NS Review – Woodle Tree Adventures Deluxe (Switch)

Woodle Tree Adventures Deluxe is a port of the similarly titled 2014 game; Woodle Tree Adventures. The game is intended to bring back the feel of old school platformers and does a fairly decent job of it, the visuals and world designs being some of the strongest features. You play as Woodle, an adorable tree creature armed with a backpack and a leaf, collecting berries to unlock powerups, new worlds, and restore hydration to your universe by finding 3 tears in each stage.


because life is hard, kiddo

The best thing this game has going for it are the looks. Each stage has an interesting tone, varying from woodlands, to honeycombs, to ice, and beaches. Woodle is absolutely precious and I would gladly spend a questionable amount of money on some kind of small merchandise of it (preferably a keychain). On PC the backpack expands when collecting berries but my entire time playing to completion this never happened to me and instead it remained a strange sphere on my back, locked into what seemed to be its own dimension that obeyed completely different laws of physics. Your main weapon; the leaf, changes in color and gives off different effects as you upgrade it, but the upgrades are barely noticeable and beyond the projectile powerup I’m honestly not sure if there’s any value in each upgrade- especially as you don’t even need the projectile due to the nature of the enemies in the game. The stages are the next most impressive part of this game. Each one was interesting enough, building length and complexity as you progressed. The blocky style and environments sold the 90’s platformer homage well, with many levels being reminiscent of my PS1 days. There are a handful of exploits where a player can walk off an edge but the game still counts the thin air as a platform, even being able to run and jump from it normally, and the overhang on some stages protrudes too much ending in it being a hassle when you knock your head on it for no good reason. There’s also some agonising momentum issues where if you get too close to an edge the game will insist on locking you into a run and plunging you to your death- no matter how quickly you turned back, or pressed jump.

The user-interface, or lack of, needs some work. Already the game has serious issues with clarity and this was another factor. The pause menu was informative but the game could have benefit from an in-level tracker as you collect berries and powerups to drive home the importance of those items. You have immense control over the camera- but inwoddle 01 all the wrong ways. The hub world could have been less barren with new worlds sitting atop unique pedestals similar to the ones that house powerups, instead of cluttering the house. There could have been more emphasis on the value of unlocking newer worlds and collecting items to incentivize the player and make them feel accomplished once they had progressed. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the checkpoint system, with the game not telling you when you’ve hit one, respawning you to your insta-death then choosing another checkpoint to drop you off at, or just flip-flopping between them and randomizing which one you respawn from. If you can’t be bothered to backtrack then you just walk into an enemy, or run off the edge and return to the start, as the game doesn’t punish you much for dying.

The character designs are interesting to say the least. If the tree at the beginning wasn’t inspired by the Deku Tree from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time I’ll eat some toilet roll. Each of the NPCs are…fascinating in both visuals and function. Every enemy will instantly kill you upon touching it, sending you back to whichever checkpoint the game decides to put you at, yet almost no enemy is a true threat. Each one stands off to the side somewhere, but a small handful of enemies in total truly obstruct your path. Sometimes an enemy will throw a projectile at you with no warning, killing you instantly, sometimes one will charge once you get too close, but mostly they just exist not really doing anything (like me). The difference between a passive NPC and an enemy is barely existent (I’d hazard a guess and say completely non-existent) with harmless caterpillars, turtles, and some kind of strange box creature bearing no harm on the player character. After the game had taught me I needed to be ruthless and attack everything first lest I die and lose progress, one of the strange box creatures complained I struck it and then kept that text box above its own head for the rest of the level.

The sound design is a real head scratcher. None of the music particularly stood out, but it was always there in the background, not blending in well enough for me to not be affected, but never sounding clear enough to really make out a tune. The music in the first level had me feeling like I was doing something wrong- like I was close to peril (which I guess I was, given I found out the hard way enemies just one-shot you). Overall it sounded like there was a clear intention with what should have been portrayed with each track, but the game never quite managed to do so. Sound effects play a bit too loudly compared to the rest of the audio; every berry collected chimes a dissonant pang in varying pitches, the end of the level gives you a quick few notes that don’t really convey much, and exiting the pause menu gives you a sound very similar to a default iOS tone.

There’s a lot to be said about the mechanics, but most of it I’ve already noted. Momentum is a serious problem with the game literally locking you into your death and running you off the edge. Water is slow and tedious to drag yourself through yet there’s an entire level based around water. The camera randomly zooms and whirls around sending you to your death on a few segments but usually just acts as a sudden jarring visual inconvenience. I can’t think of a single instance where the wind columns actually worked properly, with most of them sending me into a wall or ceiling where I then proceeded to vibrate aggressively until I was shunted out of it onto the floor, or to my death. Using them completely chopped up the flow of the game as you have to approach from a very specific angle and height or you just slowly and sadly droop and, again, plummet to your death. One can argue this game is for children but I don’t think children really appreciate being shoved into walls and vibrating to their deaths either, especially when it’s not their fault. I’m not asking the game to hold my hand or be easy, but I would like it to consistent with its own design and rules, and not punish players for kinks that should have been ironed out during the testing phase.

All the building blocks are there, but Woodle Tree Adventures Deluxe has some polishing to do before it feels like a completed game. The audio needs some balancing and the music needs a little more charm to it. The level designs have some sturdy building blocks to start with, but collision needs tweaking, in-game paths shouldn’t trick me into my death, and the entire thing could benefit from some lighting improvements. The textures have an adorable Animal Crossing x Wind Waker feel to them that I think could really drive home the unique style of the game were the visuals to be improved. Mechanically, the momentum needs to be fixed, and there should be greater emphasis on the value of core aspects of the gameplay- such as collectables. Woodle is a solid little protagonist and fits right in with the nostalgic early platforming mascots. The game was created mostly by one person, and in their defense they did very well for a one-man job, it’s just Woodle Tree Adventures hasn’t reached its full potential yet.

Overall Woodle Tree Adventures Deluxe feels like a good-looking Alpha build with serious communication problems. Give it to children to teach them life isn’t fair and will often punish you for things you had no fault in. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful Christmas.

Woodle Tree Adventures Deluxe is out today on Nintendo Switch. Thank you to Chubby Pixel Studios for providing a review copy of this game.

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