Game Review: The First Tree

The First Tree
Developer: David Wehle
Publisher: David Wehle
Release Date: 15 September 2017
Genre: Adventure/ exploration
Platform: PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PS4
RRP: $14.59 AUS (but often on sale and FREE on Xbox Game Pass!)

 

A beautiful, 3rd-person exploration game centered around two parallel stories: a fox trying to find her missing family, and a son reconnecting with his estranged father in Alaska. Uncover artifacts from the son’s life as he becomes intertwined in the fox’s journey towards The First Tree.

A cute game about a fox! Count me in!

First five minutes.

This game needed to come with a trigger warning.

Like, okay, it openly says it’s about death, I get it. But I was not prepared for something so confronting in the cold open.

This story is told in two parts: the onscreen part is the story of a mother fox looking for her lost cubs. The offscreen part (which you can actually switch off) is narrated by a couple in bed as they dissect the recent death of the male character’s father. It’s emotional and i was was not mentally prepared, especially since foxes are one of my absolute favourite animals and I was just so excited to play as a little fox running through a beautiful setting. It’s artistic and emotional and I loved it, even if I was a complete sobbing wreck by the end and needed a consoling cuddle from my husband.

This game was written by a solo dv, and I am so impressed. There is some clipping issues with the scenery and limitations in what the fox can do, but overall I found the gameplay good for being quite basic – it was, after all, written by one dev! It doesn’t need to be fancy to tell this story and deliver this experience. There is some attempt at collectables with shining lights you can pick up as you run over, but they don’t mean unlock anything or otherwise assist and you can just as easily ignore them.

The narrators are voiced by the dev and his wife, so they’re not professional voice actors. But they do deliver a decent, humble experience with believability, and that’s what you need in this game. There’s no heart-wrenching James Dean-like ‘you’re tearing me apart!’ moments, so you don’t need any overacting. The voices are warm, calm and thoughtful, which fits because it’s meant to be in the middle of the night when they have this ongoing conversation.

The music, actually, is one of the most impressive things about this game. It’s so incredibly beautiful. It’s beautifully written and performed and fits gloriously with each setting. I’ve listened to the soundtrack separately and it’s great for background music.

The graphics are a little basic, but still pretty. They’re very stylised, but nice to look at. You can tell it’s a fox, and you can tell it’s a tree. It’s simple, but colourful without being overbearing or clashing, and  the art work combined with the lighting effects, I believe, can make for very stunning scenery. It’s a pleasure to spend time in this landscape.

The game isn’t difficult. I really enjoy the basic concept of a walking/running/flying simulator that is made 1000% more interesting with the main character being an animal, and  despite there being an ultimate goal to reach in each level, there’s nothing stopping you from exploring the gorgeous scenery for as long as you want before you move on. I was driven by the urgency of trying to find the fox’s cubs, so I was pretty single-minded and didn’t explore as much as I could have. My next run through I might take a more relaxed approach.

All video games are purchased by myself or gifted from a friend.

Nemo
Nemo

About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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