Little Cities

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Little Cities review
William Thompson


Sim City in VR

City Tycoon

I have always enjoyed city building games. For me, they incorporate my childhood love of building small towns from Lego as well as the more adult pleasure of ensuring that the city turns a profit whilst still ensuring that the residents are satisfied. The original Sim City scratched that itch, and then came along a range of Tycoon games such as Railroad Tycoon, Theme Park, and Rollercoaster Tycoon that had me scratching so many itches that it felt like a case of Eczema. But like many genres, oversaturation can be a problem, and the city-building and management style of game somewhat sizzled out.

But when new gaming technology emerges, there are always those developers that go back to the old favourites, and this seems to be the case with Purple Yonder's title, Little Cities - a VR experience whereby players create their cities on a series of islands in true Sim City style.

Laying the foundations

If you have ever played Sim City or the abundance of clones out there, Little Cities will immediately seem very familiar. Playing the role of the town planner, players build roads, zone areas for residential, commercial, or industrial construction, build power plants and water storages, and then place special buildings to keep the populace safe and happy. All in a full 360-degree field of view.

Whilst managing a city could be somewhat hectic, Little Cities takes a more serene route, slowly introducing new structures as players gradually increase the city population. Upon reaching population milestones, new feature buildings are unlocked for your cities. Civic buildings such as police Stations, fire stations, hospitals and schools ensure that the populace remains satisfied. Keeping the locals happy is reasonably simple for the most part, as long as the residential zones are separated from the industrial zones.

More recent versions of the Sim City enabled players to curve roads and design fancier cities, but Little Cities goes down the square block design of the original and keeping things simple in the process. Roads will either be set in a north-south or east-west format, and all zones and buildings will fit in a square or rectangular area.

Keeping it simple

And whereas man city-builders have a large focus on balance between finances and keeping the residents satisfied, Little Cities takes a more relaxed approach to the monetary aspect of the city management. If you're into scanning through spreadsheets to find a way to cut a few expenses, then you'll be slightly disappointed by the lack of financial know-how required. Of course, this opens up the game to a younger demographic just wanting to build their city in a somewhat sandbox style environment.

Everything in Little Cities is at your virtual fingertips – or should I say, on your smartwatch. By default, your virtual smartwatch displays the current week, but with a few quick taps of the watch, players can access all the various buildings and utilities that they have currently unlocked. Placing roads is probably the most difficult part of the construction process in Little Cities, and even that is child's play.

As mentioned, players will gain new city features as they progress, but once they reach certain levels of population, players will also be able to access new islands on which they can start construction. Each island has special features or hazards of their own – such as a volcano - which allows the game to remain fresh, even when you’re basically replaying the game for each island.

The sights and sounds of a bustling metropolis

Although the game has somewhat of a cartoon city aesthetic, there are some wonderful features that have been incorporated into the VR title. Players can zoom out so that their island town is a small speck in the sea but can also zoom in to hover over a vehicle travelling the streets of your semi-bustling town. And it is not just within the city that these cool aspects occur. Nice little touches of whales swimming in the ocean that you can zoom in on, as well as aircraft flying by and hot air balloons floating over the city. There are times when you’re waiting for the populace to increase so that you can level up and gain the next building, so having these little touches gives players something to do during these ‘waiting’ phases.

There are other animations that indicate that the city is alive. Police cars will occasionally head out with their flashing lights, but there doesn’t seem to be any indication that something is wrong. At least when the fire brigade head out, players can see the fire that they are going to attend. But it is these small visual aspects that will have players regularly zooming in to their cities to see what it going on.

Relaxed city building

Little Cities makes wonderful use of the VR features and results in a fun and relaxing city builder. With the lack of detail in the financial side of city management, Little Cities is accessible to a younger audience, but will still appeal to the older crowd looking to reminisce about early city building games. Indeed, Little Cities is a game that isn’t in a hurry. The island towns are set in idyllic locations - although some of the later levels have some natural hazards – and there is a sense that the locals should be sitting in hammocks drinking cocktails out of a coconut shell. With a simple UI that has everything readily available at the touch of your fingertips, and the ability to view your city in 3D from any angle, Little Cities is a joy to play.

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fun score


Simple controls, and great use of the 360-degree views of the VR


Basic finances, simple layouts