The great outdoors is an attractive prospect for many. Whether it is the excitement of the unknown or the joy of working with your hands, it fascinates us. Gaming companies prey on these desires with an array of earthy simulation titles. There is a plethora of fishing, farming and walking experiences to be had. However, today, I’m going to grab an axe, put on a plaid shirt, and become a woodsman in Lumberjack’s Dynasty.
Developed by UMEO Studios and published by Toplitz Productions, this is a heartwarming simulation title. Set in a tiny rugged community, you must complete many jobs, cut down masses of trees, find love, buy equipment, and more. Consequently, it is a full-on game that can be as in-depth or as simple as you like. It was this concept that drew me to play it, but sadly, bugs and glitches undermine many of its positives.
Lumberjack’s Dynasty is still a buggy mess.
I was fortunate enough to review Lumberjack’s Dynasty for PC in 2021. During my time with it, I found it to be moreish, cutesy, emotive, but flawed in so many ways. The long list of problems was gut-wrenching and tarnished an addictive and well-considered real-to-life simulation. Disappointingly, roll on 18 months, and nothing has changed! The textures are all over the place. You clip through the scenery, bushes regrow in seconds, trees hover in midair, and so forth. Luckily, though, many of these problems can simply be ignored. However, we’ll cover the game-breaking moments a bit later on.
Issues to one side, let’s look at the rest of the package. The story uses a familiar approach that’s seen in any farming title. You are the nephew of some ageing relatives who run a failing farm. With limited time on their hands, they wish to sell up and retire quietly. However, your arrival ensures a different path is taken. With your help, the business can be restored, the buildings will be repaired, and the town will thrive. On top of this, you can make friends, find a wife, raise a family, and make money through plenty of side hustles.
As I said, the story is well-trodden, but this matters not. It is delivered at a comfortable pace and has an open-world approach. Subsequently, you are free to do as you wish, with no negative connotations.
Big machines, plenty of tasks, and basic character progression.
If you love tractors, loggers, and other diesel-powered machines, then you’ll adore Lumberjack’s Dynasty. There is a plethora of game-changing equipment for you to buy. You can upgrade to a faster car, a larger tractor, or an all-in-one hauling and cutting machine. Yet, purchasing these gargantuan vehicles isn’t that simple. No, instead, you must complete a series of inane tasks before you even consider flying solo.
Now, this may seem annoying, but it isn’t. It was the perfect way to keep the story going while allowing you the freedom to explore. Consequently, you’ll travel the whole map to complete small and often arduous jobs. Annoyingly, most of the quests are repetitive and this was disheartening. You’ll be asked to clear bushes, fell trees, and store the logs. In theory, this should be a breeze, but in reality, it is thwarted with problems.
The protagonist is often scuppered by his hunger and tiredness meters. If either of these falls too low, you must eat or return home to rest. Now, this shouldn’t be a problem, but when a job is 2000+ metres away and your tractor maxes out at 20mph, it becomes a little tedious. However, I shouldn’t really complain, as, after all, I chose the slow-paced country life that I’m now experiencing.
Repairs and making money.
This is the section of the review that dissects the unfortunate issues that tarnish Lumberjack’s Dynasty. However, keep in mind that the developers are actively working on their project.
I’m no DIY aficionado, but even I know a nail gun won’t repair every problem you face. Yet, this is the only tool you have to fix windows, ceramics, walls, toys, seats, and fences. It was quite frankly ridiculous that this was the only piece of equipment on offer. I know a simplified approach is more welcoming, but this breaks the immersion and reduces the realism, considerably.
This can also be seen in the poorly scaled wildlife and a glitch that undoes all your repair work. I’m not sure I’ve seen a stag double the size of a tractor before playing this game. However, I have now and it was both mesmerising and terrifying in equal measure. Furthermore, this freak of nature withstands the hardest of hits from any vehicle. As a consequence, I’m not sure whether to be impressed or petrified by these all-powerful Cervidae.
The issue regarding glitched repairs is depressing and disheartening. You invest hours to progress the game and it’s undone in a matter of seconds. This problem is unforgivable and will put off many would-be woodsmen.
Finally, the action stagnates as learning to sell goods is confusing and poorly explained. Subsequently, the incredible shiny machines, new forests, and other upgrades feel out of reach. Had the solution been more obvious, the gameplay would have been vastly improved.
Lumberjack’s Dynasty is no oil painting.
Simulator games and poor graphics go hand-in-hand. Yes, they are never terrible, but most developers focus on every other aspect. That is exactly what has happened in Lumberjack’s Dynasty, as it is no oil painting. The render distances are awful, you clip through the world, plants and trees regrow out of nowhere, and the characters look terrible. In short, it is a dated mess. However, you quickly forget this as each element of the cinematic will have you in fits of laughter. Amusingly, the lip-syncing is so poor that most people appear to be gasping for air. Yet, once you finish giggling, you realise it’s a poorly finished title that could and should have been done much better.
Alongside the flawed visuals are some confusing audio elements. First, the balance between upbeat and relaxing songs is off. For unknown reasons, aggressive and daunting music will play. These poorly executed moments leave you confused. Second, the sound effects are flat, repetitive, and dull. I expected much more realistic noises, but it never happened. Consequently, the realism is reduced, and you are left wanting. Finally, the acting is atrocious! With poorly delivered lines and a wooden undertone, it’s worse than your kids’ school play.
A nice port from PC.
It’s rare that a game ports from PC and subsequently handles better on console. Lumberjack’s Dynasty does just that with its fantastic controller layout and responsive controls. Alongside this, a helpful UI highlights tasks that need doing. This was an excellent choice as it improved the experience without dumbing down the difficulty too much.
If the problems can get resolved, this would be an amazing and addictive title. With so much to do, many vehicles to buy, properties to repair and forests to fell you are spoilt for choice. What’s more, the story is rich with heartwarming moments. Sadly, though, the bugs and glitches do their best to ruin such great potential.
Lumberjack’s Dynasty should have been great.
It is with a heavy heart that I write this review. I desperately wanted to love Lumberjack’s Dynasty, but I can’t. No matter how much I try, I can’t get over its shortcomings. I care not about glitches and bugs, and frankly, the poor acting made me laugh throughout. However, game-breaking issues are unforgivable. If these problems weren’t present, it would receive a respectable 7 out of 10. Instead, my 5 out of 10 is at best, generous. All things considered, I can’t recommend you to buy this game. Yet, if you are interested, more information can be found here. I’m sure the developers will fix the problems. But, until then, give this a miss.