Build It and They Will Come
Little Cities (release date May 12th, 2022) puts to bed any doubt that Purple Yonder’s first game, a gentle VR city-builder, can more than carry his weight against other VR titles. Despite its relaxing setting, it can be seen as a benefit that the game doesn’t get swallowed by the complexities of other city builders and is very quick to pick up without holding your hand. It does have a tutorial for the first island, but after a few minutes, you’re off to the races. As you start building your first island city, it is very clear that the game is there to step back and allow the player to explore the gameplay at their own pace and provides an easy environment to get used to the controls and game mechanisms without fear of economic or volcanic collapse.
These game mechanics are taught to the player on a very simple island where the player can plunk down what it has to offer: constructing residential, industrial, and commercial areas connected by roads and by managing the utilities and city services that power their buildings and keep citizens safe and happy. Later on, you will be managing multiple islands and their ecosystems in an archipelago. The key to the game is to be patient, and by leveling up your city and building up your citizen count, you will keep the overall happiness of your city high, and leveling up will unlock new city features and amenities. On your in-game smartwatch, it is very quick to see at a glance what your city needs and there is a helpful hint system that immediately reads out what your city needs most at that time. With triumphant fanfare following the completion of objectives and by leveling up your city, it isn’t until the player starts to explore other islands that the game becomes increasingly more difficult. What players can expect later on is expensive city features such as water parks.
So Who Is This Game For?
I would describe this game in two words: casual and relaxing. If you are coming from a background where you are used to the pressure of a typical city-building game, you might want to reshift your expectations as Little Cities might seem a bit too casual and passive for you. It’s a great game to play here and there between rounds of higher-intensity games. To be a bit more critical, I had high expectations for this game and with its simple mechanics and graphics, it sometimes feels like it was designed by mobile game developers. That isn’t a jab at the game, it just feels more casual than I had personally anticipated. If you’ve ever played SimCity Buildit, the Sim City mobile game on iOS and Android, it is very similar in scope without the annoyance of free-to-play wait timers or pressure to continuously spend money. For me, once I’d grown accustomed to the game and its laissez-faire attitude, it was very easy to fall into this stylish game, and that’s almost perfect.
By the end of the game, I had hoped for a bit more variation in island topology out of its initial release, but I’m very excited to see what they include in future content updates. A large part of Little Cities’ appeal is that the game is slow and relaxing, and reading between the lines, it could be read as the gameplay difficulty being too easy. You’ll definitely need to be patient in this game. But if you are looking for something on the higher end of the difficulty spectrum there are some islands that can be unlocked later on that have added difficulty and more prominent natural disasters.
As someone who frequently has to play VR in a small Guardian space, Little Cities is designed in a way to be accessible to everyone and offers numerous ways to play, Players may sit comfortably or play room-scale, wandering around and leaning in to get a closer look at the environment they’ve built. The simple controls make constructing simple, uncomplicated, and enjoyable, allowing users to unwind and create their most massive masterpieces. There are also various comfort settings to make the game more enjoyable for first-time VR players. There are a few quirks to the controls where I was unsure if it was a game bug or a conflict of hand gestures but I was personally having several issues with the menu system disappearing while trying to select new build options. Not a big issue, simply a small annoyance.
Review Rating: Great job! 👍73/100
We’ll keep an eye out for future content releases and on the new game development team Purple Yonder for more polished games in the future, I’m excited to see what they come up with next!
Store Details, Pricing, and User Reviews
Little Cities is the first game released by nDreams under their Third-Party Publishing Initiative and the first product from UK independent firm Purple Yonder. The game is now available for purchase through the Meta Store for $19.99 USD/$25.51 CAD/£14.99/€19.99 only on Meta Quest and Quest 2 and is built from the ground up specifically for the Quest platform. So far the user reviews have been moderately positive with 83% of the User Scores being 5 Stars The game allows players to develop lovely little cities in gorgeous island locations and grow them from poor villages to booming cities. Little Cities is as much about creative play in a soothing universe as it is about strategy, with a finely designed soundtrack and attractive aesthetics. If City-builders aren’t your thing, maybe check out this week’s top sales on the Meta/Oculus store for something different!
“It’s been an incredible journey to get Little Cities to where it is now,” said James Howard, co-founder of Purple Yonder, along with his wife, Kelly. “We started out development on the game four years ago as a passion project before fulfilling my lifelong dream of starting a games company and making Little Cities our focus. With the help of the amazing team at nDreams over the past year and the brilliant job they’ve done at building excitement for the game, it feels fantastic to get Little Cities into people’s hands. We hope everyone who plays it loves Little Cities as much as we do.”James Howard, co-founder of Purple Yonder
What’s Next for Little Cities?
The development doesn’t stop there. Little Cities will expand in the near future with post-launch updates, the first two of which were just announced. Big Hands in Little Cities, the first update, will be released in June and will allow gamers to better navigate and interact with their cities by adding hand tracking support. The advent of new structures and cosmetic goods in July’s Pretty Little Cities update will swiftly follow.
About nDreams Ltd.
nDreams Ltd. (www.ndreams.com) is a world-leading VR game developer and publisher, combining innovation with excellence. They are the team behind the award-winning Phantom: Covert Ops, the free-roam VR arcade smash Far Cry: Dive Into Insanity and Fracked.
About Purple Yonder
Purple Yonder (www.purpleyonder.com) is a new VR studio, based in Cambridgeshire, UK. Founded by the husband and wife team, James and Kelly Howard, Little Cities is Purple Yonder’s debut game. The studio is committed to creating captivating VR experiences, using their experience of working on AAA and indie titles to deliver compelling gameplay in VR.