Button City is about friendships, growing up, and protecting things and people that are important to you. Through some lovely low-poly visuals, charming music, and a well written, relatable story, Subliminal have nailed that sense of youthful joy that even an old fogie like me can still (just about) recall. It’s an enjoyable adventure, and one that makes for a nice change of pace.
We play as Fennel, a young fox who has recently moved with their mother to a new town; a super sweet collection of dioramas that house various locations like the Mart Mart, Playground, and Arcade. It’s this Arcade – Button City – that is the main focus of the adventure. Fennel meets a group of friends there that invite him to join in a competition on a game called Gobabots, and it’s from here that we follow the trials and tribulations of not only this competition, but also the group’s rivalry with other players, and their effort to save the arcade from shutting down.
Each of the characters are charmingly written, and often funny, heartfelt, and sweet. As we get to know each of the Fluff Squad and the friendships mature I genuinely found myself caring for what was going on with each of them. Even some of the tertiary characters had me grinning and getting invested, while the random NPC’s in some areas are good for little pop culture references or easter eggs. Even when things get a little heavy later on there is still a breezy charm to the interactions that help lessen the blow, and by the time we get to the end I felt better for having spent time in Button City.
In between getting to know the characters there are various games to play in the arcade. The main one is the aforementioned Gobabots; a 4v4 battler in which the winning team is the one that has collected the most berries within the time limit. There are around a dozen Gobobots to collect throughout the game, each with different stats and attacks. We can join the main story challenges to win the fabled Golden Gobabot, but can also challenge a number of others to matches around the town to win the Pal Points required to buy new Bots. It’s a surprisingly fun little arcade battler that’s nestled in between exploring the town and talking to others, though not exactly challenging – but then, it’s more about having fun in the interactions that winning really.
Other than Gobabots there is Dance Dance Revolution-style Prisma Beats, and an arcade racer – rEVolution racer. The latter is a simple speed race against one other player that is merely a case of holding down accelerate and drive at the same time for a minute and a half. Some light, fluffy handling means we can get around corners without much hassle, and you’d really have to go some to lose here, but again it’s about just having fun as part of the story. One side mission has us acting as a mediator between two rivals on rEVolution racer, eventually setting and beating each of their times to spur them on.
Prisma Beats on the other hand is rock hard rhythm game action. I’m usually fairly competent at these sorts of games but the way the beat track and button choices are lined up didn’t gel with me. I nearly finished one song, but the rest were waaaayyyyy too hard. It’s easily the hardest part of Button City, but thankfully entirely optional.
There are a fair few optional side missions to complete here as well, and once the main story is done we can go back to clear these up at our leisure. It’s another neat touch from Subliminal, and one that enhances the chill vibe the game emits throughout. It can be a little too chill at times, with a lot of back tracking at a leisurely pace, but at only around 5 hours long it doesn’t quite ever get too repetitive so much so that it annoys. In fact, I quite fancy the idea of heading back in every now and then to do a side mission or two in between other, more intense experiences.
Button City is the epitome of chill. Even when the tales touch on heavier subjects, it’s both handled sensitively while also never really getting us down. A great way to spend a few evenings, you’ll leave Button City having made a bunch of really cute new friends!Become a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox Series X/S. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.