For years, I have been looking for a game that can hook me like Stardew Valley did. The charm, characters, colorful visuals, whimsical soundtrack, and addictive gameplay loop made it near impossible to put down. While I enjoy playing it even to this day, I still am waiting for the next title that will draw me in with such simple and relaxing fun. Littlewood, a game by Sean Young, is one such game that is trying to strike gold with this niche genre that I call “Wholesome Town Builders.”
The premise of Littlewood is simple: you won the war against the “Dark Wizard,” lost your memory, and woke up to an empty town that needs to be rebuilt. After helping a couple townsfolk move in, your trusty second-in-command/adviser Willow suggests that you should be the Mayor (or in my case the “Supremleader”) of this brand new town. As you make progress in rebuilding the town, more citizens will move in and bring new “blueprints” of public buildings as well, such as a marketplace, coffee shop, and museum. One of the unique things about Littlewood is that you can move buildings, roads, trees, and even the ground itself wherever you want in your town, leading to a lot of creative possibilities. I personally found this part to be the most engaging, and spent at least an hour designing the town to be exactly how I wanted it to be.
Much like other games in the genre, constructing this town and all of its buildings and decorations costs resources, which can be gathered or purchased from a local general store. Early in the game, you unlock a hot air balloon that will let you travel to the “Eternal Forest” and “Dust Cave,” where you can gather wood and stone, respectively. Each of these locations are pretty standard, with no real challenge or difficulty involved other than deciding how much stamina you want to use up gathering the resources. Similarly just as simple are the farming mechanics, which simply involve planting a vegetable on soil and gathering it when it sprouts. There is a decent variety of different activities to do, and while none of them are particularly in-depth as of now, I am confident that in time they will become more detailed with future updates.
Another one of the main draws, like Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley, is the townsfolk in the game. Sean Young has spent a lot of time writing these many characters to be fun and quirky individuals with distinct personalities – something that made Stardew’s characters so darn memorable. I greatly enjoyed reading the dialogue, particularly Lilith’s – a young witch who doesn’t have control of her powers. I did hit instances of placeholder dialogue, particularly with the “flirting” mechanic that has yet to be added, so I am definitely excited to see what is developed in the future for them and to see how they evolve as you get closer with them over time.
Honestly, if I had to complain about Littlewood in its current state, it would be that it is really quite simple. I know that that is kind of the “point” of the game, but I am worried that some of the mechanics are just too mundane for their own good, to the point that there isn’t a challenge or risk/reward potential. There are quests to complete for your townsfolk, but they often just provide monetary rewards, and again don’t offer much incentive to go out of your way to do. But again, this game is still in early access and will most likely have many of these things ironed out in time.
Overall, I had a good time with my six or so hours that I spent in Littlewood! Is this the next Stardew Valley? Not yet. Could it be? Honestly, quite possibly. In its current state, Littlewood seems to have it’s fundamentals down pretty well. What it really needs now is what it is getting, people playing the early-access and giving solid advice on what can be improved/ expanded upon. It seems like every week, Sean Young is dropping massive updates with bug fixes, gameplay changes, and new content. At this rate, I have no doubts at all that it will be a big hit when it finally reaches version 1.0, but for now, it just needs that extra time and help to get there.
Note: Littlewood is currently available as “Early Access” on Steam at an MSRP of $14.99. There are plans to release it on Nintendo Switch once the game leaves “Early Access” and makes a full release.