Brushwood Buddies – What We Think:
Brushwood Buddies, developed by Steven Collings, combines cute critters and various crafting techniques in an uncommon, yet quite appealing, puzzle experience. Though the complexity tested my patience at times, Brushwood Buddies captivated me in a way where even if my eyes were heavy with exhaustion, I wasn’t giving up. I was going to find a way to construct that campfire if it was the last thing I did.
My first experience with Brushwood Buddies began like any other game – I familiarized myself with its interface and the basic mechanics, admiring its apparent unique qualities. The game offers both a campaign and a challenge mode, but as a beginner it’s pretty standard to start with the “story,” so to say. Unless you’re really good at everything, but I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I am.
Because I’m not.
Into the Woods
So as I delightfully clicked my way into what was about to be quite the head-scratcher, my petite forested buddy “Woodie” appeared on screen. The first stage is pretty self-explanatory, as you’re simply instructed to craft an apple out of a tree for the famished Woodie.
It’s actually very helpful, because Brushwood Buddies offers convenient hints on screen for players regarding how to craft certain items, at least up until the eleventh level. At that point, you’re left exercising your own common knowledge. That is, if you have any.
Around the fifth stage, the Turnip Lady joins Woodie in his path to crafting numerous recipes. They are quite the dynamic duo, but are also complete opposites. Throughout various stages, you will have to decipher whether or not to either “craft” an item or “destroy” it.
To Everything There Is a Season
When Woodie’s heart is sad, destroying numerous items on screen will replenish his happiness. The Turnip Lady, on the other hand, resents the idea of destruction, so she becomes distraught at Woodie’s damaging behavior.
There are also other adorable little critters that join Woodie in his crafting adventures, but they arrive in later levels.
As I previously mentioned, Brushwood Buddies can become incredibly puzzling at times, to the point where I was kind of just gawking at my screen, dumbfounded at how dumb I felt. Available for these instances, though, is a list of recipes and a general idea of what to combine to create what that specific stage requires for completion.
Like any other puzzle game, the stages continue becoming more and more complex the further you get into the campaign, which has indefinitely frazzled me.
Yet at the same time, I’m kind of digging it.
As my collection of recipes increased, I found myself beginning to recognize the formulas. Considering I’d recreate a lot of the basic objects in a majority of the stages, it became second nature to construct a basic knife. Now, when I was a rookie crafter, it would have taken me twice as much time to complete such a task.
That was the old me, though. I’m much better at crafting now.
Out on a Limb
Considering my fresh experience with crafting, a stab at challenge mode didn’t seem so ludicrous. Brushwood Buddies explicitly warns its players in all caps that challenge mode is “FOR EXPERIENCED PLAYERS ONLY.” The levels in this mode are either timed or based on how little you can manage to discard.
Oof, the stages can really be something fierce.
I have to admit, though, there are some noticeable kinks in Brushwood Buddies. At times, the items that are located on island-like spots almost seem randomized. They aren’t always spawned at their original starting locations and sometimes the item you need to craft isn’t available.
There’s nothing like being halfway through a recipe and running out of turns. But it’s fine; I didn’t just stress myself out for the past half hour or anything.
The soundtrack doesn’t seem to be set on a continuous loop, either, which I found disappointing because it meshed so well with the style of Brushwood Buddies. At times I felt as if I was actually in the wilderness, but then the melody came to a sudden halt. Maybe it’s a personal thing, but background music is important.
Take It or Leaf It
For the most part, Brushwood Buddies is a fairly enjoyable and humorous puzzler. The gameplay can be mentally exhausting and there are a lot of tedious steps that need to be taken to unveil new recipes. On the other hand, it’s so rewarding to cross that finish line and journey along through various forested lands.
And of course the best part is watching your little wilderness buddies be engulfed in happiness. It’s pretty adorable.
Brushwood Buddies is available through Steam.
Watch the trailer for Brushwood Buddies below: