Little Misfortune is the second game from Swedish developers,
Killmonday Games, and comes after their hugely popular and successful
first game, Fran Bow, which I have not completed. But don't worry,
because even though these games do take place within the same universe,
they are separate games. However, if you have played Fran Bow, you might
get a little extra kick out of it.
Where to begin with this game, then? I have mixed feelings about it
to be honest. In fact, I don't really know how to feel about it. It is
definitely a good game, and if you like weird and strange games that
mess with your mind and emotions, then you're definitely going to like
it. And I DO like it. I want to be clear about that.
So, we control Misfortune Ramirez Hernandez, an 8 year old girl,
living in her little town, with her parents, her toys, and her glitter.
One day, as she sits glittering things up, she starts to hear a voice
inside her head. Mr. Voice, as she aptly names the owner, asks her if
she wants to play a game. At the end of this game, is a prize. Eternal
Happiness. Something which is sorely needed in the life of Misfortune.
Not just for her, but for her mommy as well. And maybe her dad too,
although maybe not. That is a complex situation, which you'll learn more
about. Just be careful - if you have any experience of an unhappy
childhood, then you might be overcome with a strong sense of
familiarity, and it might not be easy for you. Anyway...
Misfortune of course accepts the challenge of the game, and so off we
go out into the wilderness of the town surrounding our home, on a
peculiar little adventure, looking for a fox, whom we've named Benjamin.
Who is Benjamin? We don't know. He's a fox. We like him. He's pretty.
And dashing. And… our friend? Not sure. Our mind is messed with. Gotta
keep your wits about you. Gotta be aware.
As we go, we run into all kinds of different things and situations.
We meet other animals. Some seem nice and wholesome. Others seem bad and
degenerate. There's not much interaction, but that's ok. We have Mr.
Voice in our head, guiding us, providing us with insight, leading us
down the road to Eternal Happiness, whatever that is.
Misfortune has a LOT to say, and I mean a LOT. And this is great
because she is obviously the best thing about the game. She is voiced by
Killmonday's Natalia Martinsson (artist and co-writer/designer), who
does an absolutely fantastic job. Seriously, this is some of the best
voice work I've ever listened to in any game. It's up there. I cannot
fault it in any way. It is perfect. Without this voice, the game would
not even be half of what it is. It's vital! The only other prominent
voice is that off Mr. Voice himself, and he is also top-notch. He sounds
British. And very narratory. Like he's talking over a child's
edutainment film. And it works very well. I can't praise this voice work
I don't want to say too much else about the game, and its story,
because I don't want to spoil even the tiniest thing. I think you just
need to play it. It's the kind of game that is going to mean different
things to different people. But what I can say is that there is a
definite exploration of a troubled childhood. Misfortune is not happy.
Her home life is not good. She's alone. She loses herself in her
imagination. And she talks about it all with an innocence and a naivety
that only a child could, and would, have. She doesn't really get it. She
knows things are wrong. But she doesn't know why. And out in the wider
world - the real world - where things are dark and scary - she talks
about that in the same way. It's alien to her, but familiar too. She
understands things but without the actual ability to understand or
process them. So everything is all "Yay!" and
"Sparkly!" and "Happy!" It is both adorable and sad
at the same time. That's all I can really say about it. That's all I
want to say about it. You have to get in there yourself and feel it. And
feel you will. You might even… nope, that's all I can say.
Why do I have mixed feelings? Well, not for any really negative
reason. As I say, I like this game a lot, but I can't help but wish that
it had delved just a little deeper into the emotional turmoil of a child
in trouble. A child lost in a world too big and real for them. Striving
to find answers. Being conflicted. Trying to reason whether this thing
they're doing is right, or wrong. Is it going to solve their problems,
or make them worse? What IS happiness anyway? How can we even know, if
we don't even feel like we've ever experienced it? We are presented with
all manner of questions and thoughts like this - which is why I like it
- but, I just have that little nagging sense that we could have gone
just a bit deeper.
Gameplay wise, this is not your typical point-and-click adventure. We
don't have an inventory, and there aren't any real puzzles to solve.
What we do get are some little mini-game type things that we need to
partake in, to help us on our way, and these are quite fun. The game
actually bills itself as an "Interactive Story," and I think
this description fits it perfectly. One prominent feature is that of
making choices. And as we're told, there is no right or wrong, there are
just consequences. And there ARE consequences. So try to think about
things a little before you decide which way to go. You can always play
through again and make different choices, which probably would be a good
idea, just to absorb every single piece of the game, to get that full
How does the game look and sound? Fantastic! The art is atmospheric -
dark and cheery in all the right places. And there are some really cool
animated cinematics which really bring things to life. The music is
composed by Isak Martinsson, and it's very good. There are some full on
stand out tracks for the animations and certain scenes, and some more
quiet background tracks for the general gameplay. All in all, there's
nothing to complain about in these regards.
Before you start playing, you can mess with some options. There are
separate volume controls for speech, sound effects and music, a range of
resolutions, and some other simple things, to allow you to get things
just how you need them. You can replay the cinematic cutscenes from the
main menu, which is always a nice feature. And finally, you can take
another look through the collectible dolls that you find throughout the
game, if you want to ponder on their philosophical meanings some more.
All in all, this is a great little game. It's kind of short at only 4
hours, but importantly, it doesn't feel too short, so you won't be left
hanging. Killmonday continues to show they have a good grasp of
narrative story telling within the gaming medium, and I look forward to
anything and everything that they put out in the future.