Review | Button City
Subliminal’s Button City is a colorful, nostalgic narrative centered around the power of friendship. Players enter the world as Fennel, a young fox who has only recently moved to the titular Button City, spending the whole summer without making any friends. While running an errand for his mother, Fennel meets the Fluff Squad, a ragtag trio of local kids with a single mission: to defeat the Tuff Fluffs at Gobabots, the arcade’s most popular game. Upon defeating the Tuff Fluffs, Fennel is officially initiated as the Fluff Squad’s newest member. As he slowly begins to settle into his new life in Button City, he and his newfound friends become caught up in their newest challenge: saving the local arcade from the paws of Peppermint Pepperbottom!
Button City’s play style is simple and straightforward. You’ll move Fennel from point A to point B whilst chatting with the locals. As the game progresses and Fennel meets more residents, players unlock various fetch quests. With these quests, he’ll gain access to the deeper backstories of Button City’s fluffy friends to move the story forward. But what sets this game apart from other narrative-driven games is the use of minigames to guide the plot. With the game being themed around an arcade, having a few minigames makes perfect sense.
You’ll have several arcade minigames to participate in: Gobabots, rEVolution Racer, and Prisma Beats. Gobabots is the most popular arcade game, and is at the center of Button City’s tournament arc. Two teams of four battle it out in space to make the biggest smoothie. Each Gobabot is also an overworld collectable, allowing players to experiment with different attack styles.
The next game, rEVolution Racer, offers a softer touch to the nostalgic racing arcade games we’re all familiar with. As you race through Watermelon Mountain as Evie, you’ll use well-timed boosts to move your way past the competition. Finally, Prisma Beats offers a rhythm dance game for everyone. With catchy tunes and colorful visuals, those who play this one will be in for a treat.
Elementally, the game feels nostalgic of older quest games with a soft and almost fantastical touch. Think the aesthetics of Animal Crossing and Steven Universe with the personality of Stardew Valley. The world is built on a series of square platforms, moving your way up and down through Button City. Each layer is a new area of the game with much to explore. The game’s visuals are also pretty easy on the eyes. Using a soft color palette and a low-poly art style, players are whisked into the world of Button City with ease.
Character dialogue is just as quirky as the game looks, with the fluffy locals spewing out timeless dialogue to make players of any age chuckle as they move through the plot. The soundtrack of Button City is by far the shiniest star of the entire game. Each new area and situation punctuates itself with a soundscape that completely immerses players, environmentally and emotionally. Players will constantly find themselves celebrating in the wins of the Fluff Squad, whilst also sympathizing with other characters as the game progresses.
Overall, Button City is comforting and reminiscent of a fresh, early 2000s summer afternoon: no responsibilities and no worries. Just a pocket full of quarters and a curfew. Visit Button City and escape to a land where friendship is the true winner.