Honestly, you should purchase LumbearJack just to support the geniuses behind that perfect pun title, but if that isn’t enough for you there’s plenty more to growl about in this perfect little indie package.
You play as the titular ursine tree surgeon, Jack, but – twist – you’re going to leave the trees alone in order to smash up all the horrendous manmade structures and equipment encroaching on your wild habitat. As you chop your way through the tools of your greatest enemy – the industrial giant Evil Works – you’ll collect recyclable materials, get enough and you can upgrade your ax so you can take on even bigger buildings and vehicles. It’s not all mindless hacking, your prefrontal cortex will get a gentle massage from some strategic situations involving turtle transport, bombs, and using simple machines to control moving parts of various constructions.
The bearer of good news
Rooting (sorry) for you is a collection of animal friends that includes penguins, moles, and a handgliding goat. As you clear the land of Evil Works’ influence new trees and flowers sprout, and if you come into contact with any sinister men in suits or construction workers, your magic touch will give them a wholesome makeover, turning them into gardeners or surfers. While the conservation message is obvious it’s all delivered by adorable, anthropomorphised animals, so you never get that feeling of being trapped in a Greenpeace PSA.
It gives you that same, wanton destruction-flavored thrill that Katamari Damacy delivered, with a similar mechanic where you need to work up to conquering the bigger items in the game world. You’ll never be stumped (I’m so sorry) by any of the more puzzle-based elements or get lost on the simple woodland map, but the personality and chance to figure out the best way to use wrecking balls is just enough to make the mechanics compelling. In fact, once you’re in the world you’re probably going to stay there until you’ve finished the game.
The right to bear axes
And that’s the only complaint you could possibly register about LumbearJack, that if you get hyperfocused you can accidentally burn through the whole thing in a couple of hours, then feel a bit like you’ve wolfed down your entire birthday cake in one sitting. It’s bear-ly (again, sorry) a negative, I wanted more because every minute was a little hit of dopamine. Luckily it feels like we’re living in a golden age of wholesome, cozy games – if you have a thing for bears with careers then Bear and Breakfast is out on July 28 – so you can find ever more games out there with a similar vibe, just make sure you make LumbearJack one of your picks.
Lumbar Jack is out now on PC and Nintendo Switch.