In terms of strangest character to play as, Woodle Tree Adventures has you experiencing life as a walking tree-stump. It is right up there with some of the weirdest.
In terms of easiest Gamerscore, Woodle Tree Adventures can be completed in just over two hours for a full 1000G.
But in terms of fun gameplay and decent platforming, Woodle Tree Adventures on Xbox One falls towards the bottom end of this spectrum.
Woodle Tree Adventures – the Deluxe Edition on Xbox no less – is a 3D platformer designed to be reminiscent of the old-school 90’s platformers such as Banjo-Kazooie and Super Mario 64. In this sense, it hits the nail on the head. The brightly coloured palette certainly strikes up a chord of nostalgia on those two games in particular. Graphically too, though this is less of a compliment.
You play as Woodle – assuming that is his name – who is the only hope at restoring his world to its’ former glory. Previously this task has been handed to bandicoots, dragons, plumbers, bears, crocodiles, lizards, foxes and Lombaxes, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this time it is an anthropomorphic tree-stump doing the whole ‘save the world’ thing.
Some sort of ‘elder’ tree – a fully formed tree with a moustache – tells you that in order to save the world you must collect fairy tears.
At this point I was very confused. Woodle Tree Adventures describes itself as a game to be played by adults and children together – though there is no multiplayer – and here I was about to delve into Woodle’s psyche to try and understand what a tree-stump must do in order to make a fairy cry to then retrieve the tears that would somehow save the world.
Turns out, these tears are collectibles in the world that are already present, and no name calling or general shithousery is required to extract tears from a fairy. I am glad that was quickly cleared up but also it would have possibly made the game a bit more fun.
Woodle travels from level to level collecting these three tears from each location. Levels cannot be completed by only collecting one or two, all three must be gathered up in one go for progress to be made. Complete one level, and the next one can be accessed in the hub world. Nothing too demanding, and if anything, a little too basic.
The hub world consists of an opening with a house in the middle. It would be fair to assume this is the home of Woodle, but again, it is best not to consider why a tree-stump needs a bed.
Main levels are unlocked after completion of the previous level, and the portal to access them is in this house. But there is no coherence or logic to these portals, a new one just appears after you have completed a stage, and it is left up to you to remember which one you entered previous, and which is the new one.
Also in this hub world are a variety of things to unlock using the berries that you collect during these levels. Thankfully, a counter is present just outside the house indicating how many you have collected overall. Reach certain milestones and you can unlock a couple of bonus levels, several new leafs with not-so-different attacks, and a bandana. This little tree-stump wants to be just like Rambo one day.
Berries and fairy tears aren’t the only things in these levels. Of course, there are enemies to defeat. There are also friendly NPCs to save and protect. How can you tell who is friendly and who isn’t? You can’t, at least not until you start swiping away at a friendly character with your leaf weapon and a speech bubble pops up asking you to stop.
Don’t worry too much about these enemies killing Woodle though; should the worst happen, he/she simply falls over, and play resumes at the start of the level, or a checkpoint if you have progressed far enough through a level. The same goes for when falling off the map. For kids, this is a well thought out mechanic as it doesn’t highlight or punish the death in a way that could be upsetting for them.
What you will notice though is that the checkpoints don’t work out how you would imagine all the time, and more often than not you find yourself back at the start of the level.
Woodle Tree Adventures on Xbox One has ten achievements in total and, as spoken about at the beginning of this piece, they are not difficult to collect. Play the levels, collect the berries, unlock the bonuses – this is a very easy completion. One achievement – for collecting 3000 berries – will likely be the last one to unlock, as completing everything the game has to offer will net you around 1200 berries, but even then, an hour for farming the same level from berries and you will have the full 1000G before you realise that this tree-stump even has arms and legs.
For little ones, this may be a good entry point into gaming, but for the older gamers, this is nothing more than Gamerscore fodder, and it’s tough to even recommend it for that reason. The gameplay is very basic, and the environments may be colourful, but they are certainly not exciting. There is nothing offensive here for kids and whilst Woodle Tree Adventures wants you to play alongside each other, you may find yourself instead letting them play it alone while you go away and do something much more entertaining.