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Developer: Owlchemy Labs
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Owlchemy Labs, developer of Snuggle Truck is back with a game that should only be controversial to tree-huggers: Jack Lumber. The heart of this game is similar to Fruit Ninja, what with there being things to slice on screen with one’s finger. But where Fruit Ninja was a fruit slicing melee, this is more about precision. Logs can only be sliced in half through the length of log, and some logs are weirdly-shaped, and others can only be cut in a certain direction.

When players put their fingers on the screen, time slows down for a short while to cut through all the logs. At the end of each level, there’s an animal that appears, and cutting through it is instant failure. All levels have the same log setups, so the game is about mastering proper cutting techniques and finding the best time to strike in order to maximize combos and the number of “straight shot” cuts.

I will say that I did not expect this kind of practically cerebral gameplay from Jack Lumber, what with the whole ridiculous theme of “burly lumberjack avenges his grandma who was killed by an evil tree.” A great run in other similar slicing games feels like luck more than skill, so with the set levels, it feels like I have control over how well I’m doing, rather than luck of the draw. The game takes refuge in absurdity, as verbs like “Plaid!” are used when slicing lumber, there’s the ability to unlock a picture of a beaver in a cabin to put in the cabin, and just the whole “evil trees” story. I mean, come on. The game is published by Sega through their new third-party Sega Alliance publishing program, which means one thing, dear readers: hearing the classic “SEGA!” before the title screen.

There is still some luck involved, as figuring out when to slow down time to start chopping for straight shots is hard to time at full speed, and only becomes obvious through repetition. Also, the straight shot detection seems to be more liberal at times than others. While I like the level-based setup, an endless mode available for players, at least one that would be available from the beginning, would be a great addition.

Jack Lumber is completely ridiculous and I love it. It’s easy to pick up and play, has plenty of laughs, and actually has a great number of levels to go along with it. Put on some flannel, grow out that beard, and chop some wood.

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