More than a little good
What happens when the war is over? The fighting is done, the dust is settling, the big eagles have carried you home. What comes next? That is the question Littlewood seeks to explore as a charming RPG/management sim, developed by Sean Young.
You begin the game as the unnamed hero of Solemn, and your story begins in an unnamed town. Once you’ve named both, the aim of the game is to rebuild a settlement that has been absolutely Gannon’d by an evil wizard.
The game takes place one day at a time, and every action you do in-game – such as chopping trees or mining ores – progresses each day a little more. This sounds quite stressful as a concept, but the game is quite accommodating. It lets you get to work straight away, building houses for fellow town residents, placing shops, and adjusting the landscape to suit your tastes. It follows the same rules as Stardew Valley, but I honestly found it a lot easier to get to grips with than Stardew.
Solemn also has other locations you can visit that are filled with building resources and the occasional treat, such as an enchanted forest and a series of mines. The locations regenerate each day, so you can pop back and collect resources easily.
The crafting systems are simple too; which makes expanding your town a breeze. Each of your villagers has a nice checklist of stuff that they want for their post-war crib, so you can have some neuron-smoothing fun popping to the shop every morning and hoping it has an item you need. I love a list, so I found the low-effort grind incredibly satisfying.
The RPG element comes into play as you build relationships with various characters. Talking to them every day, hanging out with them and fulfilling their wants will make them like you, and eventually, you’ll be able to romance them. You can also build skills in other areas; mining, farming, even cooking. The tavern in your town lets you cook recipes in exchange for money, and mixing different ingredients lets you unlock more as you go.
While the game is simple with what it presents, it rarely feels tedious. It takes a little longer to find some resources for building; you’re not going to have a bustling town overnight, but nothing is placed behind an impenetrable barrier. There’s no pressure to roll out of bed and bash through a load of tasks, but the checklists dotted around your town make for busy days. The game doesn’t overwhelm you with stuff for the sake of having lots of stuff, but there’s enough to pick at laid out in an unobtrusive way.
Littlewood is an unambitious RPG with unexpected depth. It draws clear inspiration from games of its ilk but offers a simplified experience that is accessible and unpatronising. While it is incredibly similar to Stardew Valley, it doesn’t dress up and pretend to be Stardew Valley. It’s separate, it’s smaller, and it’s simple. If you’re craving a low-energy grind brimming with kind but its simulation siblings feel too grandiose, Littlewood might be the compact experience you need.