Dark Light

Previously on Littlewood: you’ve defeated the dastard threatening to uproot life as you know it with your trusty sword. You and your friends are triumphant. All is well now, and your purpose as a hero has been fulfilled. So what now?

What follows after your victory is usually the epilogue, or the slew of side quests that were kept away for a later time. Instead, imagine that Cloud Strife ended up with a serious case of amnesia and decided to build an entire town from scratch. Littlewood provides a calming take on the aftermath of the epic boss battle that you usually forego. Developed single-handedly by Sean Young and published by SmashGames, Littlewood takes inspiration from the likes of fellow life-sim indie Stardew Valley and the quarantine-phenomenon Animal Crossing, and provides just the perfect amount of its own flair to set it apart.

It’s a Little World After All

After defeating the Dark Wizard, the world of Solemn is now saved, at the cost of you losing your memory. Once you awaken from your three days of slumber, you’re greeted by Willow, a resident in your soon-to-be town. Along with Willow, there’s the aloof Dalton, whose home you’ve yet to build. 

Slowly but steadily, your town will be home to all sorts of people; a socially awkward wielder of magic, a fashionable feathered friend, and even a gentle yet very strong orc. As the days go by and you build closer friendships, you’ll find out more about their past, and more about who you were as the Hero of Solemn.

While I love my good in-depth narratives, Littlewood’s charmingly simple storyline and it’s abundant cast of characters have my entire heart. I found myself in-game waking up first thing in the morning to check in on the townspeople and shower them all with compliments, a neat mechanic that can help increase your relationship with NPCs. More than that, I looked forward to the other characters interacting with each other in the cutscenes, as they often led to either priceless exchanges or progression with the storyline. 

Littlewood has an incredibly diverse set of characters, so you might find yourself surprised to come across a shiny-eyed talking bee. Might I dare add: the dialogue in this game is hysterical! 

The Little Hero that Wood

Littlewood takes the best bits of its muses and combines them into compelling gameplay. For the most part, the game emphasizes on building your town rather than on farming. The initial portion of your town you start off with is terraformable up to your own will, but there are a few guidelines. As you progress, your townspeople will have requests for how they want their home to be set up, both the interior as well as the location of their house. With more and more NPCs wanting to move in, you’ll gain additional blueprints such as a museum, a town square, and even a quaint coffee shop.

Once you gain the blueprint to the Air Balloon, you’ll be opened to a number of spots to gain materials for crafting, rather than being confined to your town. You can even ask a townsperson to tag along with you in your journey and they’ll help you find hidden extras. Rather than purely relying on an EXP system for unlocking new places, stat boosts, and abilities, Littlewood also requires you to donate items and money. For example, the port city of Deluca was destroyed by the Dark Wizard, but as you restore the city to its former status, you can unlock a pet store, a card shop, and an auction house. 

In terms of combat, there’s practically none at all, befitting as it’s a ‘peaceful RPG.’ Whenever you enter the caverns or the woods, you’ll encounter monsters that can send you tumbling back home with one hit, but there aren’t any repercussions to this such as losing items or any such progress. The only thing you’ll need to keep a check on is your stamina bar, which I found to be both a blessing and a curse from the usual stamina bars out there.

There is no in-game clock to declare that it’s time to go to bed, but rather as your stamina bar depletes towards the end, the sun goes down in Littlewood. A much appreciable deviation from the norm. However, in return, almost everything you do costs stamina! That includes talking to your townspeople. On one particular occasion, after returning exhausted from the mines I struck up a conversation with Dalton, and ended up passing out right after giving him a compliment. Not exactly the most attractive thing to do, but I suppose there ought to remain some challenge in life after saving the world.

Slice of Paradise

Pixel art is something I’m incredibly weak in the knees for, and Littlewood’s clean top-down approach to it checks every box for me. Accompanied by its soothing soundtrack, it’s the perfect game to play to wind down after a long day.

Not to mention, it fits right at home on the Switch being an indie of such high calibre. It’s ridiculously fast load times are a definite plus as well. While Littlewood would seem like the perfect multiplayer experience, the lack of it certainly doesn’t take away anything from the game. Surprisingly, it also makes use of the Switch’s touch screen in handheld mode, albeit not in a significant way, but it’s a welcome addition as there are even first party titles that neglect the Switch’s touch compatibility.

If I really had to nitpick about something, it would be perhaps the game’s control scheme, as there’s no way to map the buttons according to your convenience. Furthermore, when using build mode to terraform, it can get a bit tedious to go back and forth in the menu when there could be much better ways to attribute certain tools to buttons, as there are plenty of them which aren’t being used in the controls.

Pixel Perfect

Throughout my experience playing Littlewood, I had nothing but a smile on my face while planning out my town and casting a line out for some fish. There’s a ton of content and terraforming to look forward to at the modest price of $14.99 on the Nintendo eShop. If you’re looking for a relaxing RPG without the stress of scares and encounters, Littlewood is the perfect game to escape into and build your worries away.  

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