The First Tree – Review
Follow Genre: Adventure
Developer: David Wehle
Publisher: David Wehle
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

The First Tree – Review

Site Score
7.7
Good: Well executed, emotional story
Bad: It's easy to get lost
User Score
10.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

The First Tree is a game which tells a story about life and loss, through the journey of a fox looking for her missing cubs in the Alaskan woods. The game is similar to Journey and Dear Esther, in how it tells a story through exploration. The First Tree is developed and published by David Wehle, a one-man indie game studio.

the first tree logo

Story

The First Tree is a story about loss. The game starts with a red fox, alone in the snow, who sets out to explore the world around her. As you walk around, you’ll hear narration, a man named Joseph and a woman named Rachel are talking about their lives and their feelings. The man dreamed about a fox who lost her cubs, and is now journeying to the First Tree; the origin of life itself, to learn where her cubs might have gone. As you run around as the fox and looking for your cubs, you’ll encounter buried objects related to the man’s memories of his youth, and especially the memories about his father. Each object you find triggers a new memory, which will be narrated by Joseph and Rachel. The narration tells you a part of the story of Joseph’s youth and his life choices, and his relation with his father.

The integration of the fox’s story and the human story is very well done, especially when you experience how everything comes together at the very end of the game.

The first tree screen 1

Graphics

The game looks absolutely gorgeous. You’ll travel through colorful landscapes in different seasons, and all environments you’ll encounter have a great atmosphere to them. Sometimes you’ll walk through snow, then you’ll run through a beautiful spring forest, or you’ll travel past a herd of deer or through a shallow lake underneath a sea of stars. The textures are simple and the colors are bright, which gives the game a cartoony, stylized vibe. However, at the very end of the game you’ll see the same environment in more detail.

Sound

There’s beautiful, calm classical music accompanying you on your journey. However, there are also long stretches of silence in-between the music, where you’ll just hear some environmental sounds and the fox running. The moments of quiet fit the game, but it would have been nice to have a bit more music playing when you are just running around exploring and searching for more clues.  The narration you’ll hear when you encounter memories is done well; you can hear the emotions in the voices of the narrators.

the first tree screen 4

Gameplay

The First Tree is an adventure game where you mostly walk around, exploring the vast forests around you. You’ll encounter different objects in the environment which are all linked to the life of the narrator. You’ll need to look out for plumes of swirling light, which indicate buried memories. Finding these will trigger another part of the story.

Gameplay-wise things are very simple: you can run, jump, or interact just by simple button presses. Finding your way is not always easy as the forest around you is pretty big and the way you must go isn’t always obvious. However, if you look around for objects or lights and go toward those, it usually becomes more clear where you need to go.

There are twinkling stars you can collect as you play, and these often serve as an indicator of where you need to go. Collecting these doesn’t really win you anything, because the game is not about winning, but they do serve a purpose which fits well within the emotional tone of this game.

the first tree screen 3

There’s a lot of platforming involved in getting around. The platforming can be tricky, because it’s often not exactly clear when you need to start your jump in order to make it to the next platform. However, you can retry endlessly, and there’s no penalty for missing a jump.

Since this game is more of an emotional journey, you can’t die in this game. The only way you’ll get hurt is when you, as a player, get sad. There are a few more animals you’ll encounter on your journey as a fox, but you can’t hunt them or get hurt by them; they just roam around the environment, or run away from you as you approach them.

the first tree screen 2

Conclusion

The First Tree is a beautiful game which tells a meaningful story about life. This is a rather short game, about one to two hours of playtime. The game is visually stunning, and has a beautiful, fitting soundtrack. The story is emotional and feels relatable, and the way this story is told through the journey of the fox, is absolutely beautiful.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
The First Tree - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Anmaja
Anmaja


I'm a LARP writer, freelance teacher and everlasting PhD student, and an avid gamer. Nowadays I game mostly on PC, but I love my retro playstation 1 & 2 as well :) I like watching anime, movies and series, and read books & comics whenever I have time!

No Comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.