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Back when I was playing SUPERHOT, I came across a cute little minigame called TREEDUDE buried in the guts of its file system. It was a charming little two-button time waster, and I joked that if it existed as a standalone game, I would buy it immediately. Turns out it did, it’s called Timberman, and it adds just enough to the basic formula to indeed stand as its own game. Not by much, mind you, but enough.
Timberman is a game about chopping wood. You have a tree to chop, and you can chop at it from the right or left. Every chop knocks a chunk of tree out, dropping the rest towards you and the ground, branches and all. The branches are the tricky part, because if one bops you on the head, you die. And you can’t take it slow because you’re on a timer that’s only replenished by chopping, and it runs out faster the further you get. The game, then, is about dancing around the tree you’re chopping to avoid the deadly branches.
That’s it. I dragged that explanation out as much as I could, because that is literally it. Chop left, chop right, chop fast, don’t die. You can unlock plenty of characters to chop as, from lumberjacks to hockey players to mythical creatures to President Obama. The unlock conditions are pretty diverse as well, with many requiring certain chop thresholds but others calling for accomplishments with specific characters or logging in X times or hitting an exact number of chops or scoring victories in multiplayer.
There IS a multiplayer mode, and to be honest it’s pretty fun. The incredibly simple gameplay gains a lot when you’re pitting your reflexes against another human or seven. You can even queue for a match while playing the singleplayer, but be warned it will bump you out the moment a match is found so you might lose a promising chopping spree. The real problem here is simply a lack of players, and in particular a lack of players willing to stick around for the entire best-of-three match.
It feels weird to recommend a game with so little going on, but I can’t deny the enjoyment I’ve gotten from it. Working to unlock new characters or just beat your own records is strangely compelling, and the multiplayer satisfies if you have someone to battle. The graphics are fine and pixellated for a game of this scope, and the sound design is… well, it’s there. Nothing stands out about the effects and there’s only one musical loop so don’t worry about breaking out the headphones for this one. Overall, Timberman does what it says it does and doesn’t ask much for it, so if you want a charming little reflex tester you’ll get it here.