cements the design work present as first class.
The soundtrack always suits the scene, complimenting the art in directing the player’s emotions, whether at the mystery of an unraveling plot thread or simple happiness at watching Lily’s antics with her watchful guard dog Dougal. The score never shifts too suddenly, instead fading out quietly for subtle transitions, returning slowly and warmly. It’s not overbearing and it really works wonders for the various settings.
I do have a few small complaints though. There is a complete and utter lack of graphics options. The game simply adopts your monitor’s native resolution and framerate, forcing VSync to be active. It’s not the end of the world, as the simpler nature of the graphics means that even low-end PCs can run this game without many issues. Nonetheless it is definitely worth noting, as I can’t recall the last time a game was utterly devoid of any sort of video settings.
The other real issue is the length of the game. Different stories take differing amounts of time, which is fine, however I played at an extremely relaxed, observational pace and still completed it in under 2 hours. There’s actually an achievement if you beat it under an hour, which is more than possible without rushing. There is something to be said for maintaining the integrity of the story you wish to tell by not stretching it out too thin, however given the ingenuity shown through the plot and various sections of gameplay, it’s difficult for me to believe it truly had to be this short.
So ultimately, is it worth the $12 asking price? I would definitely have to say yes. The Little Acre is a heartwarming story with excellent voice acting, simple gameplay and a truly wonderful art style. All of these things come together to craft a wonderful experience that still warms my heart. A wonderful experience that is over far too soon.