The Little Fox looks like it should be a brilliant game. It’s visually stunning, mixing cartoon graphics, a gorgeous 3D style, and mechanics that should fit perfectly on mobile. But the end result is a disappointing one. Everything nearly manages to fall into place, but there’s one massive stumbling block – the game just isn’t that much fun.
Difficulty spikes and finicky controls will leave you fuming, and more often than not it’ll take almost countless retries to get to the end of any of the levels.
You play at the titular fox, who’s sprinting through a series of levels trying to collect tear drops to water a miserable rose that’s been abandoned by children’s literature favourite The Little Prince.
These levels are made up of hexagon tiles. The fox sprints automatically, and you control the direction he heads in, tapping on the left of the screen to move left and tapping the right of the screen to move right. The fox changes direction one side of a tile at a time, and you need to guide him through the levels in a single run. Fall off the edge of the path and it’s game over. No matter how far you’ve got, you’re kicked back to the start of the level.
On top of that, the game lets you to go back to levels you’ve completed to finish them within the time limit and grab all of the tears. These are optional extras, which is good, because when you’ve finished a level you’ll never want to go back and do it again.
From the get go everything feels like a grind. You’re pushing through bit by bit, learning when you need to turn and figuring out the easiest route to get to the end. But the thing is that you’re never enjoying yourself while this is happening. It feels like you’re banging your head against a brick wall, and when you make a mistake half way through a level you’ve already completed 96% of, you’ll want to scream.
The game throws in new ideas as well, but without ever really explaining them, you’re left stumbling into the abyss without really knowing why it’s happened.
I’m not saying that games need to hold your hand, and I’m not saying that games shouldn’t offer up some sort of challenge, but The Little Fox goes about it all the wrong way. It’s cruel when it needs to be kind, obscure when it needs to be clear, and messy when it needs to be precise.
There’s a lovely story here, and a delightful art style that sets the game out from so many generic looking runners on the App Store. But when you get down to the nitty gritty, to the important bits, you’ll find it lacking in almost every aspect.
I really wanted to like The Little Fox. I wanted it to be as entertaining, engaging and quirky as the story that inspired it, and as brilliant as it looks. Instead it’s all a bit of a mess. You’ll spend most of your time with the game frustrated at best, and annoyed at worst. And after a few hundred attempts at breaking through, with the hope that there is a great game here somewhere, you’ll realize that you’re wasting your time and head off to do something else.