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End your year on a charming note with this adorable Zelda-like game

After a long 12 months, 2022 is almost over.  It’s been a busy year on the gaming side, with demanding games like Elden Ring and God of War Ragnarok eating up hundreds of hours. If you’re looking for a quick low-stakes come-down before the ball drops, Lil Gator Game is the perfect adventure for your New Year’s weekend.

Lil Gator Game - Launch Trailer - Nintendo Switch

Lil Gator Game is a short and endearing little adventure game that pays tribute to The Legend of Zelda in the cutest way possible. It stars a young alligator who sets out on a mini-quest to befriend as many animals as possible in a small open world. Players have to complete simple quests for potential friends, which can be as simple as fighting off a few cardboard monsters or retrieving a lost, oversized pencil.

It’s similar in structure to A Short Hike, another tiny indie adventure game starring animals, though it’s more direct and playful about its design inspirations. Early on, players get their first sword (a stick) and a shield (a pot lid) before finding a familiar “pointy floppy” hat. After a few short quests, the gator gains the ability to climb any surface and glide through the air using an oversized t-shirt — a mechanic that a frog friend pokes fun at as being from a “different game in the series.”

An alligator tightrope walks on telephone lines in Lil Gator Game.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Everything here, from gameplay to writing, is light and sweet. The island is a soft wash of natural colors that’s relaxing to stroll around. Traversal is streamlined and smooth. Its lack of a map or quest log left me feeling a bit lost at times, but the world is compact and easy enough to get around that I was never wandering too long. Even when I was lost, I could always find a new friend to help out by completing a simple quest that was easy enough for a kid to understand

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That last bit is the most important part. Lil Gator Game is a “kids game,” but I don’t mean that it’s “a game for children.” Rather, it’s an adventure game that lets older players see the world through the eyes of a kid. It transports me back to when I was young and goofing around on the playground: a stick became a sword, a simple task became a quest, and a friend became a valuable ally in whatever imaginary battle I was fighting. Lil Gator Game captures that youthful energy, where the world is just one big playground.

An alligator sails on a piece of wood in Lil Gator Game.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you’re looking for a good game to play with your kids, or simply want to understand their perspective, Lil Gator Game is a breezy three-hour adventure that charms with silly and sincere writing. Everyone could use more good-natured games that are just about making friends and spreading kindness — adults included.

Lil Gator Game is available now on PC and Nintendo Switch.

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Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
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