Do you ever get the feeling a game is trying to tell you something? Well LumbearJack isn’t afraid to be blunt. Humans are ruining the natural landscape and the animals have decided to fight back. That’s right, the up-and-coming industrial giant Evil Works (poor judgement on the name there) has numerous projects on the go and Jack the bear has had quite enough.
With the help of his animal friends, Jack sets out to quite literally destroy every trace of the company piece by piece. Pretty much anything that isn’t natural can be destroyed in LumbearJack. As you go about your work removing debris from each area, the land will return to its lush, natural state.
Jack’s main weapon of choice is his trusty axe, which starts off at a pretty standard size, meaning he can chop small objects with it. As he slices his way through the equipment belonging to Evil Works, his recycling backpack fills up with materials. When it reaches capacity, he will be able to upgrade his axe and then chop larger objects. As you play LumbearJack, you will also make use of tennis rackets and golf clubs to launch bombs and clear your path.
Each level carries three objectives alongside helping your animal chums. Firstly, clearing all debris will rejuvenate an area and allow nature to rule supreme once again. Whilst doing this, you will come across people who seem down, and are devoid of any colour and emotion. However, you can quite literally slap some sense into them, and as if by magic they will see the error of their ways and embrace their natural surroundings. It’s undeniably cute watching them spring into life and go sailing on the lake, or play skittles on the grass. Finally, there’s a pesky bear trap to be found in each level which needs a good bashing to take it out of action for good.
You wander from level to level on the world map, each presenting itself as a puzzle of sorts. I use that word lightly, because on the whole it’s pretty obvious what you need to do in each scenario.
At first things are incredibly straightforward in LumberJack, before getting a little more difficult as you progress through the twenty levels on offer. The later stages are often centred around a large piece of machinery which you either have to figure out how to dismantle, or upgrade your weapon so it’s strong enough to simply smash it to pieces. And boy is it satisfying to do so. Taking out a massive digger, or demolishing a half built block of flats is not only fun, but feels like the right thing to do. This is because LumbearJack gets you onside pretty much straight away with its simple, effective storytelling. To be clear, LumbearJack never nears the realm of “challenging”, but it’s clearly geared around getting its message across to gamers of all ages.
That’s pretty much all there is to it. It’s simple and repetitive but LumbearJack is so wholesome it’s hard not to like. Back in the real world, and thanks to a partnership with Ecologi, every time the game is downloaded a tree will be planted as part of ongoing reforestation efforts which is pretty cool. Each level is sandwiched by short cutscenes of the animal team outwitting the humans and winning them over to their environmental cause, and it’s adorable.
You’ll barely get two hours of play out of LumbearJack so the repetitive nature of the gameplay doesn’t have the opportunity to become too much of an issue, especially as the different tools Jack uses add a very light sprinkle of variety. However, it is a tad on the expensive side for what is, no matter how charming.
At first I wasn’t too impressed with LumbearJack. I thought it was too simple, and uninventive gameplay wise. However, before too long it won me over and I found it a delightfully positive way to spend a couple of hours, even if it was incredibly easy. Oh, and there’s some easy Gamerscore up for grabs too which is always a sweetener.
LumbearJack is easy to write off as a game simply for kids. However, give it a chance and you may just learn something as well as having a smashing time in the process.
LumbearJack is available from the Xbox Store