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18 Apr 2022

REVIEW: The First Tree on Nintendo Switch

Review by Jon Donnis
From the mind of David Wehle comes The First Tree. A 3rd person exploration / walking (galloping??) sim, that has you playing the part of a fox trying to find her missing cubs, which itself is part of a retelling of a dream that the narrator is talking to his wife about, but that also becomes a story of a son reconnecting with his estranged father in Alaska.

That might sound slightly complicated, but it isn't really. You play as the fox, but as you progress through the game, you will hear the conversation of the narrator. The story he tells of reconnecting to his father, becomes a parallel story to that of a fox trying to find their missing cubs.

As this is an exploration game /walking sim, this is more about the story, than the gameplay itself, you will explore areas, collect artifacts, dig up things that expand the story being told. And if you play with commentators' mode on, you can also find audio clips that further tell the story from the game makers perspective, and give insight into how the game was made, the thought processes and so on. I would highly recommend playing with the commentator's mode turned on.

You will play through various landscapes, each one as beautiful as the last.

The First Tree really is a game created by one man, and although his real-life wife is part of the narration, and a beautiful musical score, you can really feel that this is a creation by one man, and his love for the game shines through.

The stunning cell-shaded graphics are gorgeous to look at, the music is great, and although a relatively short game, about 2 hours to complete, the meditative nature of the game will leave you feeling quite fulfilled. I was slightly reminded of Journey on the PS4. If you were a fan of that, then you will like this.

There are puzzles to solve, and platforming elements, but nothing too difficult, mainly how to reach areas, powering up your jumps with butterflies, but in general this is more a game that you should play to really lower your heart rate, to relax to. 

The Good
This is more of an experience than a game, and it's a good experience, a deep and meaningful story, mixed with beautiful music and stunning graphics. A truly meditative game.

The Bad
There are sometimes long periods of you just going in one direction without much else going on, but if you have headphones on, and are relaxed in the moment you won't notice. And also, the game is quite short.

The First Tree is a meditative experience, that is the best way to explain it. No enemies to kill or avoid, just a chill out experience.

I score The First Tree a fair 8/10

Out now on Nintendo Switch

The First Tree will be available for Nintendo Switch, as a Limited Edition and Special Limited Edition, with pre-orders launching on Sunday, 5th of December at 12 AM CET (midnight), only at Strictly Limited Games.

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