Ever wonder what happens to the protagonists of your favourite adventures after they complete their epic journeys to save the world? Littlewood answers that question, with the player awakening in a small house in the titular town of Littlewood (or whatever you want to call it) after beating the villainous Dark Wizard, with the title ‘The Hero of Solemn’ graced upon them along with a heap of praise from the villagers.
Unfortunately, the hero doesn’t remember anything about this conquest they embarked upon. Amnesiac heroes… gotta love ‘em, right? Fortunately, you’re able to piece together your memories by helping rebuild the town of Littlewood and interacting with its many pleasant inhabitants, with discovering more about your past, the feats you achieved, and the relationships you shared with others the crux of the tale. Nope, there isn’t some dastardly evil genius working in the background in Littlewood that you’ve got to be wary of – this is a game that’s calm, peaceful, and all about reaping the rewards of your previous successes. Hey, even the greatest of heroes get time to relax when their job is done… well… unless there’s a sequel.
Anyone familiar with the likes of Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley, or similar life-sim titles should feel comfortable with Littlewood from the get-go. As the hero, you’re tasked with helping re-build the town, gathering the resources required to craft, and helping keep the townsfolk happy along the way. As you achieve more around the town, you’ll begin to learn more about your previous accomplishments and the relationships that you had previously shared with the townsfolk. You may have forgotten everything you had achieved before, but they certainly haven’t.
Resource gathering is straightforward for the most part, with players using a variety of tools to head out mining, fishing, bug catching, and so forth. You do have to consider your stamina when performing a lot of these tasks, though you’re not working to a strict deadline so it’s never too much bother having to rest up for the night and return to your jobs the next day.
One neat feature that I especially appreciated with this was that you didn’t have to constantly swap between the tools you had equipped, with Littlewood automatically using the correct tool when you interact with specific harvestable objects. Believe me, after spending hours juggling through my equipment in Animal Crossing over the last year, this was a massively appreciated feature. I know from experience that resource gathering can feel like a small chore at times, but it really streamlines the process.
There’s a decent chunk of space for you to build upon in Littlewood, though that doesn’t expand the more you play. Instead, you’ve got to build smart and be clever in your approach, especially if you want to please everyone around you. Yep, the townsfolk will often come at you with requests as to how they’d like their homes to be laid out across the town, so you’ll have to be forward-thinking and a bit thrifty with your resources in order to meet their demands.
This was one of the features that I loved in Littlewood. I’ve played plenty of life-sims where there hasn’t been a whole lot to worry about in regards to the layout of your town, but having requests in place meant I really had to think outside of the box and use the space carefully. A similar idea was utilised in Dark Cloud (one of my favourite RPGs of all time) so following the same procedure here was a joy.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t have plenty of freedom to do what you want when building the town. Players are able to shape just about every aspect of their town, whether it’s swapping around the locations of buildings, deciding which new locales should open up next, upgrading previously existing buildings to expand their potential, or even re-shaping the terrain. There’s a whole lot to play around with and I constantly found myself tinkering with the layout to make it PERFECT. The tools are in place for a whole lot of customisation – all you need is a bit of imagination.
One of my favourite things about Littlewood was the way that it constantly introduced new ideas. Bringing new buildings to the town often opened more avenues for you to craft or gather resources, interacting with the townsfolk allows you to build relationships with them (and even get married), there’s a TON of furniture to craft to keep decorating buildings, seasons pass by and bring with them an array of joyful events, and you’ll even get to venture further afield and go exploring. Sure, there’s an emphasis placed on grinding through resources to achieve a lot of this progression, but there’s this satisfying sense of pace to the game that keeps bringing new ideas into the mix to keep players entertained. I really loved it.
The only real complaint I had was that it could be a little guilty of simplifying things when compared to its peers. Whilst Littlewood does a lot of the same things seen in similar titles such as Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley, it never really offers the same depth seen in those worlds. It’s not a big complaint because the sheer versatility offered in Littlewood’s world more than makes up for it, but those after deeper farming or crafting mechanics might feel a little underwhelmed.
Other than that? Littlewood makes for a REALLY jolly and fun time, with a heck of a lot to get stuck into. More and more unique folk are showing up in my town and are a joy to interact with, I’m discovering more recipes through experimentation, whilst the sheer variety of things on offer means that there’s got to be a fair bit of satisfying forward-thinking ahead of each day I spend in-game. I was pleasantly surprised at just how meaty Littlewood really is, whilst the fact that it came from a solo dev is even more impressive. I’ve been completely hooked into this peaceful and whimsical world for well over twenty hours now and haven’t even grown close to feeling bored… heck, I even begrudge stepping away from it to write this review…
Oh, and before I forget: I LOVE the art style of the game. It’s simple and small (you’ll see what I mean in the screenshots), but it’s also vibrant and full of personality. It suits the vibe of the game perfectly.
Littlewood offers a wonderful life-sim that’s packed to the brim with whimsical town-building fun for players to indulge themselves in. Honestly, there’s so much to do in the game, whilst the intuitive controls ensure nothing ever feels like a chore – even IF you’re spending hours alternating between mining minerals or chopping away at trees…
There’s just a really fun time to be had with Littlewood, whilst the sense of purpose that the town’s inhabitants offer brings with it some goals to achieve and a sense of progress to all of your building. Whilst there’s no denying that it can simplify a lot of the mechanics seen in similar life-sims, the way that it brings them all together into one jolly package is close to perfect.
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC