I must admit, I wasn’t terribly excited to play Little Miss Lonely. Indie side-scroller about childhood and stuff? With hand-drawn graphics? It just seemed a bit been there, done that, y’know? Some time later, as I was having many feelings and crying Real Tears of Actual Emotion, I was reminded of something about judging books by their covers and how it wasn’t appropriate behaviour for a lady to engage in.

Little Miss Lonely was pretty much what I expected, it’s just that I wasn’t prepared for it to be so affecting. It’s a game that knows exactly what kind of atmosphere it wants to create and it absolutely nails it. The sketchy, torn-paper art, complete with subtitles handwritten on paper scraps, is reminiscent of schoolwork, of a child expressing themselves as best they can. Combined with an intentionally limited view and cleverly garbled dialogue, (see if you can spot the trick) it conveys a sharp unreality, caught between dream and memory.

Robin, the protagonist, plods dully through a treacly narrative punctuated by a handful of simple puzzles. The pacing serves to both lull and wear down the player, leaving you vulnerable to the drip feed of pathos that increases as the game reaches its conclusion. I’m not too proud to admit that at one point I had to take a short break. It turned out that it was just a few minutes before the end, but even then I was raw and red-eyed by the time I was done.

There are a couple of niggling issues with the game. It took me several minutes of clicking and poking at keys to figure out what the controls were, and there are some persistent spelling and grammar errors. On the whole, it’s nothing major, especially as the first release from a one-person indie outfit.

Childhood can be messy, confusing and dully painful. Little Miss Lonely provides a poignant reminder of this without relying on cheap shots to tug the heartstrings. While a brief experience (it took me a little over half an hour to get through) it’s certainly worth a look if you’re interested in thoughtful, gentle games that will quite possibly make you cry.

Caelyn Ellis