I’m always a sucker for co-op games. Something about working with another person or a group of people to overcome obstacles to complete a shared goal is some of the best gameplay. Games like Overcooked and Tools Up! where objectives are some of the most fun—but their cute exteriors betray the sometimes intense cooperation required to succeed. Frustration is a normal part of the gameplay in those games—but the frustration is usually due to the situation the game puts you in, and not the controls or wonky glitches—which, unfortunately, is the case with Lumberhill.
Lumberhill is a co-op game where you play as lumberjacks who have to battle against wilderness, the elements, and time to complete various tasks. These tasks usually involve gathering some sort of resource, and depositing it at the proper location. Your lumberjack hijinks will take you all over the world, and even through time, as you cut trees, herd animals, and attempt to evade hungry dinosaurs and aggressive warthogs over four different zones. Lumberhill has all of the ingredients to be a great game, but it suffers from some frustratingly bad gameplay.
The biggest issue with Lumberhill, and one that mars the experience at every level, is how it feels to play. The controls don’t feel tight. While Overcooked and Tools Up! benefit from much tighter controls, and mechanically satisfying gameplay, Lumberhill is frustrating and imprecise by comparison. While imprecision can lead to moments of amusing chaos, it doesn’t lend itself to fun gameplay. It doesn’t help that many of the locations in Lumberhill feel tight, and overcrowded. Grabbing certain objects can be nearly impossible without tossing away neighboring items frantically.
Lumberhill isn’t all bad, however. It has a bright, colorful art style, and some really cute animals—I love the pandas. But more than just cute animals and bright graphics, occasionally there are some really great gameplay ideas or sublime level design. Some of the maps in Lumberhill are great, even despite how tight they can be. I appreciate the use of height in Lumberhill, and a range of obstacles that require teamwork to traverse, or the use of resources that could otherwise go to completing objectives. There are some genuine strokes of brilliance in Lumberhill.
You can play Lumberhill with up to three other friends in co-op mode (either local or online), or in a player versus player mode that where your friends take on the role of antagonistic animals to halt or slow your progress. You can also play Lumberhill solo, but it loses a lot of its charm as a solo game. There is also less room for the pure chaos that is possible with numerous players attempting to complete tasks simultaneously.
I definitely had high hopes for Lumberhill. It has an appealing art style, and its subject matter tapped into a niche that other task-oriented co-op games hadn’t. It’s unfortunate, then, that its gameplay feels so frustratingly imprecise. It’s just not up to par with other similar co-op games. Even if you’re a huge fan of Overcooked, you might not get the same type of fun out of Lumberhill, which is best when it’s at its most chaotic.
Lumberhill is available today on Steam.
If you like the video game, tabletop, or other technology content that Third Coast Review has to offer, consider donating to our Patreon. We are the only publication in Chicago that regularly reviews video games, and we cover lots of local Chicago-based events and more. If you want to contribute to our coverage of Chicago’s video game scene (and more) please consider becoming a patron. Your support enables us to continue to provide this type of content and more. Patreon.com/3CR
You can also catch us streaming games we’re reviewing and staff favorites on our Twitch channel.