I rarely review, preview or even go within 10 feet of platformers. Why? Because I generally suck at them. However, I do love pixel art and cute little cats with bat wings. Thus, the conundrum that Applewood presented when it was first pitched to me. Cats with batwings won out in the end, of course. And so I embarked on my journey!
Applewood tells the story of Ringo, a small grey cat who also has a pair of bat wings on his back. He’s friends with llamas, owls, and giant octopi, and he’s probably going to do something really important with apples if the intro video skewing the garden of Eden story was anything to go by. I’ll admit, I haven’t gotten that far into the plot yet. The gist of the intro is that nothing could grow on the highest mountain in the world until one apple tree did, which then turned the whole mountaintop into a paradise until scoundrels decided to try and steal an apple from the tree one day. It did not end well for them.
What I have gotten into is the gameplay, and as someone who doesn’t do a whole lot of platformers, I love it. It feels like this was made for me. The collectibles are fairly simple, you go around collecting goldberries and a few wood carvings but you don’t have to check under every bush and tree stump for a new one. There’s also a fairly simple health meter that you can eat apples to fill up on. Did I still die? Yes, yes I did. And I felt horribly guilty for killing such a cute cat. Along the way, Ringo faces obstacles like tangle weeds, bodies of water and small yellow creatures that pop out of the ground and try to kill you with blowdarts.
The actual gameplay itself is straightforward and explained quite simply. There are no complicated mechanics to memorize, just Ringo and his amazing hover wings and cute parkour skills. While I realize some of you are in this for insane jumps and cool abilities, Applewood is good at stripping it down to the basics without feeling like anything was yanked away. If you’re looking for a new challenge, this probably isn’t it, but if you’re a novice platformer or trying to introduce someone to the genre, it’s a perfect pick.
The art of Applewood is adorable, and while it’s not super detailed, there was a lot of care and design put into it. From Ringo’s different faces as he carries heavy objects and bounces off of walls, to the simple yet aesthetic world design evoking a lush forest, every detail has been handcrafted. As the name suggests, there is also an abundance of apples, but the game stops short of turning them into an obnoxious ubiquity.
All in all, Applewood is a fun romp. While it doesn’t break any boundaries in the genre, it’s a great first outing, particularly for platformer beginners. I look forward to seeing what the studio comes up with next, and if it’s Ringo plushes, you don’t need to tell me twice.
Applewood was reviewed by TechRaptor on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer.