Landlord Of The Woods

PC, Mac

You may not be aware that woodland creatures have to pay rent. Not in money, it turns out, but particular objects found about their homes, like scissors, moths and teeth.

In Landlord Of The Woods, you play as a disaffected 25-year-old, unsure where you’re going with your life, but also you appear to be a plague doctor. Or maybe an actual vast-beaked bird. It’s not clear. While going about your day, you find an advert suggesting that you apply to become the landlord of the woods, so you hop on your PC and do exactly that. Guess what! You’re accepted!

So begins your first day at work, as you meet the agreed rental terms for each woodland tenant – perhaps it might be arranging the furniture in their home, or preparing them a meal of vegetable stew and mutilated mouse carcass retrieved from the stomach of a snake.

Hopefully it’s relatively clear at this point that this game is odd. It is indeed wonderfully strange, set in some sort of adjacent reality, where death and life seem to overlap. You are as likely to be solving object puzzles as you are to be cooking raw brains to restore the internal organs of a renter. It’s creepy, but presented as if it were anything but.

Bright, calming music plays, the art suggests a cheerful children’s storybook, while you enter a building in the eye of a person in a photograph to fix a hob to boil said brains. It’s wonderfully incongruous, borrowing very heavily from the Rusty Lake games in the best possible way.

It’s a very odd mix of inventory puzzles, traditional logic puzzles, and physics challenges, none of which make any coherent sense in their context, which is exactly as it should be. I wish it would have been a bit trickier – the earliest puzzles are equivalent to a toddler’s box with square/circle-shaped holes, and then it really doesn’t step up much beyond that. But it’s precisely the right amount of strange.

It’s pretty short, coming in easily under an hour – just about right, as I was left wanting a bit more, but delighted by the ending. Impressively this is the work of just one person, Madison Karrh, who has previously released Hello World and Whimsy. Definitely someone to follow on Itch. And for 80p, it’d be very silly not to give this a play.

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