When I see the name Charles Cecil, only one franchise comes to mind — Broken Sword. As one of the co-founders of Revolution, the company behind these legendary point-and-click games, having Cecil’s name attached to any game immediately piques my interest. That’s where The Little Acre comes in. With Cecil as executive producer, my expectations were set high, and for the most part, they were met.
The Little Acre follows Aidan and his mischievous daughter Lily. When Aidan finds a clue to the whereabouts of his missing father Arthur, Aidan makes it his mission to find him, but in the process gets transported into a mysterious and magical world. His daughter Lily, ever the capricious kid, decides to go on her own adventure to find her father and grandfather and gets herself into trouble along the way.
The game looks and feels like a picturesque fairy tale. Each of the characters and backgrounds are hand drawn and full of charm, and the animations are smooth and seamless. It reminded me of the way the classic point-and-click games looked as well as seeming as though it had been pulled straight from a story book. I felt warm and cosy just exploring the environments and taking in the sights. The game’s music helps create a wonderful atmosphere, from the lush Irish countryside to the fantastical, yet frightening swamp. It’s a wonder to behold.
The two lead characters are extremely likeable and work together perfectly. Lily’s mischievous attitude and adorable outlook on life filled me with happiness, and her playful attitude makes following the story a joy, whereas Aidan’s slightly more methodical, yet cynical approach made me laugh at multiple opportunities. They help carry the simple story and give the game a lot of heart. A special mention goes to the voiceover work in the game, which is fantastic — each voice is unique and helps enhance each of the characters’ traits and tropes. With a cast as likeable as The Little Acre’s, it’s hard not to put the controller down.
The Little Acre plays just like any other point-and-click game. This particular port feels like an attempt to get the genre back onto home consoles, and while the controls are generally okay, there are times when I came unstuck. One particular puzzle involved me placing an item on an altar to activate the power in a room, then I had to quickly remove it, open my inventory, and place it on the next altar; something all too easy with a keyboard and mouse, but extremely fiddly with a controller. Fortunately, these moments are few and far between, and with a bit more practise, we might just see these games return to consoles.
As enjoyable an experience The Little Acre is, it’s one that’s over all too quickly. It took me under an hour and a half to finish the whole game and get over half the trophies. While I wasn’t unsatisfied with the story or with the game, I couldn’t help but feel like something had been missed. Had this game even been double this length, it would’ve given me more time to explore what The Little Acre had to offer, and allowed me to analyse and enjoy the relationship between Aidan and Lily for longer. The Little Acre has so much good stuff going for it, but it’s hampered by its premature ending.
Despite its short length, the game is packed full of puzzles. These vary from making breakfast in the morning, to using a cat to distract a worker and sneak into his laboratory, to powering generators with an electrified glove. While these are frequent in numbers, they lack in variety and in difficulty. Veterans of the genre will have no problem deciphering how to find the next clue, and even new players will easily be able to figure things out quickly. On the flip side, this makes The Little Acre a great entryway for newcomers to the genre, giving them a lush world to explore with lots of simple puzzles and charming characters.
For anyone after a great little throwback to the glory days of point-and-click games, The Little Acre might just be your thing. I enjoyed my time with the game but came out disappointed due to its short playtime. I would’ve been happier had this game been a little bit longer, but this doesn’t affect the quality of what’s already present. If anything, The Little Acre is a fantastic starting point for Pewter Games Studios. If this is what they can do with a 60-minute game, then I can’t wait to see what they can do with more.