It’s hard to avoid spoilers for a game that’s only 30 minutes long – what else is there to talk about? Thankfully, in ClubCottonGames’ Little Miss Lonely, there are quite a few things.
Central character Robin, a nine year old girl, goes through a lot in these 30 minutes. It can make Little Miss Lonely feel very rushed at times, but as a nine year old, the confusion, the pace, and the scenes chosen suit how someone would look back on their childhood memories. Robin struggles to sleep by herself so often wanders into her parents’ bedroom in the middle of the night – much to her father’s displeasure as he believes she is too old to still need to sleep with her parents.
While rough around the edges, Little Miss Lonely‘s raw pencil sketch art style really helps accentuate Robin’s isolation from the world around her. It’s a very simple style which the game’s sole developer describes as “trying to recreate the effect of holding a torchlight behind a piece of paper” – and you can’t doubt that. The way the world is lit makes most of the screen empty besides a small area around Robin. She’s an isolated girl and Little Miss Lonely is not shying away from putting you in her shoes and keeping you there.
The voice acting that accompanies character dialogue is distorted and reversed, adding to an uncomfortable atmosphere throughout the game. The art style and the voice acting create an alienating experience, but that along with isolation are the very themes that Little Miss Lonely sets out to explore.
Despite its excellent thematic mood setting, Little Miss Lonely is lacking some polish that stops this being a fully immersive experience. For one, the writing in the game is full of simple grammar and spelling errors – even the desktop shortcut for the game reads as “Little Miss Lonley”. It appears as though English is not the developer’s first language. Gameplay should be relatively simple, but I encountered a few bugs standing in my way. Pressing spacebar at any point in the game starts you in the scene where you have to go to walk to your parents’ bedroom as you can’t sleep. There were two puzzles in Little Miss Lonely. One bugged out which meant I had to use spacebar, but after the bedroom scene, a completely different section started instead of the puzzle I was doing beforehand. I was left questioning the game’s chronology. I tried to retry that one section, but then the game crashed and I haven’t been able to get back into it since. So I’m in a position where I don’t know if I finished the game, and even if I did, I don’t know whether what I played was in the right order; either way I’ve definitely missed something.
Still, Little Miss Lonely is certainly an interesting experience, albeit with room for improvement in terms of technical finesse. One thing’s for sure though: Little Miss Lonely nails its aesthetic, excellently accentuating its main themes and the feelings that it’s trying to portray. It’s currently on Steam Greenlight, and is available to buy on itch.io for less than $3. For that price, despite its issues, it’s certainly worth a look.