Last week, indie escapism landed on the Nintendo Switch, and we’ve finally managed to pull ourselves away from the Nintendo handheld to write up our Littlewood Switch review.
Taking plenty of direction from slice of life sims like Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley, Littlewood discards the daily troubles of your every day and escapes into a charming world where the only worries revolve around which flowers to plant and whether to attend the local egg hunt. Putting players in the shoes of a village hero, Littlewood takes place moments after you vanquish a ner do well and save a quaint 8 bit pixel painted town from destruction. Naturally, being the town savior, the work of rebuilding this home on the range falls to you and acts as a wonderfully subversive way to take on this new life on the farm.
Much like Stardew Valley, Littlewood takes a cute retro aesthetic and reminds me of a time when gripping either end of a Game Boy Advance was cutting edge. From the opening moments of this comforting adventure and Littlewood flashes to life, a gorgeous low-resolution town unfurls alongside a world full of lush green forests, dark dusty caves. Whether you love or hate the top-down 2D look and old school soundtrack, there’s no denying that it works incredibly well on the limited real estate of the Switch. Odd creatures and new friends are equally engaging, popping with color and inviting players to simply lose themselves in this new adventure.
While there’s plenty of ideas from other old school RPGs on offer in Littlewood, don’t let artistic similarities to Stardew Valley lead you down the wrong road. Littlewood is much more akin to Story of Seasons than a fully-fledged RPG. Focusing on gathering, building, farming, and forging relationships, Littlewood quickly pushes the responsibility of rebuilding your home town onto the player character. After some exposition and early decisions, you’ll be pronounced Mayor and expected to start building infrastructure for the fledgling homestead.
Thankfully, Littlewood dutifully holds players by the hand through those opening moments and you’re unlikely to get lost early on. Getting around and interacting with residents is very much a point and click endeavor, with construction just a few clicks away. There’s tons of extra add ons for your newly named village too, from residential housing to taverns and balloon stations. Each of these new areas serves a particular purpose and are erected by simply matching a particular blueprint with the correct materials. It’s relatively light touch town planning, with plenty of room available to cram in all the relevant services.
Getting your hands on all this material is equally easy and encourages the new mayor to get out into the wider world, exploring a range of odd environments while chopping wood, mining ore, and grabbing items for barter. Most of the money you’ll end up making is ploughed directly back into a multitude of town upgrades but unlike the awesome Moonlighter, there’s no danger in looting these locales. While you might meet a nasty tree monster once you’ve taken a hot air balloon to the mysterious woods, the worst that will happen is you get kicked out of a zone for the evening, and that’s not particularly taxing.
This laid back attitude is pervasive in Littlewood. Mayors can build as they wish, make their own goals, explore as they wish, and farm whatever they want. Of course, there are plenty of progression and skill hurdles to overcome, unlocking lots of new options as you level up your abilities an relationships with townspeople. There are, however, no set quests, no demanding residents to get upset at a lack of housing, or any fear that food will go off in the ground. This free form approach is easily the best thing about Littlewood and allows players to simply sit back and enjoy the simple things, whether it’s complimenting a new resident or trying your hands at one of the many seasonal events that roll in as the calendar creeps onwards.
As day turns to night and summer speeds on, it’s obvious that this painless play style is entirely necessary. There are rarely enough hours in the days and the day/night cycle will rarely give gamers enough time to do much more than dash in and get a little of what they need, so frugal use of your time is utterly vital. Still, whether you’re ready to build the busiest town imaginable, officially become the cutest small hamlet in history or a famous fishing maestro you can. Littlewood is a picturesque escape into a magical world that doesn’t expect anything more than your own enjoyment. If you’re sick of the pressures of daily life, then quit being a hero and take some time in Littlewood, available on the Nintendo eShop now.
A code was provided by PR for this Littlewood Switch review