Less a point and click adventure game and more an interactive storybook, Little Wheel does one thing and it does it tremendously well: Little Wheel blurs the line between art and gaming, challenging our notions of what an interactive experience can be.
As the one robot awakened from a 10,000 year slumber by a jolt of lightning, it’s up to you to make your way to the main power generator and bring the city’s tin can population back to life. Along the way you’ll need to solve a series of simple puzzles that will allow you to move the story forward. These puzzles require you to do things like activate elevators or lower bridges, and rarely require more than clicking two or three items in a logical order.
When you break it down, there’s very little “game” in Little Wheel. Sure there’s some basic problem solving that places this in the point and click adventure genre, but the challenges you face are so rudimentary that you’ll likely face bigger struggles when tying your shoes. Little Wheel isn’t a challenging web game by any stretch of the imagination, but if you’re looking for a challenge then you’re missing the point. Little Wheel is less a game and more a piece of interactive storytelling.
Set against a sombre sky, the story unfolds in a faux-silhouette style with the occasional lit-up mechanism demonstrating the progress Little Wheel is making in restoring power to his city. There’s a very hip, well-paced jazz score that loops throughout the course of the game and helps to reflect the sense of style already present in the environment. It all comes together to present an experience that feels like playing a silent film about a lonely robot, punctuated with a hopeful soundtrack that motivates you towards your goal. As a piece of art in games, as well as a piece of interactive fiction, Little Wheel hits the mark hard.
While it’s easy to appreciate Little Wheel for what it is, the simple gameplay is really going to be a big turn off for some. Not only are the handful of puzzles in the game incredibly easy to solve, but each clickable item is highlighted for you by a big white circle. While a decision like this probably stems more from the need to highlight objects given the silhouetted nature of visual presentation, it pretty much hands solutions to you on a silver platter. The simple gameplay makes sense when you think about the game less as a game and more as a story. Why would the developers want a player to get stuck when trying to move along to the next plot point? Little Wheel‘s little challenges serve only one purpose; to move the story forward.
It doesn’t offer a level of gameplay that is going to appeal to anyone looking for a quality gaming experience, but what makes Little Wheel weak in terms of gameplay is what makes it exceptional in terms of experience. Taking up only 10 minutes of your time, you’d be doing yourself a great disservice if you gave Little Wheel a pass.