For a third-person platforming adventure about anthropomorphic animals in an idyllic rural world, Lil Gator Game is surprisingly relatable and that’s perhaps one of its greatest strengths. A resolutely wholesome and boundlessly charming little gem that casts our minds back to a much earlier, more innocent time where staving off the debilitating effects of childhood boredom was a prime concern above just about anything else, Lil Gator Game is also about the passage of time, of how our siblings who used to play with us, no longer did as the shadow of responsibility begins to loom, forcing us to press our imaginations into action that much harder to keep ourselves entertained.
Lil Gator Game PS5 Review
An Adorably Wholesome, Breezily Fun Platforming Adventure For Everyone
Putting players into the scaly shoes of a young alligator that has grown up creating role-playing adventures with his Big Sis, our wide-eyed protagonist soon discovers that his elder sibling hasn’t got that same amount of free time anymore to play with him any longer and so, with an imagination stuffed with creativity, sets out to entertain himself all the while helping out his friends and making new acquaintances along the way. Put simply, Lil Gator Game has enough wholesomeness that it feels practically restorative and that is arguably another of Lil Gator Game’s most notable strengths.
Clearly built with players of all ages in mind, Lil Gator Game is as beautifully straightforward as it gets. Essentially, Lil Gator Game is all about playing and making new friends – something that becomes tragically more difficult as you get older – or at least it does for me anyway. In practice, you do this by chatting to the denizens of the islands which you call your home, taking on challenges and using your wooden sword to destroy the various cardboard monsters (it’s all about imagination, remember) and coloured pots that are dotted around the place.
Doing so not only rewards you seemingly worthless cardboard scraps that act as the main currency for Lil Gator Game, with our hero treating those bits and pieces of torn cardboard as gold that can be traded for new clothes, tools and other such items that can aid in progressing through the game, such as mysterious bracelets that increase your climbing stamina, for example.
In addition to scooping up as much cardboard as possible, it’s in the making new friends part of Lil Gator Game that this ultra-charming effort bares its soul the most. Often a series of unique tasks that must be completed to make someone’s day better in some sort of fashion, these quests run a whole gamut from skimming stones across a lake to using a makeshift shield to surf the seas, vanquishing some monsters for a ‘hidden ninja clan’ and, most heart-warmingly, just talking to someone who is feeling down in the dumps. It’s fantastically soul-affirming stuff to say the least.
To be clear, there’s no violence, swearing or death whatsoever in Lil Gator Game and the closest you’ll get to anything remotely resembling failure is if you aren’t able to complete a timed race or some other challenge quickly enough – at which point you can just try again in short order anyway. Lil Gator Game then, coupled with a very gentle trajectory of challenge, very much removes such barriers for players to allow them to plumb the near endless depths of its charm, making it suitable for gamers (and non-gamers) alike.
There’s an almost scrappy nature to the way physics are handled in Lil Gator Game, too. While it may seem like some jumps or climbs can’t be completed, the game often rewards you for trying to cheese it by jumping and climbing into nooks and crannies before rebounding off to where you need to go and this in turn provides a feeling of discovery that was quite unexpected. Lil Gator Game is all about the power of imagination and the sense of wonder that at a moment’s notice you could whisk yourself away to a fantastical realm. Though by the same token it also serves as a sobering reminder that many adults, including myself, start to lose that ability to spirit ourselves away from the often drudgery of our day to day existence.
Greatly supporting what is already a resolutely charming package, Lil Gator Game has some of the most whip smart and yet wholesome dialogue you’ll ever see in a video game, showcasing a light-hearted and innocent tone that is almost nothing else on the market right now. Certainly, the closest analogue I can think of is the similarly whimsical indie effort A Short Hike. Touchingly, littered around the islands are memories of when our Lil Gator used to play with Big Sis, who has since become swallowed up in her work and has sadly outgrown such joyous pursuits. Such memories are often melancholy discoveries, yet they feel like a crucial part of Lil Gator Game’s sometimes bittersweet tale of growing up and in turn being outgrown by your siblings.
Where perhaps you could find fault with Lil Gator Game, beyond its relatively short duration, is in how such UI elements as a map or quest markers simply don’t appear to be present. For me personally, their omission isn’t an issue since both of them would seem to be at odds with the sense of discovery, so not having such design elements being present doesn’t meaningfully detract from the overall offering.
Visually, Lil Gator Game is something of an understated treat. Filled with lovingly crafted island environments that take in all manner of cliffs, beaches, waterways, caves, forests and much more, Lil Gator Game’s visual stylings are underscored by a vibrantly colourful and clean presentation that just skates along at a razor sharp 4K resolution and 60 frames per second. A word also has to be said about the character animations too, with the titular Lil Gator having the most adorable trot I think I have ever seen. The soundtrack too is also worthy of mention, with its use of delicate flute melodies and light strings beautifully underscoring the twee nature of the whole affair.
Though Lil Gator Game isn’t especially long, it leaves an indelible mark on you, like a high-five with a loved one that leaves your hand with a pleasant soreness to remind you of the fact. Lil Gator is restorative in a way that many games just aren’t – it slowly strips away your layers of resistance until you fall in love with its straightforward, though greatly satisfying adventure platform beats. Lil Gator Game is unreservedly pure, distilled happiness and innocence all in one glorious concoction and couldn’t we all do with a bit more of that these days?
Lil Gator Game is out now on PS4 and PS5 for £16.75/€19,99/$19.99. A 20% launch discount until October 24th will be in effect on both platforms.
Review code kindly provided by PR.