High Ground View: Littlewood *Early Access* Review Verdict
Game title: Littlewood
Game description: Littlewood is a peaceful RPG that features cute pixel art, cheerful tunes, and a charming atmosphere. Inspired by titles like Animal Crossing and Runescape, players can expect gameplay that’s both relaxing and engaging. Overall, it’s a playful romp that delivers hours of joy and excitement.
RPG Elements - 7/10
Simulation Elements - 8/10
Art Elements - 10/10
A relaxing and easy to play farming, building, and town management simulation with plenty of cute characters. I am looking forward to playing the final version of this game.
You’ve defeated the mighty wizard and saved the world from his sinister grasp. The adventure is over, and it’s time to return home. Only, what’s there to do after you’ve completed your epic quest? Introducing Littlewood, a peaceful RPG that lets your write the remainder of the hero’s journey.
Littlewood exploded onto the indie gaming scene earlier this year with an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign. Since then, the game has continued to grow, mesmerizing new fans with its cute 2D pixel art, charming atmosphere, and whimsical sense of style. The game was officially released on June 18th, 2019 as an Early Access title on Steam, and the team here at HGG just had to check it out.
In the Trenches: Littlewood Gameplay
You’ve just returned from your harrowing adventure, where you fought the evil wizard and saved the world. With balance restored to the Land of Solemn, you find your way to the town of Littlewood, a small enclave that’s home to a couple of your closest friends. And here, the game begins.
As soon as you arrive in town, you’re greeted by your best friend Willow and the boyish archetype Dalton. They provide an introduction to the world’s lore and help you learn more about your character’s background. They also vote to make you Mayor of Littlewood.
It’s a lot of responsibility, but that’s the job. Your first task as mayor? Now that Solemn is safe, people are returning in search of a new home. And it’s your job to welcome them to your up-and-coming town.
It Takes a Village
Within just a few days, new townsfolk begin migrating to your quaint village. These characters include a perky scientist, an overly sensitive witch-in-training, and a gruff bird-man who always seems to have ruffled feathers. And just like real life, some you’ll enjoy more than others.
But they all offer a unique skillset or trade that actually benefits and grows the town. And it’s probably worth putting up with Busby’s arrogant attitude to gain access to his knowledgeable skillset. Heck– you may even grow to love him and his occasionally endearing superiority complex.
Interacting with the townsfolk is easy. You can strike up a conversation, hang out for the day, and perform favors for them. In addition, there’s a rating system that ranks your closeness with each villager. Complementing them increases this rating, and once you hit level 50, you can even go on dates!
I was worried that the complementing system would feel shallow, but you only get to use it once per day. This actually makes it a genuine way to show affection towards your favorite townsfolk. Another way to show you care? As the mayor, you’re tasked with building and furnishing the townsfolk’s houses. Decorate the interior to suit their unique personalities and watch them perk right up!
Living the Dream
If you’re a fan of sandbox titles, Littlewood is sure to delight. That’s because players are given complete control over the layout of their towns.
Build your town hall smack dab in the center of the map, or tuck your village deep into the corner of the lot. Then, design towering mountains, craterous lakes, and grassy farmsteads all around your encampment. You’re the mayor, and the town’s design is up to you!
The building mechanics are a lot of fun, and I poured hours into constructing my dream town. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing, as my first build was ruined by a faulty mechanic. What happened? Well, after spending over an hour developing my town, I ran out of ground tiles. This forced me to abandon my grand plan and shove all the villagers into a corner of the map. A huge bummer.
That said, there’s still a lot you can build; it just takes careful planning. My favorite buildable structure? A hot air balloon platform that lets you travel to other areas across the continent of Solemn! On my first trip away from town, I visited The Endless Forests, an enchanted grove that conjures up memories of a lost wood, an owl, and a silly song on the ocarina.
There are ten different hobbies to engage in within Littlewood. These include mining, farming, crafting, and several others. All that’s required to engage in a skill is the appropriate harvesting tool, beit a fishing rod, bug catching net, or woodcutting axe. Fortunately, you gain access to all of these pretty early into the game. And they’re super easy to use.
That’s because one button controls every harvesting tool. You simply approach a resource, click spacebar, and your character takes the appropriate action. It makes gameplay more intuitive and much smoother than similar titles that rely on clunkier interfaces (*ahem* Stardew Valley).
Another cool aspect of the game’s skills? The entire ecosystem is interconnected, and they all rely on one another. Let me give you an example.
Let’s say you want to increase your cooking level. No problem! Just head over to the town tavern and start cooking. But what happens when you run out of ingredients? Well, you’ll need to level up your farming and harvesting abilities to get more. Once you’ve gathered fresh ingredients, head back to the tavern to cook new recipes and gain additional experience. It’s a continuous cycle that keeps the game fresh and exciting (it also keeps the tavern stocked full of delicious treats).
And that’s just a taste of the symbiotic relationship between skills. The system is incredibly intricate, yet very well-balanced, and it genuinely resembles a real-world economy. Huge kudos to developer Sean Young for pulling off such an amazing feat.
Still, with so much going on, things can become a bit overwhelming at times. When that happens, you may need to take a day off to recharge and recuperate. Consider using this time to add new items to the museum. Or, check out some of the other cool activities that Littlewood has to offer.
A Charming Experience
The town’s calendar is split into four seasons, and each season has its own set of special events and activities. These little minigames offer a welcome escape from the daily grind, while sprinkling in more fun and magical moments. My personal favorite event? The Chicken Chase, which requires you to round up a bunch of loose hens. You only need guess at the mayhem that ensues.
Throughout my time in Littlewood (nearly 20 hours so far), I was continuously blown away by the thought and detail poured into each part of the journey. Everything just felt so balanced and deliberate. And though I kept reaching areas that were blocked due to the game being in Early Access, I can hardly wait to see what new metas and discoveries are yet to be uncovered.
Littlewood costs $14.99 on Steam, and I think this is a fair price (even considering its current development status). It’s also coming to Nintendo Switch at some point down the line, and I could see it performing well on that platform too. It would be a neat game to play on-the-go on the Switch tablet.
Our take? If you’re looking for a sandbox experience and playful romp, Littlewood is absolutely the way to go. If you expect polished perfection, hold off until the game is released in its entirety. Then promptly grab yourself a copy!
RPG Elements (7/10)
While Littlewood is marketed in the RPG games category, it leans heavily towards the simulation side of things. That’s because it lacks many of the elements that characterize typical role-playing games. Namely, combat, abilities, and progressive world lore.
It’s true that Littlewood calls itself a peaceful RPG, but I often found myself wishing it wasn’t. The big entrance at the South end of the town map was wide open, and it kinda felt like a tease. Yes, the game is designed to be played after the world has been saved, but what if it had a battling system? That would take the game to a perfect ten, hands down.
As it stands, Littlewood does an excellent job incorporating RPG elements into what is, in my opinion, more of a farming and social simulation game. This includes the complex and expertly balanced skill system, as well as a decent amount of storyline, considering the style of gameplay. It’s just that fans looking for a typical RPG won’t find that with Littlewood.
Simulation Elements (8/10)
This is where Littlewood really shines. From interacting with townsfolk, to farming crops, to designing the layout of the map, there is no shortage of simulation elements. Moreover, the different systems in place offer tons of excitement and creative possibilities.
For instance, players are able to chat, hangout, complement, and even date their fellow townsfolk! As mayor of the town, you’re also responsible for setting them up in an appropriate location, as well as building and decorating their homes. You must curry favor with each person, and the humorous dialogue and silly experiences that ensure are a reward in and of themselves.
In terms of farming, there are dozens of different crops to grow, animals to raise, and veggies to harvest. Simply enter building mode and create your ideal farmstead. Watch it grow over time, then check on it daily to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Littlewood offers a relaxing escape that truly feels revitalizing. Sure, there are a few areas that can be tweaked or improved (such as the tile limit), but the various simulation elements seem very balanced overall. And it’s still in Early Access! Who knows what a fine-tuned, polished version will look like?
Art Elements (10/10)
It doesn’t get more charming than this. Littlewood features the cutest pixel art graphics, characters, and overall atmosphere. The cheerful soundtrack never got boring, even after nearly 20 hours of gameplay. And the thought and detail threaded into every element of the game is seriously unreal for an indie with only one developer.
Entering the world of Solemn and assuming your role as Mayor of Littlewood is an exciting journey. The graphics, sound effects, and mechanics all come together to weave a story that immerses you in the game world. It quickly becomes a second home, a place that you never want to leave. The good news? You don’t have to!
That’s because Littlewood is a game you can come back to time and time again. Whether it’s for a quick check-in, or a few new quests, you can expect your tiny village and old pals patiently awaiting your return. Adventure beckons in Littlewood.
Zoom In: A Closer Look
Let’s take a closer look at Littlewood’s game specs and PC requirements:
- Game Modes: Campaign
- Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, Switch
- Genre: Social Simulation & RPG
- Developer: Sean Young
- Release: 2019
- Price: $14.99
- Business Model: Game Sales
- PC System Requirements: 2.0 GHZ Processor, 1GB RAM, 256MB Graphics, Windows XP+
Zoom Out: Littlewood Summary
If you’ve ever played an RPG and wondered what happens after the world is saved, Littlewood is here to answer that question. Assume the role of the mighty hero, home from his quest, and jump into this peaceful RPG that incorporates social simulation elements, sandbox building, and more. It’s a cute and playful romp that’s certain to evoke memories of your favorite titles, in a way that’s totally fresh and engaging.