ReviewsReview: Button City

Review: Button City

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Starting a new life can be an exciting time, but most of us feel anxious and concerned. You leave behind friends and you don’t know your surroundings. It can be a lonely time until you find your feet and a small group of mates can make an entire world of difference. Button City is a colourful nod to the 90s that tells a heartwarming story of new experiences, friendship, and battling for what you love.

Developed and published by Wings Interactive and Subliminal, this is a low poly cute adventure game. This take on simple early console titles will tweak at those nostalgia-filled heartstrings. You’ll experience a bizarre story that covers some touching subjects that most gamers will relate to. With excellent and fun arcade titles to master and many bizarre characters to interact with, this has a warm and enjoyable plot to explore.

A unique way to move around the town.

Button City is compact and jam-packed with content.

The bright yet simple world that is your new home is a joy to see. Every area is buzzing with NPCs that need help with an array of quests. You must find items, deliver goods, clean up the rubbish, or pass on messages. None of it is a challenge, but it helps you interact with characters you may otherwise walk past. Each location applies to the plot and doesn’t simply act as a filler. This was a great choice from the developers as it made each area just as important as the last.

As you explore it quickly becomes apparent that the arcade is the soul of Button City. The beating heart of this strange community is where Fennel the fox meets his new friends. With gaming at the forefront of everything they do, they are distraught when their favourite location is about to be shut down. Greedy fat cat Peppermint Pepperbottom can see a chance to make a fortune and he doesn’t care about the local kids and their love of their beloved arcade.

The four friends stop at nothing to thwart his plans and attempt to save enough money to buy the arcade for themselves. Will they succeed, or will the deep pockets of the fat cat stop them?

Can you make beautiful music?

Everyone loves an underdog.

Everyone wants the underdog to win and in Button City, it’s no different. This combined with the great arcade games and community spirit drives you to want to keep playing. The overwhelming sense of fighting for what you love is heartwarming, and I adored how the story was told. The variety of activities was a bonus, even if the difficulty didn’t push me to my limits.

I also enjoyed the PC nature of the plot and how younger players and adults can enjoy the whole game. My children were fascinated by the imagery and fell for the retro charms of the arcade experience. With a relatively short game time of around six hours, it was easy to hold their attention as we played it casually. Each quest tests your memory skill and logical thinking. Clues are freely available so you’ll rarely get stuck which allows you to progress at a nice pace. 

Button City uses pastel tones and comprises a diorama world. 

The core concept was great, but I enjoyed how Button City constructed its colourful world. The adventure didn’t ask you to walk from location to location. Instead, you are transported to each point as you select individual areas that appear as a diorama. It was unusual and made a whacky game more bizarre. The zones vary in size and detail, but they all consist of colourful environments that were pleasant on the eyes. Its inoffensive imagery combined with the PC gameplay made for worry-free gaming from a parents point of view. It was a nice change from the overtones of violence and gore found in many titles. 

Cute life simulation games all have a similar upbeat vibe that makes you smile constantly. Button City will be a guilty pleasure for many players as the synthesised soundtrack matches the childish cartoon graphics. With no acting and all dialogue expressed using text, there was a heavy reliance on music to enhance the atmosphere. Though much of the gameplay is lighthearted, there are moments of drama that are reflected through a change in pace and tone. This level of detail was nice and helped to set the scene without going over the top. 

This is where the fun happens.

Simple controls but slow-paced gameplay. 

Button City is undeniably easy to play. With a basic tutorial explaining the fundamentals, it’s simple to pick up. Fennel walks around without a care in the world, and his meandering may be frustrating for some. The slow-paced gameplay matches the relaxing and calm storyline but appears dragged out. I liked the approach, but it may come across as tedious for some players, which could put them off. 

With no visibility of an achievement list, I’m struggling to say whether there is much replay value. The story is linear even though you are free to complete side quests in any order. Because of this, I’d worry that there is little reason to return once completed as there is little else to do. Luckily, the first playthrough is great, and its price tag makes it good value for money. 

Button City is short, sweet, and very unusual. 

The 90s inspired approach was a brilliant choice from the developers alongside the wonderful diorama world. The story is heartfelt and will resonate with many players. It’s easy to fall for its charming nature and gamers with young families will appreciate the PC approach. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend you to buy it here! Moving to a new place is hard enough, but to have your beloved arcade taken from you is too much. Fight for what you love and show the world, you won’t stand for it. 

SUMMARY

Button City is a heart-warming story about friendship and fighting for what you believe in. With pastel colours and a wholesome soundtrack, you'll fall for its cute charms. Interesting characters and plenty of side quests ensure you will want to keep playing.

+ Nice pastel colours.
+ An interesting and unique world.
+ Lighthearted audio.
+ Family-focussed gameplay.
+ Easy controls.
- It will be too cutesy for some.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation and Mac Q3 2021.)
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: [email protected]
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