I’m not going to waste your time. Button City is amazing. More than amazing even. It’s wholesome, it’s tear-jerkingly beautiful, it’s funny, clever and witty all at the same time, and its gameplay is tremendous. You can keep reading, and I’ll explain all of that and more in full. But frankly, I recommend everyone get out there and pick up a copy of Button City. Because honestly, I can’t think of a better way to spend your time.
“Button City knows exactly when to make you laugh, cry and think, and does so brilliantly every single time.”
Despite Button City being focused around an arcade and its respective mini-games, its strongest selling point is its phenomenal narrative. Woven throughout is an enrapturing sense of childlike wonder. It offers you a poignant yet beautiful glimpse into the reality of an unfathomably complex time. It is commendable that, alongside beyond simply capturing the nostalgia of youth, Button City also offers an insightful view of the difficulties in growing up. That’s not to say that it lacks a sense of humour. It is not even the case that its more wholesome nature veers into the background. In fact, what makes Button City so fantastic is its ability to simultaneously weave these more meaningful and sincere themes with a genuinely funny sense of humour.
A perfect example of this is when you assist Chive in modding an arcade cabinet. Without spoiling too much, Button City carefully intertwines moments of hilarity and fun gameplay with a more in-depth character study and exploration of themes such as dementia, disability and family. It is expertly done, crafted in such a way that the blend feels seamless. Suffice to say, Button City knows exactly when to make you laugh, cry and think. It’s just amazing it does so brilliantly every single time.
“It’s hard to express just how funny the majority of these jokes are.”
I rarely find myself laughing along with a game, but, aside from the recent and brilliant Dodgeball Academia, Button City is one of the few games that has succeeded in making me do so. Button City’s sense of humour adds to the perpetually endearing sense of childishness that permeates throughout the game. It does so in an incredibly succinct way, easing you into its world and tangled complexities in a way that feels reassuring and welcoming. Its script is littered with fun jokes, quips and delightful character traits. They all help elevate the games overall friendly atmosphere and help coalesce its distinctively enchanting sense of tone.
Button City managed to elicit more laughs by using its minimal animations than it did from its expertly crafted writing. Where turning on the spot unnaturally would have been to the detriment of other games, Button City works with its limitations to bring you genuinely hilarious moments. At one point, while you’re keeping watch for Chive, a character in the background slowly turns to face you, having caught you doing something wrong. It’s hard to express just how funny that sight-gag was, or even how brilliantly clever the majority of these jokes are. So, you’ll just have to trust me on this one.
“Button City is a consistent and constant colourful bundle of fun, and its soundtrack only accentuates that.”
Of course, one can’t talk about Button City without addressing its unbelievably gorgeous aesthetic. In my previous preview of the game’s demo, I mentioned that Button City does more with its anthropomorphic characters than Animal Crossing could ever hope to. I still stand by that sentiment. The character designs, coupled with the game’s polygonal visual style, feel incredibly memorable and instantly iconic. They also help solidify the game’s overall sense of cuteness.
Each of the game’s environments are layered on top of one another, like exquisite dioramas for you to explore. They’re packed with intricate details for you to interact with, which makes venturing around each one a treat. Despite being independent of one another, they still manage to come together and create a coherent whole. As you progress, you unlock new locations to visit, and doing so was always a highlight of my experience.
Additionally, the game’s soundtrack is a genuine masterpiece. It perfectly encapsulates the arcade aesthetic, all while succinctly tying the entire experience together. You’ll find that music plays in just about every scene. So, it is fortunate that the tracks are varied enough in both tone and style that it never felt raucously discordant. I rarely want to purchase a game’s soundtrack post-playthrough. But in this case, I truly desire to listen to it on repeat. It immerses one not only within the world of Button City but also within its fantastical sense of childish wonderment. Button City is a consistent and constant colourful bundle of fun, and its soundtrack only accentuates that.
“The mini-games add so much to the world, characters, story and enjoyability of Button City, and make it a truly remarkable experience.”
Ironically, for a game centred entirely around an arcade, Button City’s gameplay feels supplemental. That’s not to say that the gameplay present here isn’t refined, nor fun. In fact, Button City’s gameplay emulates the feeling of being in an arcade to a stunningly phenomenal degree. The three arcade machines present, one of which plays a more significant role in the overall narrative, are genuinely impressive and fun to play. There’s a rhythm game, an arcade racer and an arena battler for you to master and unlock additional content for. Suffice to say, a significant amount of depth has been put into each one.
While the overall gameplay may feel scarce at times, for the most part, it does its job of heightening the overall arcade experience. Collecting new Gobabots and trying desperately to hit even one note in the rhythm game was immensely satisfying. It all offers an additional layer of depth to an otherwise phenomenal game. The mini-games never feel intrusive, more so fun distractions while exploring the narrative further. They add so much to the world, characters, story and enjoyability of Button City, and make it a truly remarkable experience.
“It is a truly nostalgic adventure that both embraces the bold, beautiful and wonderful, and never shys away from the difficult, the complicated and ultimately the life-changing.”
Button City offers an incredibly well-crafted narrative packed full of interesting characters, thought-provoking themes, hilarious jokes and heartwarming moments. Each brilliant moment of Button City, regardless of whether you’re enjoying the story or the game’s fantastic mini-games, is underscored with an incredible soundtrack and an uplifting sense of serenity and euphoria. I cannot recommend this game enough. Playing it felt like reliving my childhood and experiencing both the good and the bad. And that’s the wonderful thing about Button City. It is a truly nostalgic adventure that embraces the bold and the beautiful, while never shying away from the difficult, the complicated and, ultimately, the life-changing.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC, code was provided by the Publisher.