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Button City review: an adorable little adventure

Worth stopping by

Ask the internet what cities you absolutely must visit and it'll suggest somewhere like Tokyo, or Rome, or The Big Apple. Hey, no mention of Button City, though? A crime. I spent a few hours there with some animal friends and it was extremely pleasant. If you're after a place to wind down for a bit, I'd recommend stopping by.

Button City's an adventure game about a small community of low-poly animals, each named after herbs and spices. You play as a shy fox called Fennel (pairs well with seafood), who moves into the area and finds that its heart lies in the local arcade. This is where all the cool cats and raccoons and dogs play Gobabots, the hit strategy game that's sort of like a baby's first MOBA. More on this in a bit.

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Two teams rule Button City's Gobabots scene: the Fluff Squad and the Tuff Fluffs. Both of which hate each other's guts. Turns out the Fluff Squad need a fourth in their quest to become the local champs, so you join their ranks, and get swept along in a journey that swiftly becomes more than just about competition.

Now, I don't want to get into spoiler territory, as Button City's driven entirely by its story. Let's just say that the business bigwig who tries to close the arcade clearly doesn't know what's about to hit him. It's a plot that's predictably about the power of friendship, but it's self-awareness saves it from being corny. Splashes of humour keep things light and it touches on serious topics with surprising maturity. For instance, one of your pals Chive helps his confused grandfather navigate his way back to the living room, then quickly explains that their health has been deteriorating for a while. There's no big deal made of the situation; it's a part of his daily routine. Rather than dragging it out into a deep, cheesy substory, the restraint shown here pushes the issue into the foreground in a more meaningful way.

A look at Button City's cafe in diorama view.
I'd pay good money for slices of Button City's diorama world I could either slap on my desk, or build like a tower in my room.

Chive is a member of the Fluff Squad, along with Sorrell, and Lavender, all of whom are great to hang around with. Chive's a dry-humoured tech-wiz of a rabbit, while Lavender's a bubbly, arty panda who likes cosplaying as a robot. Sorrell's the leader of the group and a cat who loves doing yoga to metal music. Everyone's a character and it's a genuine joy getting to know them all as you flit all over Button City.

And this is made easy by Button City's diorama setup. At the press of a button, the world splits into layers you can flick through and rotate. Once you've settled on where you want to go, just press the button again and you'll teleport straight there. As you progress through the story, you'll unlock more places like a supermarket, friends' houses, and downtown areas. One of my favourite spots was the colourful cafe area, which was home to a pretentious raccoon called Oregano (pairs well with garlic) who rambled about the power of his soy cappuccino. They're adorable little places home to interesting characters you'll revisit often when you're out questing.

If Button City is driven by its story, then these quests are the daisy-scented petrol. Many of them are simple affairs, which mainly see you fetching stuff for friends. Early on the game weaves in some variety with fun scenarios, like one where you're racing to make lemonade by timing button-presses to chop lemons, squeeze them, and finally pour them into glasses as your paw sways to and fro. Unfortunately, these vanish as the story nears its conclusion which makes things a bit tedious as you reluctantly transform into Button City's post mammal and deliver parcels.

The Fluff Squad and the Tuff Fluffs gasp in surprise in Button City's arcade.
I do wonder which mixture of herbs and spices would taste better? Left or right?

There's some light side-questing that helps to break up the monotony a bit. As per, many of Button City's residents ask you to grab them something, but some end up actually being quite nice little stories. I helped two neighbours get to know one-another by knocking on their doors and exchanging letters. But if you'd rather not do the whole Good Samaritan thing, you've got a couple more self-indulgent options. Head down to the arcade and you'll find two playable mini-games aside from Gobabots: a racing one and a rhythm one. Unfortunately, throwing your car about is a janky, weightless affair, while the rhythm mini-game is so difficult I just couldn't keep up, no matter how hard I tried.

Still, it doesn't matter if you bounce off these mini-games as everything in Button City revolves around Gobabots, a light-hearted riff on esports that's a bit like Pokémon meets League Of Legends. Speak to most residents and you can challenge them to a match, with a similar energy to Geralt bugging literally everyone for a game of Gwent in The Witcher.

Three Gobabots race towards the blender in Button City.
Each Gobabot has a basic attack and special move. Here, I'm controlling a bot called Pinearang that lobs boomerangs and can encase themselves in a spinny shield of fruit.

But Gobabots isn't like Gwent, oh no. In it, you control a fruit-themed Transformer with a hint of Funko Pop that can swing a sword or shoot a laser. Your ultimate aim? To hit trees, collect their Gobaberries, and wham 'em into the blender in the center of the map. It's very simplistic but moreish, with moments of genuine tension as you scrap over blender real estate.

Win fights and you'll often earn Pal Points, which can be spent in the arcade on new Gobabots. There's quite a wide selection, each with their own unique moves and special attacks. Although the collectathon's entirely optional, as you'll only pilot one Gobabot throughout the main story anyway. Some might see this as a bit naff, but for a short game that's a chill time, I like that it doesn't force you to grind anything out.

And that's Button City, really. Some of its mini-games might lack depth, and it might send you on quite a few monotonous fetch quests, but they're no biggie. Just like how everyone flings fruit into the same blender in Gobabots, this is a sweet little game about coming together as a community, and when it comes time to pack your bags, you'll be glad you visited.

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