Publisher: Philips Interactive Media
Litil Divil is an action-adventure game in which you play as a demon named Mutt, who has drawn the short straw among his peers and is now tasked with journeying through the labyrinths of Hell to acquire a pizza. This is, as it turns out, absurdly complicated. In each of the five acts you move through a maze (in behind-the-shoulder third person), avoiding traps, picking up spare piles of treasure, and finding and solving various puzzles and minigames.
Your ultimate goal in each act is to find the final door with enough money to buy its key, then defeat its guardian, while also carrying the three random items (like an anvil or a heart with an arrow through it) required to be allowed to move on to the next level. Besides bribing the door guardian, you also use money in each level’s shop, as some minigames can only be completed with the aid of certain items. For example, one of the first rooms you encounter is occupied by a giant spider, and there’s nothing you can do there until you’ve found enough money to buy the bug spray.
The minigames can be rather finicky. There’s no on-screen indication about what you can interact with and what you can’t, and so some rooms took me a few minutes of wandering around, achieving nothing, until I stood in the exact right spot to trigger something to happen, which may be only a pixel or so to the left and right of other spots I’d already tried. I don’t mind the trial-and-error too much, except every few failed attempts will send you back out of the room, and you have to watch an unskippable cutscene of Mutt walking across a bridge, disheartened. Then, if you want to try again, you get to watch another unskippable cutscene of him going back across the bridge the other way. It’s only a handful of seconds, but a few hours into the game and it becomes maddening.
Also maddening: the mazes you spend most of your time in. The way the screen is set up, the maze is only a portion of what you see, and the part of the maze you actually walk in is even smaller, and your character takes up a large percentage of this small part. In other words, you will constantly walk into traps because your own body was blocking your view of them. The traps only take off a little bit of health, but the hallways are choked with them. If you realize partway down a hall that you want to turn around, the screen doesn’t reset, so now you’re walking into the camera and the traps are almost unavoidable. As the game progresses, they get worse and worse. In Act III, they add monsters to some of the pits you need to jump over, so if you jump over the wrong one, the monster hits you. Keep in mind, the entire walkway is just pits, so you have to jump over one of them, and there’s no indication which is safe and which isn’t. On top of this, the penalty for death is steep, as each maze only has one room you can save in, and the mazes are large (and filled with traps!) so on more than one occasion I died in the maze and lost 45-60 minutes of progress.
Litil Divil has a terrific look to it. The art style of the minigames is interesting and engaging, and has early 90s PC game all over it. These aren’t just graphics, these are some VGA-looking graphics. The sound design is nothing too special, but hangs out nicely in the background mostly, and there is, at least, some music. But as much as I enjoyed looking at the game, and experiencing all the unique minigames and puzzles, the awful mazes you spend most of your time in, and the number of times I had to re-do large sections because opportunities to save are so rare, overwhelmed most of the good feelings I had for Litil Divil and left me, ironically, cold.
Graphics – 9
The art style, particularly in the minigames, really stands out as something special
Sound – 7
Perfectly functional, if unmemorable
Gameplay – 5
The mazes are awful, and even within the minigames controlling your character doesn’t always feel like it should
Value – 7
There are more than enough levels of this particular Hell — maybe too many actually
Reviewer’s Tilt – 6
I wanted to like this one, I really did, but after a few hours with it I was ready to never step foot in another one of its mazes
Final Score – 6.4