by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Get your flannel shirts on
With much of the world in various states of Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions, families are spending more time at home together. Whether you’re working from a home office, completing home schooling, or just trying to make the best of the situation, it can be a drain. But after all the day’s tasks are complete, it can be great opportunity to game together. And a heap of fun can be had from the range of couch co-op games available – the latest being Lumberhill, a game that takes farming and lumberjacking to a fun new level.
Lumberhill tasks gamers - either individually, or as a team – with completing several activities within a short period of time. Tasks include guiding farm animals to their barns, chopping down trees of various varieties and building bridges amongst others. As with most games of this type, the first few levels introduce each of the tasks gradually, allowing the players to work out the timing and order of how to complete each chore. Like games such as Overcooked or Tools Up, there is a queue of jobs that need to be completed. Completing the jobs in a prompt manner will score big points, and doing well will grant you three stars – which can be used to unlock new levels and new characters to play as.
Each new level sports a different layout with bridges - some that need to be built by the players – across water and dangerous chasms, moving platforms and elevator-like contraptions that can both help and hinder a player’s progress. There are also dangerous animals who will attempt to knock you down, or into water. Later levels will include environmental dangers such as swamps, lava and even cheeky animals that run off with livestock.
Working as a team
Although the game can be played as a single-player title, the fun ramps up when you’re working as a team with friends or family in couch co-op. As teams move through the levels, the gameplay can get quite hectic as teams try to organize themselves to collect timber and livestock whilst dodging the plethora of dangers that came your way. Often, it can be the simple task of navigating to the lumber mill or the barnyards that can be tricky. As with any co-op game, working together is the key to success., But with multiple players on the screen at once, a stray swing of your axe can have teammates being whacked into water or off a cliff. The levels often have tight spaces, and players can often get in each others way at bottleneck points in the maps.
If you find that working as a team isn’t working, players can also play Lumberhill as a couch PvP. In the competitive mode, players vie to complete the most jobs whist the other team (as the animals) attempt to prevent them from doing so. I did find that the animals were a little overpowered and as a result it was tough to complete too many tasks during the limited time frame. But each player (or team) has a shot at playing animals and then lumberjacks/farmers (or vice versa) and the team with the highest score is the winner.
Lumberhill has a wonderfully vibrant cartoon style, in a similar mould to the previously mentioned Overcooked and Tools Up, although the settings are a tad more detailed. As players or teams progress, the game places them in new varied settings each with new themes. There is an Asian theme that has players herding pandas, a pirate theme and even levels that take you back to the age of the dinosaur. The gameplay remains the same, but the level design gives the game a fresh feel as you move throughout the areas. The interface too, is clear, making it easy to see what task is required next, how much time you still have to complete the tasks, your score, and the overall time left...which starts beeping as it nears the end of the level, making everyone panic.
Despite the somewhat mundane tasks that gamers need to complete, it is the range of environmental dangers that make Lumberhill a fun couch party game to play with family or friends. Whether you’re playing co-operatively or in competition with one another, there is a ton of enjoyment to be had. With simple controls (albeit somewhat clunky at times), cute cartoon visuals, tight level design and varied themes and environmental dangers, Lumberhill is a fun game for up to four players. When we’re all cooped up inside the house during lockdown, what better way to build up a sweat than to virtually chop down some trees and herd animals into their barns. I can almost smell the fresh outdoors just thinking about it.
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Simple to play, bright visuals, fun level design
Controls can be somewhat clunky. Tight areas can lead to congestion in co-op