Review: Woodle Tree 2: Worlds (Steam)

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This review has been long overdue, truth be told. I originally received Woodle Tree 2: Worlds for review in the middle of the year, but technical issues with its early access release prevented me from being able to really play the game. Thankfully, later updates have alleviated the playability troubles, so I can finally have my say on what I think about the title as a whole. As one can see from the title, this game is a sequel to Woodle Tree Adventures, a short 3D platformer released on Steam a couple years ago. Both games have an easy-to-swallow price point, but the question is: Is the sequel better than its predecessor, or is it at least a fine game in its own right? Like always, read on to find out!

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Story

It’s stated by the Steam description that the protagonist of this game is actually the son of the previous game’s. A black substance is absorbing energy and life and it’s up to this game’s Woodle Tree to collect the floating tear drops once more. It’s all an excuse plot that’s implied at best; in fact, the only implied instance in the game is seeing the black substance itself. Otherwise, if you went straight in without seeing the product details, you’d have no idea why this little tree character is going to places to collect water drops. There’s simply no dialogue to be had. It’s kind of surreal to describe a 3D platformer like that.

Graphics

Woodle Tree 2: Worlds adopts the same sort of graphic style used in the first game, except now things are more open-world-like. The player can get some pretty neat views when scaling mountains despite the scenery itself looking arguably too simplistic for its own good. I personally don’t mind it too much, though. The characters are cute, and the environment is easy on the eyes.

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Audio

The sound design is also minimalist in its own way. It doesn’t work as well as the art style, however. Some sound effects feel like they aren’t impactful enough, and the music doesn’t suit the tone of the game too well. The soundtrack tries going for this atmospheric mood, but the game itself seems to clash with this sort of setup. It’s simply preferred that there be an upbeat score.

Gameplay

Easily the biggest change-up from Woodle Tree Adventures to Woodle Tree 2Worlds, this game attempts to go for a totally open-world setting. The player starts off right away venturing through this large environment without any in-game exposition slowing things down. It’s about as overwhelming as open-world exploration could possibly get; the player has the freedom to go wherever he or she desires, and the sections of the world are divided into levels in only a theoretical matter. Well, and the loading screens render the level when necessary.

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The game may have been updated to enhance the playability, but I swear the load times are insufferable. I don’t know if it’s because my laptop doesn’t want to run it at its max specs, but loading screens can last minutes if the computer shows any signs of under-performance. A load time really only occurs when going from one land to another, but these need to be reduced to nothingness.

That said, there is a lot to roam around in in Woodle Tree 2: Worlds. Players will be running across long stretches of land and scale a fair amount of mountains. There’s also plenty of jumping from platform to platform, as well as some situational hazards and switches that need to be flipped to activate paths. It can be seen as more involved than the first game, as the camera is now controlled with the mouse, and the protagonist has a new feature that allows him to glide across the air with his leaf.

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It all doesn’t sound too shabby, and there are a good amount of moments where there is genuine fun to be had exploring and hopping or gliding from place to place. The problem is that Woodle Tree 2: Worlds does have a set of flaws that holds the overall quality back. While the leaf was a practical weapon in Woodle Tree Adventures, this game undermines its power drastically. I swear only certain enemy types could die from it! There is one thing the sequel fixes the original screwed up: The checkpoint system. However, there is an issue where if you go someplace else (even as far as a different land) and die, you’ll wind up back at the checkpoint no matter where it is.

Worse, while falling off to your doom is made into a non-issue this time around, the issue of falling off to do over the series of platforms has risen up drastically. There are a lot of times in this game where you’ll be climbing upwards. If you screw up and fall, you will indeed fall. You could drop entire floors down if the pits are deep enough. It’s just as infuriating as falling to my doom and I seriously wish there could have been a better way to handle this. In addition, the platforming could grow repetitive fairly quickly. There just isn’t enough differentiation in these levels to justify their ginormous length.

Verdict

As someone that liked the original game enough to look forward to the sequel, I stand conflicted with the results. I really do admire the ambition regarding the open-world concept. I mean that wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, the execution of Woodle Tree 2: Worlds leaves a lot to be desired. It does fix some major problems Woodle Tree Adventures had, but it also has new ones that hurt the game. If you are curious, I say proceed with caution. Otherwise, I’m not sure I could really recommend this game.

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