This is the one hundred forty-sixth entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1741 games and game-related things included in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,149,829.66 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Our one hundred forty-sixth random selection from the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality is staggering into view, trying not to fall over. It’s OddyTree, by Zwi Zausch, and its tagline in the bundle reads:

A tree odyssey, keep your balance and reach the edge of the birch-forest!

That hyphen makes it sound like someone who got both of their parents’ last names. Jennifer Birch-Forest.

Zwi Zausch works on Dorfromantik now, as part of developers Toukana Interactive. Dorfromantik was a recent hit, its relaxing tile-based city building resonating with many players. OddyTree is a much smaller thing, made for the IndieSchoolTrip Jam in 2019. This game jam ran from August 27 to September 1, 2019, although Zwi Zausch made a few updates to OddyTree after the jam was over, bringing it up to v1.2.

Even so, OddyTree is quite simple. Players control a birch tree which is upset about the Swedish village that’s sprouted up nearby, and decides to head to the forest on the other side. But trees aren’t very good at walking, so players need to be careful not to fall over. Using both WASD and the arrow keys, players must move the tree and simultaneously balance its crown so it doesn’t topple. Any movement upsets the balance, so constant corrections are needed.

This sounded like it would lead to instant chaos, frantically careening around while barely able to keep balanced. In practice, however, I found it was easy to stay upright. There are a bunch of houses, picket fences, and hedges between the tree and its goal, but on my first try I managed to cross the village and reach the forest in about a minute. I tried again a few times to take different routes through, but there’s not much else to OddyTree. It’s clear it was made in a short time, as it has just the one single village to cross, and no sound whatsoever.

I suspect OddyTree would be more entertaining in the optional two-player mode, in which one person controls the tree’s feet while the other tries to balance. Without the inherent coordination of a single player, things should get chaotic quickly. But even playing by myself I found things to like about it. The tree has a cute little face on it, smiling while upright but quickly adopting an expression of consternation once it starts to lean. The tree’s rapidly scrabbling root-feet are funny, as is the dust trail it leaves in its wake as it walks. And the occasional tree stump with a woodcutter’s axe embedded in it serves as a reminder of why the tree is taking this trek.

OddyTree only occupied me for a few minutes, but it was amusing enough. And if you’ve got someone to share the controls with, it could be genuinely hilarious. Don’t worry if you missed it in the bundle, because it’s available for any price you wish to pay, including free.

That’s 146 down, and only 1595 to go!