Game Review – Little (Zack Banack)
December 11, 2009
Just a beginning note – I’ve known about Zack Banack (known on most sites as Zack064 or just Zack) for a while now and have recently felt him to be fairly underrated. He shares his general style with indie creators like Jonatan SÃ¶derstrÃ¶m and Andrew Brophy, yet his creations aren’t even comparably covered. Little represents a deviation in Banack’s usual style – a move away from obscure, often surface-powered graphical malarkey into artsy platform exploration, Seiklus-style. And while Little can’t match Seiklus (what can?) it still stands out as a fun, simplistic game, if short (actually, the shortness works to its advantage – there’s enough to keep you happy but not enough to outstay its welcome).
In Little, you control a boy that chases a runaway ball into a weird portal that shrinks you to near-ant height. You have to take a journey through a series of different landscapes to reach a hospital and return to your original height.
For such a short game it’s surprising how many different scenes there are, and how fluently they fit together – a garden, an ant nest, a play room, an urban landscape – all connected near-seamlessly. The gameplay is incredibly simple – walk through these landscapes, occasionally needing to scavenge items to unblock routes or open up secondary ones. Picked-up items appear above your head until you need them, and are automatically used. I feel the game would be suitable to youngsters – it’s relentlessly simple and visually appealing.
Levels in the game are colourful. The grassy areas are a not-too-bright green with blue skies and brown trees, the rural area is filled with scenery, and the house imparticular is very colourful – all the toys scattered around make for an aesthetic beauty. The sprites themselves aren’t perfectly drawn, but every single one fits into the game just fine, which make the cartoony places great to wander through.
The background music also fits with the game – playful, but at the same time fairly relaxing. It helps to give the game a great, serene atmosphere. It can’t be turned off, but it’s not too much of a worry – the game only takes about quarter of an hour to complete so you can return to your own music after playing it. Sound effects are minimal, and not greatly fitting, but they’re quiet, which reduces any negative impact to pretty much nil.
I enjoyed this game rather a lot – it was peaceful to play and, though not fast-paced or immediate fun, the lack of any real danger mixed with the variety of scenes resulted in an experience as satisfying as anything else. I don’t expect Little to be everybody’s “thing”, it’s certainly an audience divider (I’d call it “Marmite” but sadly non-UK residents are unlikely to understand). But for me, and I’m sure for some of you, it’ll be a great way to spend quarter of an hour.