One of the thousands of demos available as part of the Steam Next Fest 2021, Lil Gator Game immediately snapped up our attention.
Created by MegaWobble and published by Playtonic Friends, this adorable adventure game follows the story of Lil Gator and their Big Sis. In an attempt to distract Big Sis from her college work and play instead, we follow Lil Gator’s adventures across the island. All with not-so-subtle references to the Legend of Zel– sorry, ‘Legend of Hero‘ game they enjoyed in their croc childhood.
What’s The Story?
Playing as the titular Lil Gator, we join their friends Avery the frog, Martin the horse, Jill the dog, and a whole host of other animal characters on a remote island.
The main task of the demo is to gamify the entire island environment, with separate quests to acquire the essential pointed floppy hat, sword, and shield of the iconic definitely-not-Zelda series that Gator and Big Sis used to love playing together.
Each quest is set out by each of Lil Gator’s friends, and is rewarded in turn with one of the collectable items we need to tempt Big Sis away from her work. Everything about the story feels super cute and wholesome, but breaking the fourth wall with a tongue-in-cheek, self-aware humour keeps the game from veering into anything too saccharine or babyish for older audiences.
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Snappy Gameplay For Players And Gators
Fans of A Short Hike will be extremely happy with this game! There are some clear similarities in graphics and visual style, even down to the cute handwritten style of the dialogue.
However, where A Short Hike succeeds with a top-down static camera angle to be able to fully see the environment, Lil Gator Game benefits from a free-movement camera style similar to Breath of the Wild (where much of the game’s inspiration is derived from), so you can explore the world around you as you go, and uncover hidden surprises along the way.
The sandbox exploration gameplay means you can choose whichever mission you like first during this initial demo. Each quest you undertake showcases a new gameplay mechanic within the game, from fetch quests and puzzles to racing minigames and crafting from debris you find on the island. This latter quest comes with a reward of a new t-shirt to use as a glider. (Sound familiar yet?)
Besides these main quests, there are plenty of hidden gems to find, unlock, explore, and interact with that form smaller side quests. Coupled with a surprisingly responsive set of controls, with fluid movement that allows you to swim, run, slide, and glide across the island with ease, the pace is perfect for any casual players that either want to stick solely to the story or for any completionists looking for anything and everything to tick off.
The most notable thing to talk about in Lil Gator Game is the collection of animal characters and your interactions with them on the island. We don’t want to include too many spoilers, but it’s definitely something to enjoy for anyone who likes memorable social interactions in their games. Think Night in the Woods mixed in with some Animal Crossing.
There are also some unexpected additions to the game, such as a choices-matter aspect to certain situations. When you find the ‘sword’ in the woods, you bump into a duck character named Franny, who claims they’ve lost their favourite stick. You can answer differently and either keep or return the stick, with differing consequences for each. This was only a small part of the demo, so we’re keen to see how this may develop in the full game.
Final Thoughts for The Lil Gator Game Demo
We can’t state enough how much we love this first playthrough of Lil Gator Game so far. The full demo is quick and easy to complete (we clocked in at around half an hour completion time, including the main and side quests), so is a great way to try out and see for yourself without too much time investment. The humour is on-point, the artwork is amazing, and the collection of characters are all unique in their own way. We can’t wait to play more once the full game releases!
Lil Gator Game will be released digitally on Steam and Nintendo Switch in 2022. Wishlist it here.