The First Tree is Something Truly Special

The First Tree is an interesting sort of game that I have to approach a bit differently than I would my usual game reviews.  The big difference here is…The First Tree is not really a video game.  It is, but it’s not.  It’s more like an interactive story than anything else.  So if it’s a traditional game you’re after, you might want to pass this one up.  But if you’re interested in something a bit different, then by all means, read on.

The First Tree was created by one person, David Wehle, and from what I remember reading in the past, he bought a lot of the assets used in the game.  In fact, this game is already a bit extraordinary in that it was not made by someone with experience creating games.  The most important thing about this game is not the gameplay, but the story.  The First Tree takes about two hours to complete, so you may want to wait until it goes on sale (I got it for $3, though it’s usually $9.99).  You spend this time running through various landscapes as a fox searching for her three missing babies, all the while unlocking narration from a man and his wife as he recounts his past.  As you cross snowy and forested terrains, you collect little glowing lights, dig up memories (literally), and encounter all kinds of objects strewn about the landscape from the man’s memories.

Screenshot by The Duck of Indeed

This game is only good for someone who wants a relaxing experience.  At first, I’ll admit that I was getting a bit bored with the game, but after taking a short break, I returned to it with a renewed willingness to take my time and just enjoy the experience, which made all the difference.  This game is very tranquil, and as such, it is not something to be rushed.  I also want to point out that, while the graphics aren’t the best or anything, there are some stunning vistas that make up for it, making this game surprisingly beautiful, yet modest.

Screenshot by The Duck of Indeed

While my initial interest in the game quickly turned to apathy during that first hour or so, I’m really glad I kept playing because it’s a really poignant tale when all’s said and done.  Hearing the man’s story and seeing objects from his past as he talks about growing up and the relationship he had with his father became quite emotional by the end, and the conclusion of the fox’s journey was just…it needs to be experienced to be properly understood.  I haven’t cried that hard since GRIS, another game that I’d count as one of the saddest and most beautiful of all time.

I…might be tearing up right now just thinking about it.

Screenshot by The Duck of Indeed

Again, I would probably recommend waiting until this game goes on sale because roughly $10 for 2 hours (or less) seems like a bit much, but boy, was it worth it.  The First Tree is like no other, and though it’s really not a video game in the traditional sense, it certainly serves as a strong argument that video games can be so much more than just idle entertainment.  They can tell stories that more passive media like books and movies never can.

Who else has played The First Tree?  Did you enjoy it or did you find it lacking?  Please let me know in the comments below!

This post was originally published on The Duck of Indeed on November 20, 2020.

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