Woodle Tree Adventures Deluxe originally released on PC in June 2014 without the “Deluxe” moniker. The game has been reworked with additions before releasing for the Nintendo Switch on December 21, 2017 in North America and December 23 in Europe. With this new version, two additional worlds were added bringing the total to eight worlds. The graphics were also stated to be improved along with a stable 60 frames per second, as well as additional camera improvements, enhanced jumping mechanics, new items and clothing to unlock. Now with these stated additions, the price of the game increased from $2.99 on Steam to $4.99 on the Switch.
Playing with plants
The game begins quickly due to not having a true splash screen: just a camera scripted to move around a level you never get to explore much and “Start” text on-screen. You play as Woodle the tree, tasked by your elderly tree creator to traverse the worlds of the game to collect the three fairy’s tears in each level. Armed with only your trusty leaf as a weapon and a knapsack to keep your berries, you run and jump your way through the 3D platforming levels, searching for these fairy’s tears. Unfortunately they are all easily found without too much straying from the path. Along the way you collect berries which allow you to unlock various upgraded leaves, new levels, and a cosmetic-only costume item for Woodle to wear.
Your hub world is a small area with Woodle’s tree home in the center, which seems a little creepy considering he is a tree himself (itself?). Outside of the home, you can see a floating berry displaying your current total of collected berries from all levels. All the unlockables are also around the outside of the home, making you want to collect more to unlock and use them. After the six main levels, the credits roll with you still controlling Woodle. I have to give the developers credit for this as credits can sometimes be a boring experience for many, so having something to do, even so trivial, is nice to see. Two bonus levels are unlocked when you have collected 500 and 600 berries, respectively.
Needs some nutrients
Control-wise, Woodle needs a little more time in the ground before being repotted. The control stick moves Woodle around with a button for jumping. There is also a run button, but it was not obvious to me until I discovered its existence entirely by accident, struggling a bit with the very slow walking speed that’s even slower in water. Interestingly, even using the run button, continuously jumping results in faster movement overall, which I took advantage of often.
Your camera control is limited as well. Your view is fixed and will change when needed, which can be fairly jarring, reminiscent of the camera angles from the original Resident Evil games. You are able to zoom in and out though, but it hardly ever needs to be changed once you have it set to your preferred distance from the action. The camera will also break after going inside huts that exist for whatever reason in the level, focusing too low on Woodle and with no control other than zoom. There is no way to fix it other than death which resets the camera. Even the options menu is bare, only having the option to delete your progression.
A green thumb would help
Woodle does have his leaf to defend himself against the various, seemingly random enemies that are in your way. They do not put up much of a fight, if any. The only difficulty is making sure you have aimed correctly and have the hitbox of the leaf make contact with the enemy. The majority of my deaths in the game were due to misjudging this: the enemy killing Woodle, but the enemy still falling victim to the attack unceremoniously, with barely a sound or effect to signify it other than disappearing. The sound effects that do occur for an enemy’s defeat are very out of place. With the game focused on jumping and these enemies, it would seem there should be more polish in the area.
After death, you are placed back at the beginning of the level, with no effects or anything to differentiate between that and starting the level in the first place. There does seem to be some kind of checkpoint system in place, but it is horribly broken with no indication you have triggered one. I even exploited this by using it as a sort of fast travel in some levels where there was a form of backtracking to a common area. Continuing the lack of effects, ending a level is also very abrupt with only a slight musical melody before placing you back in the hub world. It feels like more could have been done here to have a short cutscene or an audio reward for level completion.Traveling to the various worlds from the hub is very simple as well: just hit an unlocked globe with your leaf. Completion unlocks each additional level, but there is no indication of where to find the new level globe. There are no level names or numbers either to help differentiate, only a texture of that level on the globe.
Plants love music
Musical scores for levels are varied but there is nothing special about them. Specifically in the beach level, the music does not fit the feel of the level at all. It was very repetitive and you are even able to clearly make out where the loop ends and begins again, not being seamless in the least. No music truly fits any of the levels and is always just there; easily substituting one for another doesn’t seem like it would make a difference in the least. Other audio in the game is very minimal with no sound for Woodle’s steps and minimal noises for leaf attacks and enemies. Improvements to the music and audio would be welcomed to complete the world and bring about its own feel.
How beautiful is this flower?
It does not surprise that the game is able to reach a stable 60 fps on the Switch. The art style is very clean and smooth, matching the game and its simplicity in most areas. Geometry and textures continue the simplistic theme, which can leave a bit to be desired with the visuals. Adding more detail to the textures alone would improve the game a decent bit, even only in some areas as basic textures do work well for some parts of the game. Woodle, considering you look at him (it?) all the time, feels like more could have been put in to create a more detailed but still stylized look. Some more advanced effects like sun rays exist in the game and almost feel out of place in the straightforward world.
What do the turtles do?!
There were a couple other points I wanted to be sure to include. There are a couple NPCs in the game’s first level, but there is no indication until a text box appears above them with their dialogue. They seem like enemies and I attempted destroying them, but it was ineffective, the dialogue box appearing too late. Then there are the turtles that exist in every level. You can climb on them and that seems to be it, seeming like there were more plans for them but were decided against.
Woodle Tree Adventures Deluxe is an interesting game. The developers behind the game, Fabio Ferrara and Chubby Pixel, make a point to state on Steam that the game is “meant to be played by adults and children and to bring happiness to all souls.” Their goal with this game was for people to enjoy their time playing it and just relax. With that in mind, I do think they succeeded in their goal, but it could be improved in significant ways. I found that everything in the game was just…there, for lack of a better word.
Since the developer has stated plans to bring the sequel, Woodle Tree 2: Worlds, to the Switch as well, I hope to see some of these improvements. It could be something special, but currently falls short of being a decent game in some regards. At its low price with one and a half to two hours of gameplay, you probably at least get your money’s worth, especially if the purchase is made as a child’s first platformer or a game just to chill out with. With that being said, it would seem the developer’s goal was met, but doesn’t feel like enough to make a good, more worthwhile game.
Note: Chubby Pixel provided a copy for review purposes.