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Game Info:

Woodle Tree 2: Worlds
Developed by: Fabio Ferrara
Published by: Chubby Pixel
Release date: September 16, 2016
Available on: Windows, macOS, Linux
Genre: Open World Platformer
Number of players: 1-4 (local or online co-op)
Price: $3.99

Thank you, Chubby Pixel, for sending us a review key!

When a dark force sucks the life and water from the trees in the center of the Wood Lands, a sentient tree stump must become a hero. Alone or with friends, the player guides the stump from snow-capped mountains to sandy islands, from the desert to the lagoon. With little more than a leaf and a double jump, the stump collects small drops of water scattered throughout the game's eight zones. This is not a technically impressive game, nor an especially long one. Nevertheless, for all its simplicity (and, in many cases, thanks to it), Woodle Tree 2: Worlds provides one of the most kid-friendly 3D platforming experiences available.

Since an open world is a major change from Woodle Tree Adventures, let's start there. The central hub at which the player begins is laid out like the spokes of a wheel, eight trees pointing the directions to different game areas in all corners of the map. In addition to the zones listed above, there are forests, caves, a mountaintop town, canyons, and hills. The world is truly open to exploration, and there are pleasant meadows, rivers, and animal villages wherever the player wanders. Only loading divides the different areas. Frequently there are dark zones overrun with black goo and enemies. Sometimes these protect cosmetic unlockables. Unfortunately, as with the rest of the game world, other times they protect absolutely nothing. The fun flora and fauna of the world make for a nice walk to the main areas, but there is little reason to stay and the graphics do not give much to gawk at. On the other hand, the game shows an impressive amount of distance. After clearing the mountaintop village, I glided off the highest point I could. As I floated back to the center hub, I could see well into several other zones. It was a good view.

Woodle Tree 2: Worlds
Highlights:

Strong Points: Varied terrain means varied platforming; the core gameplay of jumping and gliding scales well to player ability
Weak Points: Repetitive and bland graphical textures; imprecise combat hinders rather than compliments platforming; camera angle is too restricted; much of the world feels empty
Moral Warnings: Your character shrinks and disappears if it takes too much damage

The play areas are colored as well as the plain graphical assets allow. They are more subtly distinguished once you start jumping around. At one end of the map you have to navigate ledges carefully to activate the wooden platform equivalent of a ski lift. Elsewhere you have to dive underwater to find a well-hidden water drop. Trampoline mushrooms, booster flowers, and updrafts lend more variety. These little changes in play mix up the whole experience. The level design consistently and pleasantly surprised me.

The game often uses yellow brick roads to guide the players who might be too young to appreciate that reference. Collectable berries trace walking and jumping paths. In addition, water drops in your current zone are visible as far as the map can render at once. Combined with the already-impressive draw distance, this ensures that, if you take a look around, you can find a water drop on the horizon and start heading for it. The player will get lost from time to time, and the game will bring him back to the right path. All in all, it is easy to move around the map.

The basic mechanics are forgiving of inexperienced players. The leaf your stump carries is used to carry water, swat switches or enemies, and glide. This last mechanic provides an unlimited slowed fall, letting the player recover from missed jumps. The water and switches grow/raise platforms and open bridges. Combined with the open world, jumping's versatility furnishes multiple paths through the game world. A cautious player might hop and dodge to a switch in order to lower a door, and a more experienced player might time jumps to avoid the door completely. The freedom to approach gaps and blocks from multiple angles kept the game fresh for me, well outside of the target audience. The game lends itself to casual speedrunning. Intentionally or not, it rewards precise play with shortcuts and risk.

Woodle Tree 2: Worlds
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 70%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 3/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 98%
Violence - 9/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Various animals, friend and enemy, wander the landscape. Dark dots and other creatures serve as the primary enemies. They usually send the player back to a checkpoint after one or two hits--the same number of leaf whacks needed to turn most of them into puffs of smoke. This is the only potential moral concern; games do not get much more family-friendly than Woodle Tree 2. Combat is cumbersome because it is difficult to aim the leaf. The camera does not help matters; it stays close to the player avatar at all times and cannot be panned far up or down. In a move unforgivable in every 3D game since Ocarina of Time, there is no button to reorient the camera behind the character. You usually have plenty of time to move the camera; it's those times that you don't that enemies will be able to reach you.

The visuals are bland, and the sound is only slightly less so. The collectible masks and leafs are fun while adding little to the experience. The occasional loading or clipping glitch crashed the game. These hiccups ended play sessions and didn't detract from the game much. I did not get to try co-op; however, I feel confident saying that the level design does not encourage multiplayer play. I suspect that after a second player helps you hit a switch to activate a platform, he would just be dead weight who has to wait for the sliding platform to come back down so he can take it up. There is no intrinsic reason to bring along friends for the adventure.

I enjoyed Woodle Tree 2: Worlds much more than I expected to. The plain world is fun to bounce around in, and the levels are well-constructed. For every time the world disappointed me with an empty dead end, it surprised me with a secret area or interesting new concept. Would I recommend buying it? Probably not for yourself if you are old enough to be reading this review. At the same time, if you buy this game for a youngster who, for one reason or another, doesn't engage with it, try it out yourself. This soothing game might bring a smile to your face.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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