Little Misfortune — Cheerful dark comedy that delights and disturbs

Little Misfortune is the latest release from KillMonday Games, the creators of cult-classic Fran Bow, which was a sensation on Steam upon its release in 2015.

Fans of Fran Bow will find the premise of Little Misfortune familiar — the simple art style, the color palette muted and cohesive, the point-and-click mechanics and the unsettling little girl are all reminiscent of Killmonday’s previous game. These similarities, thankfully, do not overshadow Little Misfortune as being defined by its predecessor. However, there’s enough dark weirdness in both to safely say that if Fran Bow isn’t your cup of tea, Little Misfortune won’t be either — especially if you are averse to casual reference to severe domestic violence or violence involving animals. 

Little Misfortune
It’s hard to tell which character is shadier here.

Little Misfortune’s exposition seems mostly to be about setting and mood, rather than explicit plot setup. You get a glimpse into Misfortune’s daily life and her unfailing optimism in the face of hardship and violence. It’s easy to be on Misfortune’s side, and to be wary of the disembodied narrator guiding your and her actions. As you spend the opening few minutes exploring Misfortune’s home, you get the sense that she is in an environment entirely void of adult presence, even though you see her mother briefly in the kitchen. This sets the stage for the rest of the game, as Misfortune explores a simultaneously surreal, whimsical, and depressing world. 

The means of navigating this world are quite straightforward — this is a point-and click game with very light puzzles that encourages you to come along for the ride. Challenges are minimal, and there are few tangential sidequests. However, there is some light replay value to be found in the decisions you make, although you will have a similar experience regardless of your actions.

A key element of Little Misfortune is the sound design. The sound effects are all deeply effective, and communicate the tone of each action and scene in a subtle way. All of Misfortune’s lines, as well as the narrator’s, are voice-acted. For the most part, the voice acting is impressive, contributing to immersion and supporting the characterization of the main characters. However, Misfortune’s voice in particular can become grating after a couple hours. Her catchphrases and cadences are quite repetitive, and shift from cute to annoying in an unfortunate way. This may, in fact, be intentional, and does reflect something accurate about the ways that children sometimes speak, latching onto a word or tone and using it until it becomes unbearable. Still, it contributes to an irritating experience for the player overall. 

Little Misfortune runs into someone unusual on the street.
Misfortune runs into some unusual characters on the street.

As for narrative, Little Misfortune is an endearing dark comedy. It has a simple charm that is difficult to resist — it makes you want to know what happens next. The pacing is a bit slow, but there are enough small events sprinkled throughout each setting to draw you into the humor and ambience of Misfortune’s odd world. If there is a drawback to be found here, it is in the game’s trademark darkness. There are several lines that are taboo simply for the sake of being taboo — there are blatant and somewhat cheap efforts to shock the player that I personally found unnecessary and that took me out of the otherwise engrossing experience.

In all, Little Misfortune is a polished and compelling story that leads you down a humorous and morbid path. Fans of Fran Bow certainly shouldn’t miss it, nor should anyone with a taste for oddball point-and-click adventures. 

Purchase Little Misfortune on Humble Bundle.

You can also find Little Misfortune on Steam.

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