Tales of LittleWood offers a limited experience as a puzzle platformer, but it uses its limits to the fullest extent with only some hindrances along the way. The visuals are pleasant, the music is relaxing, and the mechanics are easy to use, interesting, but flawed. Tales of LittleWood has a lot to enjoy in its roughly ten minutes of gameplay but has drawbacks such as the movement speed and design flaws.
In Tales of LittleWood you play as a small magic fox and a bear-like creature with a conveniently placed mushroom hat on its head. The gameplay focuses on the mechanic of switching between the fox and the bear to place them at places of the level where they support each other. The bear has the ability to crush walls, as well as immunity to thorns, at the cost of being very slow and unable to jump. The fox, on the other hand, is quick, can jump, and has the key role of exiting each stage by arriving at a stone door.
The puzzles mostly consist of the bear standing in the thorns and allowing the fox to jump on its head, essentially making the bear a moving platform. That’s where the puzzles are lacking. With the bear only being a moving platform, and having a very slow walking speed, its existence was at battle with itself. Being a platform means being at the right position at the right time, but due to the bear’s slowness, the time it took to set up a jump became tedious instead of just having a conveniently placed platform and fun platforming tricks.
The design makes we wish that Tales of LittleWood was a cooperative multiplayer game, setting the game up like this would make the game less tedious and would use the theme of helping each other and bonding better. The lack of any true interaction between the fox and the bear make the overall theme of connection mediocre, because each of them can only exist while the other one turns into a motionless being.
Tales of LittleWood is still worth your time, because even though some of its mechanics are lacking, it adapts well to its limited gameplay. The developers obviously recognize the very minimal game mechanics the game focuses on, the fox jumping on the bear and reaching the goal, and they focus on adding environmental differences to add a special charm to each level.
The environmental changes can be rocks, vines, climbable walls, and disappearing blocks. The problem is that some of these changes do not work well. Occasionally rocks that can be broken by the bear appear at odd positions of the level and have no meaning, and the disappearing blocks sometimes make holes that the fox can get through, but not the bear, despite the lack of ground being larger than the bear. Sometimes the design is confusing, and sometimes it is just a minor issue.
There are many great aspects of Tales of LittleWood that not only outweigh the problems, but add a layer of replayability to the game. One of these is the soundtrack. There is only one song in the game that plays on repeat, but it is a very calming song that is never overwhelming and adds some comfortability to the sometimes confusing and tedious gameplay. I really appreciated the soundtrack, and the cute visuals helped as well.
The fox and bear each have amazing designs. The fox is cheerful and cute, while the bear is dull, seemingly uninterested, and wears a mushroom hat. The minor characters are little rock people and they are super cute, and act as tutorials. The art being very visually pleasing made me want to keep playing the game because I wanted to spend more time with the characters.
Although Tales of LittleWood has its design flaws, the overall experience was quite nice, and made me replay it multiple times. I really love the melody, as well as the very wonderful artwork, and the design flaws quickly became easier to manage and understand during subsequent playthroughs.
Tales of LittleWood is available to download here! It is free to download and well worth your time.