Woodle Tree Adventures from Fabio Ferrara and Chubby Pixel is a 3D platformer that takes place in a natural and soft yet rather angular world. You are the offspring of a giant mustache-toting square tree who tasks you with collecting fairy tears to quench the thirst of the increasingly demanding world you inhabit. With a rucksack on your back for storage and a magic leaf to defend yourself, our cute little tree stump hero ventures across eight levels (increased from the original six), swatting enemies, jumping around and collecting berries as you go.
The mandatory objective in each themed world is to collect three magical fairy tears to progress, which then unlock new worlds to explore. There's also a secondary task, which is to collect berries to gain access to three projectile-based power upgrades for your leaf attacks. Thing is, even with the extra worlds and the upgrades, your completion time probably won't go over two hours. While it's easy on the eye with its cute and charming animation, the overall experience lacks impact and detail.
Aside from the opening monologue, there are no names for the worlds and no indication within the level as to how many berries you've collected. Aside from the fact there are no bosses or extra tasks that deviate from the platforming, there is very little kinetic energy or effects to give the worlds life. As well as being relatively linear and not overly vast or complex, these levels are generic in terms of themes, offer little variety in the structure of the landscape and boasts few landmarks or points of interest.
There are some water jets that propel Woodle upward and platforms that present more complex shapes in the later stages, but for the most part, the range of textures, depth in colour palette and lighting are quite limited. In terms of audio, woodland animal sounds, occasional sound effects for collecting berries, hitting enemies and Woodle jumping are accompanied by a sometimes ambient but other times oddly jarring piano-based soundtrack.
While the game is enjoyable to a degree, there are a few design and mechanical issues that, while not game breaking, certainly restrict the freedom of exploration and detract from your enjoyment. First of all, there's issues with the camera. You're only able to zoom the it in and out, which severely interrupts traversing the static platforms. There are even some instances where the camera won't budge and you find yourself hidden, so blind trial and error are constantly necessary. When the camera is autonomous, it's sporadic to the point that it zooms in to the extreme, making your platforming duties even more frustrating.
Despite boasting improvements on previous versions, Woodle's general movement and traversal of the levels just don't feel anywhere near as tight or as varied as its competitors. Although by default, Woodle walks at an awkward and leisurely pace, there is a sprint button rather than analogue control to increase his speed. While there isn't much in the way of obstacles, only Woodle himself has a shadow which makes gauging distance to gather berries or jumping across high platforms barely tolerable.
The whole experience doesn't feel very tactile, and enemies dotted around the worlds don't have much in the way of attack patterns or are even distinguishable as enemies in the first world, and the game even directly addresses this early on in dialogue. Thankfully, foes pose more of a threat later, but the sparse nature of interaction combined with inconsistent collision detection is progressively disappointing.
Even with extra content and performance enhancements, a frustratingly limited camera and lack of variety reduce Woodle to a cheap and cheerful but flawed and basic 3D jump and collect-athon. While its cute and whimsical charm and uncomplicated nature make it suitable and accessible to younger audiences, there are still plenty of contemporaries on the eShop that are more accomplished and polished. While adequate considering its price, it's nonetheless an idyllic yet simple little game.