Mable and the Wood is a 2D platformer by developer Triplevision games. You play as the protagonist and hero Mable, a flame haired young girl who has been summoned by a cult to prevent the end of the world by defeating a series of powerful monsters. The unassuming little girl is very much the unlikely hero, especially when she can be seen dragging her oversized sword behind her with difficulty. Mable’s ability to shape-shift becomes apparent right from the very start of the game. but early in the story only the fairy form is available. This adds even more to the element of comedy and doubt in her abilities to be the saviour of the world.
Through the course of the game Mable is able to acquire new forms by defeating monsters and bosses. By defeating these, Mable receives the ability to shapeshift into versions of the defeated foes. Once she has taken on these forms she can use some of their abilities to progress through the environments and solve simple puzzles.
The overall mechanics for the game are simple and very easy to connect with. The control for changing form however can be a little clunky especially when there is a need to switch quickly. At times I found that I needed to be in spider form to get to a higher point and then quickly change to stone form to smash through stone walls, it was a little frustrating as selecting the correct form in such a small window of time can be tricky.
The timeframe in which you can use the abilities in each form is also limited. A yellow magic bar is indicative of how much charge you have before the need to return to human form. There are eight abilities to acquire in total but the need for use of the latter forms is sparse; you may find that the first few forms are perfectly adequate to get through the game. Some forms do have more of a use when backtracking, with areas that were previously inaccessible become open to you when using the right form.
Another mild frustration I had was with the distribution of checkpoints. Although these were placed at regular intervals, I could spend a large chunk of time traversing platforms only to fall all the way back to the bottom and have to start over. At points I found myself getting so frustrated that I had to leave the game and come back once I had cooled off.
Scattered around the levels is currency in the form of diamonds to be spent at stores dotted around the levels. Here you can purchase items such as health potions which can be of great help during boss battles. On each event of your death a frozen statue of your form is placed where you died, by returning to this you can reclaim the diamonds that you had been collecting. The only problem being sometimes these statues would be dropped in a place that would not be accessible without risking death again.
The game also features multiple endings which are dependent on your play style. While on your journey you may choose to take the pacifist route, though this is not hinted at until later in the game, where it may already be too late to make that choice. It is possible to make your way through the entire game without killing any enemies. Some clearer paths become apparent with a little more exploration however it is incredibly easy to kill foes accidentally which may lead to you having to start the game over! Although frustrating, it does leave the game open to a multiple playthroughs if you are a completionist and want to experience both routes and all endings.
Maps are not always available for all areas and are not simple to read once acquired. A lot of game time may be spent exploring, and it is quite easy to get lost. On the plus side, you are forced to experience and take in all the beautifully designed environments without rushing through.
The pixel style graphics have been lovingly crafted and it is clear to see that there has been a huge amount of work involved. Characters even in the pixel style are surprisingly expressive and all seem to have personalities of their own. Each and every environment from deep dark caves to enchanting little villages have a great deal of charm and separate areas all have clear distinction. The game audio does not stand out but also adds to a full and well-rounded experience.
Mable and the Wood is a pleasant adventure with a cleverly thought out combat system. Execution is not always perfect, and the game isn’t without its flaws however overall is still an enjoyable adventure. This is a nice little platformer where you are free to make your own decisions and choose the kind of hero you want to be.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.