A quick tour of the e-shop tells us that at the time of writing these few lines, no fewer than 7,000 titles are competing for our credit cards on Switch. A lot of them are party games that try to keep us sitting around a bowl of peanuts and a playful video experience that mixes fun and bad faith. So we can quote the excellent Overcooked or Heave Oh who have been able to provide a connecting concept that smiles. Many other titles have tried to take their place on the multiplayer fun stage with more or less significant successes. Lumberhill seems up for the challenge. Will it live up to these glorious ancestors, that’s what we’ll see in the rest of this chatter.
By felling a tree, Leonardo became Saw
A party game is primarily gameplay. Is this a reason to sell the screenplay side, many suitors answer yes! And it’s hard to blame them, as Heave Oh manages to rally us in front of our screens without forging a plot, but it’s hard to forget our adventures to help the Onion King in Overcooked. So where is Lumberhill between these two extremes? Well, just on the side of the total absence of narration. And we can only regret it because his universe easily lends itself to any joke.
In the title of 2BIGo and ARP Games, we embody a woodcutter who has to perform various tasks. Why that ? Nobody knows, but it doesn’t matter, because anyway, we don’t know for whom either. Still, we start our game with two kinds of activities: chopping a certain kind of wood or bringing home a certain kind of livestock. Why our woodcutter in a checkered shirt is suddenly a shepherd, again, this question remains a dead letter.
But let’s not bicker about the why and how of procrastination and let’s get down to business. Our missions appeared at the bottom left of the screen and we have a limited time to complete them. The resemblance to the delicious Overcooked is immediately apparent. But if the latter could have thrown a good dose of frenzy into his game by changing every new command in the menu, Lumberhill is content to ask us to always perform the same tasks already mentioned: chop wood, bring back livestock.
In a more or less successful attempt to vary the situations, there are always different types of wood and different types of animals. If for felling it is necessary to choose only the right tree, easy to recognize, the behavior of the animals is more differentiated. Between the sheep that are frightened by our presence and that we lead in sheepdog mode and the pandas that only follow us when we have bamboo in our possession, we will have to apply the right method every time.
In art, all repetition is zero
Unfortunately, these gameplays are repeated in the four worlds that contain ten levels each and only the level design will be able to adapt the situations presented to us. But again, every world has its mechanisms that repeat themselves without really varying. So we will have to manage the chasms, use a freight elevator, build bridges with the felled wood, avoid the pterodactyls and the pirates, put out the fires because of the storms and that’s all. Where Overcooked offered a variety at each level with different settings, kitchens that went in all directions or switched levels in the middle of cooking, Lumberhill is far too wise.
However, the fun is not lacking and the levels follow each other with pleasure. It should also be noted that unlike many party games, the solo mode is playable. The missions to be performed adapt to the number of players, so it will be three sheep that have to be put back in their pen if we play alone, while with three it will take more than ten, and so on for each order .
The command system is also very tolerant, as failing to make a command does not penalize us in any way in terms of our score. It is therefore very tempting to complete only the simplest missions to reach three stars and to unlock the extra reward, represented by an ax, with which we can then spend it on new outfits or new skins. Again, the score to be achieved depends on how many players are in the game. They don’t necessarily have to share our couch as an online mode allows us to find our friends or find an available server to share a game remotely.
Unfortunately, with this title launch, the servers are not present and we have not been able to test their responsiveness. Playing locally is also not without problems. Indeed, if the detection of a half-joy-con is effective, it triggers the appearance of two characters, the stick will control one of the characters, provided you hold the joystick upside down, while the buttons activate the other, a bug no doubt, but one that forces you to play with a few joy-cons per player, and that without need.
We judge a shirt by its collar and a man by his shirt
Also, technically, Lumberhill’s physics aren’t flawless. Our characters are fairly slow and you always have to hold the run button on ZR to feel like you’re moving forward a bit. But this is just one mistake among others. First of all, there are those trees that reappear without warning, rolling us very far out into the landscape, losing precious time, and there are also those trees that, once cut, disappear into an abyss without us being able to do anything.
These minor flaws spoil a title that is nevertheless endearing at first glance with its colorful and glittering graphics palette and its characters on the limit of low poly caricatured anything that spends too much time in the weight room. The details of the sets are quite numerous and we enjoy observing the world in which we have to carry out our missions. The unlockable outfits are many and varied, for both human and animal avatars.
The controls aren’t much of an issue, except that the 2BIGo and ARP Games title is a real drift detector. On a pro controller that has never been a problem in any other game, we saw our character walking around alone the whole time. Since you can’t define a dead zone on the sticks with the settings, we had to break out a few joy-cons to make it playable.
Before we conclude, note that there is a versus mode, in this in 2V2 we embody a team of humans against a team of animals. While the former try to cut down trees, the latter have to stop them by running into them, again, it’s fun in one part and then we move on without the slightest urge to come back.