I play many games online. Some are trite, some are engaging. This one made me reflect upon my life.
If you play games and would like to experience this yourself, please stop reading now and go to the website and rock through the few hours yourself. You'll thank me for it.
If you're reading but planning on playing, I'll try not to spoil anything, but have to convey my reaction, so no promises.
Little Inferno is basically you burning stuff. It's you buying things from catalogs and burning them. All of them. Everything.
It's billed in-game as an entertainment center. Here's a promo video you see a little ways in:
Did I mention it's crazy?
So you're burning things, all the things, and communicate via letter with a mystery friend while working through your catalogs and figuring out burning combos that get you stamps that can make catalog items show up more quickly. At heart, a beautiful puzzle game that will obsess you, take control of you, and drive you to the end - which is only a few hours.
But in this process of you burning things, you hear from you mysterious friend, you get weather updates, and promotional mail items from the creator of your Little Inferno. And then, while burning everything in sight, things get complicated, even sad, but you keep burning and buying, burning and buying.
And then I get all introspective about it.
This game isn't nuts at all. It's fun, but it's a commentary on commercialism and how playing games eats your time. You're buying and buying and burning and burning. You buy a doll and burn it and get more money back than you paid for it. Your purchasing power is increased by waste, by destroying what you just purchased. And then you purchase more.
And what the fuck are you doing? You're buying items, waiting for them to show up, and putting them in the fire. Because all you can do is burn. You burn or stop the game. And by burning you feed into the game's narrative of accepting your need to burn because that's what Little Inferno expects from you, but you learn that burning will bring some minor interaction as well.
You have a few little interactions, and they become so deep in their brevity that you might laugh them off, dismiss them, but at one point you will be struck, and I'll just say I was fighting tears about a piece of mail that I had no choice but to toss into the fireplace.
And then the end. Like I said, I won't spoil it, but it speaks in a very meta way to you disengaging from what you're doing and rethinking what the hell you just spent the last few hours doing.
I will play it again. I will enjoy it - and almost-weep - again. And I'll think again what the hell I was doing playing it in the first place.