Review : Littlewood : Big Fun in a Crowded Genre

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My first impression of Littlewood was that the game was going to be an overly simplified farming/village sim in the same style as the multitude of games in this genre.  I could not have been more wrong.  Littlewood plays as a hybrid of many of those games. It has town building, decorations, terraforming, and town perks similar to Animal Crossing.  It has collecting, crafting, and relationships like Stardew Valley or Harvest Moon.  It has skills and a level system that would fit in an RPG without being overwhelmingly confusing. Littlewood somehow takes the mechanics of many complicated and in-depth games, and combines them into an experience that is somehow both simple and approachable. Yet it is also an incredibly in-depth and fulfilling game. It’s rare to find a title that is simple enough for one of my kids to understand, but deep and engaging enough for an experienced gamer to enjoy. Littlewood accomplishes that in amazing fashion.

Characters have a multitude of customization options in Littlewood

Littlewood starts off in similar fashion, and with similar mechanics, to anyone familiar with the genre. The main character is dropped into the town in the land of Solemn and the town is very barren. There is a twist though, the main character is the hero of Solemn, but somehow retains no memories of the events nor does he remember any of the townspeople that live in the town. The overarching story-line is a combination of rebuilding the town, exploring the land of Solemn, and ultimately trying to recover your lost memories. There are 15 townspeople that you will meet and interact with throughout the game with most of them having a specialty to help you rebuild the town and to help explore more of Solemn. For example, Dalton is a character you meet early on and he provides you with the basic tools like an axe and bug net. One of the main sources of income is from when you build a marketplace. The marketplace allows you to sell up to 8 items per day and you will get paid when you wake up in the morning. Another critical building is the townhall. In this building you can view your town’s beauty score which is increased by removing weeds and building town décor items. You can also buy passive upgrades to increase your resource yields and increase benefits from your followers. These benefits will make your stamina usage more efficient and help you get more out of each day.

 

An example of the passive upgrades in the townhall

The daily gameplay loop is standard for this type of game. The beginning days are restricted but as you progress and meet townspeople, you’ll unlock new equipment and new tasks will be open to perform. Over the course of a day you can collect resources like stone, wood, plants, bugs, and fish, you can craft items like ingots, planks, food. A few days into the game you will be given some crops to begin farming though it doesn’t have a predominant role in Littlewood like other games, but it does serve as a source of ingredients for crafting or items to sell.  Every town building has a daily upgrade that can be performed. Each upgrade costs increasingly more, but every level upgrade either provides you with additional materials or an upgrade to the building. Honestly, there are so many mechanics in this game it’s tough to talk about them all without just making a boring list, but the magic of Littlewood is that nothing has felt tedious or like a grind.

Probably the best quality of life improvement that Littlewood has over other games in the genre is how time is handled. There are days that pass, but time doesn’t pass passively. Instead, time passage is controlled by your character’s stamina bar. So “time” only passes when you actively perform a task. When all of your stamina is used up you get a warning message that it’s time for bed. If you do another action after that point, you will “pass out” and wake up in your house the next day. However, if you go back and sleep you receive a 25% stamina bonus when you wake up. At the end of the day all the townspeople will gain experience, and you will gain experience in the skills that you used (gathering, crafting, fishing, etc.) higher level resources are locked behind skill levels. When it comes to fishing and bug catching there are certain species that are season specific, but thankfully there are areas and ways to catch the rare critters no matter what season it is, so there’s no stress about missing anything.

There’s a bunch of areas to explore once you progress and level up your town

The townspeople have their own goals and personalities as well.  Many characters will have unique dialogues every day so it’s worth talking to them at least once daily. Characters provide many blueprints in the beginning of the game to help jump start building, and acquisition of tools. You can also choose to bring one of the townspeople with you for the day, and there are various bonuses and rewards for completing tasks with them as followers. Like similar games, Littlewood has a relationship mechanic where you can woo your way into the hearts of the townspeople. Once per day you have the option to compliment a townsperson which eventually changes to flirting, dating, and eventually, the option to marry. Your spouse will move into your house and you can get a special set of furniture from them.  Another cool mechanic with the townspeople is their individual goals that are unlocked once you get a furniture blueprint from a character named Dalton. When you put a desk in their house you can see specific wants. These specific goals are usually a house requirement such as them wanting a specific piece of furniture, or to have their house located within a certain town building. Completing these goals will provide you more resources to upgrade and develop the town further.

The hot air balloon station and nighttime in Solemn

One of the coolest mechanics in the game opens after you build the hot air balloon station. This allows you to fly to other areas outside of the town which include woods, caves, rare fishing areas, and rare bug catching areas. The balloon station, like most buildings, requires upgrades and new areas will open when you hit certain upgrade tiers. Also, the areas themselves can be upgraded and you will find different resources based on the area’s level. These areas are crucial to developing your town as rarer materials can only be found within them.

The Endless Forest is just on area to explore for special resources

Just in case all these mechanics weren’t enough to keep your interest, Littlewood also has a built-in card game called Tarott Monster. You can play against the townspeople and there’s also a group of elite players that you can challenge once you build the card shop. While not critical to progression you can get statues of all the townspeople which help increase your town’s beauty score.

You can customize not only your house but all the houses in town.

Overall Littlewood is great game in the farming/town-building/simulation genre. It stands on its own in a genre that is chock full of similar games. If you’re a fan of the genre, and played games like Stardew Valley or Harvest Moon, Littlewood offers enough new gameplay and new mechanics that it won’t feel like just more of the same. If you are new to the genre, Littlewood is very approachable and is not overwhelming to new players. Littlewood offers a lot of quality of life improvements as well such as a simpler day cycle, easier farming and crafting, and simplified relationship mechanics. The title is definitely worth checking out on the Nintendo Switch as it’s a great title to play on the go and can be played as quickly as you’d like, or over longer play sessions. In terms of replayability, while there isn’t much reason to start a brand new game, there are many reasons to keep coming back.

Final Verdict : 8 

Fun Factor: 8
Technical Prowess : 4
Time Investment : 25-35 Hours
Replayability : 7

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By Nathan Lynch

I'm a father of 3 amazing kids and a US Army veteran who's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days. Outside of gaming I'm an avid cook, mainly meat on the grill or in cast iron, rookie fisherman, and lover of cheese. I primarily play on my Xbox One, Nintendo Switch or PC. My favorite games are rogue-lites, looter shooters, and anything I can play co-op. I am a huge supporter of fundraising for Extra-Life and can be found on Twitter @NatorMVP

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