This one comes off as a unique premise to the side-scroller genre in the Xbox Live Indie game channel; I mean come on, how many games let you play as flannel wearing, axe-wielding, bearded lumberjack? Bytown Lumberjack plays like a classic arcade beat-em up, akin to the classic The Simpsons Arcade Game or the godlike TMNT: Turtles in Time, but sadly it does not compare to those classics. For a buck though? It’s a decent time waster.
The story setting up the game is as follows: A massive albino man-elk, not ManBearPig, steals your precious “prized” log and decides to leave his own steamy log right on your doorstep. This infuriates the lumberjack, who with his trusty axe, sets forth through the forest to take back your log and the creature’s head for your cabin wall.
As you start off you have both a light and heavy attack, which you will be using throughout the entire game. Besides moving there is nothing else you will be doing – there are no special attacks, no rolling, nothing. As you venture forward you come upon wave after wave of enemies. The enemies tend to cluster up and charge at you in almost a perfect straight line. Quickly hitting the light attack over and over will easily take care of every enemy in the game, except for the boss which can one-shot you at will. The enemies vary from creatures of the night such as raccoons and wolves to human characters like hunters and thieves. Anything that charges the mighty edge of your axe winds up being nothing more than a pool of blood and guts in the end though.
About halfway through you ditch the axe for a chainsaw, which is only slightly more powerful. There are some glaring issues with the game that can drive anyone crazy. The ranged foes are the most dangerous ones you will face: the more deadly, yet simple rock throwing hobo will kill you more than the massive archers. No matter where you are, it seems like the thrown rocks follow you and make it nearly impossible to avoid. If I see that these will be the next enemy to face, I tend to charge straight into them and take my chances. Hitting them doesn’t stop them from attacking you, so killing them swiftly is the key to surviving.
The biggest issue with the game is when you try moving away or towards the enemy when they are close. Being on top of them makes it nearly impossible to attack them without being hit. The collision detection stops you from overlapping, but you have to be directly in front of them to attack and as soon as you try to re-position yourself the enemy starts a flurry of attacks that will 99% of the time hit you and drain your health fast.
Graphically the game is pseudo-retro style. The cutscenes in the beginning seem to be all over the place as each scene is almost done in a separate art style. The background is the same forest section over and over with varying color overlays. The characters look like a mix of retro and flash designs, but there are plenty of different character variations. For the sound get used to the song used in the game as you will be hearing it for the entire time.
If you are looking for a game that will be over in less than two hours and only costs a buck, Bytown Lumberjack is a decent choice to waste some time. With 20 levels to play through with some pretty funny titles, the game is best played a little at a time. I would compare it to downloading a mobile game when you are stuck on the train or at the airport, but instead you are staying at home and won’t want to get into a 20-hour long adventure and just need that mindless game to waste some time.
Note: The Xbox Live Indie version of Bytown Lumberjack was used for review purposes. Note: The Bytown Lumberjack review was written based on the Xbox 360 version of the game provided by the publisher.