It’s hard not to be taken in by the cutesy, bright, low-poly visual style of Button City — a narrative-driven indie adventure that packs plenty of charm, is filled with adorable anthropomorphic animals (think Animal Crossing), and has a surprisingly endearing story.
You play as ‘Fennel’ a young fox that’s new to town and trying to make friends.
After stumbling into an arcade (remember those), you quickly find yourself with a new group of quirky pals, ready to take on a rival team in playing the arcade favourite ‘Gobabots’.
The core gameplay here is notably slow, seemingly by design.
You’re offered a markedly chill experience — not only through the charming aesthetic and leisurely soundtrack (a note on that here), but also by way of pacing and the primary gameplay loop.
Button City’s storyline plays out with you traveling from one locale to the next, speaking to a character here and there to move things forward, with the odd side quest thrown in for good measure. It’s a lot of back and forth, with the bulk of your tasks being to chat to the right folks in the right order to progress.
This almost sedate gameplay is greatly helped along by amusing and endearing writing.
The dialog does a really good job of packing in plenty of detail and colour to make the cutesy animals you’re interacting with actually seem like fleshed out real beings with lives and relatable problems of their own. Having such a rapport and connection with these fluffy friends really comes into its own later in the game when a common enemy emerges.
This laid back pacing of the overall experience will either be seen as a plus in your eyes or as a general point of frustration — I'd say it really depends on how leisurely you like to take things and where your preference lies in terms of the balance between narrative dialog and adventure gameplay.
Sadly, this overall slow tempo isn’t helped by a notably irksome walking speed, and predominantly clunky interactions.
Moving around the world is rather sluggish, and anytime you want to interact with an object your character will readjust themselves to a desired position first — this often resulted in you having to watch a drawn-out animation as your little fox gets in to place.
It’s a minor gripe, but it does add up, and I found it rather tiresome on the whole — it's a pesky niggle that if fixed would be a significant quality of life update.
Beyond the main story, the gameplay gets a welcome dose of variety via the in-game arcade — it’s here where you can play a handful of titles, including a racing game, a rather fast dancing DDR-type, and the aforementioned Gobabots.
These little slices of arcade fun aren’t particularly remarkable, but they offer just enough to mix things up, and are a welcome addition to the main quest. It’s a neat touch how the arcade, and the games within them, are both tied into the story in a meaningful way.
Button City is a leisurely, feel-good, sugary sweet narrative adventure that doesn’t outstay its welcome. You’ll probaly see through the main story in a long afternoon or two, whereas completionist will get a touch more out of it thanks to some collectibles.
I will note that I did hit a few minor bugs during my playthrough — but fixes are said to be on the way, and they generally didn't hamper my experience.
This isn't for everyone, but if such a saccharine sweet experience appeals to you, you’ll find something to like here. It's chill and charming, with a satisfying story that ultimately stands above the core gameplay on offer.