If you prefer to game in the lower gears, then there’s a good chance that you’ve already played a Prideful Sloth game. They’re the team behind Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles and Grow: Song of the Evertree, both go-to games for when we want to put on slippers and relax. You can imagine our (gentle) excitement and (muted) joy on hearing that Prideful Sloth’s latest, Go-Go Town!, was available for preview.
Still, some expectation-setting was needed: it’s some time before we get the full Go-Go Town! in our hands. Go-Go Town! has been announced for release in 2024 on Xbox, PlayStation, Switch and PC. As you’d expect, the demo is on the slight and short side, but it still manages to showcase the wistful and meandering direction they are heading in next.
Where Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles took a foraging and exploration direction, and Grow: Song of the Evertree was more into farming and nurturing, Go-Go Town! is focused on city-building. It’s not an altogether new direction for Prideful Sloth, as both of their previous games had you managing and customising a hub, but Go-Go Town! puts it front and centre. You are the mayor, effectively, and the town’s management, resources and prosperity are all on you. The demo we played was short but sold the premise pretty effectively.
We were dumped unceremoniously into a town that had clearly seen better days. Nobody had bothered with a bin or litter-picker, as rubbish was casually strewn about like a poor attempt at decoration. It turns out that we were an employee of TownCo (we’re eager to find out whether this is a benevolent organisation), and the quests quickly appeared on the HUD. It was down to us to get to grips with the core systems so that we could start leveling the whole place up. Or make TownCo a hell of a lot of money.
Following the quest threads, we chainsawed some trees. Man, deforestation should never feel this good. There’s something incredibly satisfying about how Go-Go Town! hands you a chunky chainsaw that dwarfs your character, and lets you speed around a forest. Trees crumble in your wake. We’d worry about the conservation message, if the trees didn’t pop back about fifteen minutes later. Wood gets converted into planks, and planks make buildings.
In the mines, placed cunningly near to the forest, the same loop plays out. We got to hold an intimidatingly large drill (a workplace injury waiting to happen) and then ploughed through rocks like they were made of Utterly Butterly. Go-Go Town! certainly knows how to make resource-gathering feel good on the sticks. The resulting bricks were then used to make buildings, in combination with the planks.
There’s a neat ceremonial ribbon-cutting before a building is complete, and then you can fill them with shops. The shops you build are dependent on the quality of the building, and we tinkered with juice shops, galleries, amusement arcades and noodle restaurants. After installing a worker, you populate their stocks, and it’s here that we began to question things.
Noodles and juices need ingredients (crabs, wheat, cocoa, tomatoes and many more), and you are micromanaging to the level that you are actually delivering the ingredients for every last smoothie and noodle bowl. That’s a level of involvement that we grew a little tired of, if we’re being honest: hyucking it over to the farms and ponds of Go-Go Town!, over and over, to keep the many shops running was, if we’re being honest, a little more high-maintenance than we hoped. But hey: this is a limited and very early demo. We’ll assume the best, and Prideful Sloth will find a way to keep this engaging and not so constantly demanding.
Before long we were done: Go-Go Town!’s demo didn’t last much more than an hour, all told, with a handy list of ‘must-see!’ tasks to keep us moving about the town. But you can see the glimmer of a few potential directions for it.
What we loved most was the nooks and surprises, which has been Prideful Sloth’s forte in their other games. In Go-Go Town!, when you explore a corner of the town, there will undoubtedly be a little something that looks out of place, and tinkering with it will lead to all sorts of Easter Eggs and benefits (a sudden martian was a pleasant surprise). If there’s a way that this sense of constant delight can stretch over a full game’s length, even when the town is – theoretically – quite small, then we can see a whacking great smile constantly stretched across our faces.
There’s a joyful tactility to it all, too. We never lost the sense that we were fiddling with a toy set. Even more so than Animal Crossing, we felt like we were manipulating well-made figurines. And interactions – on the whole – felt great. We’ve already mentioned the bombastic mining and woodcutting, but another favourite is finding a vehicle in the world and being able to commandeer it. Ah, the perks of being mayor. Find a skateboard, trike, van or car, and you can wheel about the city at speed and with a huge dollop of fun. There’s the odd control quirk – taking stock in and out of storage boxes is more laborious than it needs to be – but on the whole Go-Go Town! feels great.
But we have a shopping list of improvements, too. While it’s undoubtedly charming, we don’t see the trademark Prideful Sloth narrative sitting on top. This is a stripped back city-builder, and it hasn’t had the typical reinvention and colour added to it that Prideful Sloth, well, usually take pride in. We suspect that’s to come. We don’t trust that TownCo, for starters.
And we need a better sense of ‘why’? Why are we doing these things? What is our aim? We’re less worried about this one: we’ve got the sense that the city was already built for us, just so the demo made sense, and the demo is truncated because development is early. Taking all these as allowances, we could definitely imagine a better structure and motivation that would keep us playing.
So, indications are positive. Our time with Go-Go Town! was slight and short, but there were enough surprises in the city-building to reassure us that it would be just as charming as Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles and Grow: Song of the Evertree. Now, excuse us while we go buy a drill as big as our body and start running around some mines. Go-Go Town! Has convinced us that it would be a laugh.
Huge thanks go out to Prideful Sloth for allowing us preview access via Steam. Expect to find the full Go-Go Town! Experience hitting Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch and PC in 2024.