The First Tree: Pensive Romp Through Emotions & Time

The First Tree
Which one is the second tree?

Here’s a charming third-person exploration game where you get to play as a fox! But it isn’t a simulator, it’s a story-driven experience with a serious attempt at adding emotional and philosophical heft to the experience.

The First Tree

A pensive and relaxing game from one man developer David Wehle, the story-driven title deals with a fox trying to find her missing family.

Simultaneously, a young couple discusses through voiceovers a tragedy in their lives. The man is the lead and he talks about his troubled childhood and issues with his father.

As the player, your trigger memories and discourse as the fox – she digs up certain things she finds in the rather magnnificent looking backdrop.

The First Tree is a very short game. Around 90 minutes, gameplay is pretty minimal – as is the challenge. Playing is more about taking in the spectacle and living through the story.

As its creator, whose father died of a heart attack, said:

"Cormac McCarthy's novel The Road had a huge impact on me as well. Even though The Road is about the death of the Earth (which is probably the grandest, heaviest topic you could tackle), the story focuses on a father and son, and because of that it makes it real and relatable. McCarthy wrote that book because of his son. We had our first baby in 2016, and those same themes of parenthood and life and death are explored in The First Tree."

Although initially worried The First Tree was going to be pretentious, eventually it opens up into an engaging (if rather minamalistic) experience.

The voice acting is pants, frankly, but the excellent graphical styling complements the evocative score rather well indeed. Some sections of the game are utterly breathtaking.

Stars and water in The First Tree

You can see the budget limitations in the shortness of the game, bbut it’s still something of a minor triumph. A beautiful and calmingg game with a real message behind its mission.

It’s available right now on PS4, Xbox One, Steam, and Nintendo Switch.

The Full Experience

Finally, as the game plays out more like a short film than a video game, you can watch it all above if the mood so takes you.

6 comments

  1. I have to admit I’m not really sold on these environmental narrative pieces (or walking simulators). Any work needs some kind of challenge for its protagonist, and if there is none, it’s just directionless nonsense. The First Tree seems a bit more interesting than most examples, but I just don’t think I could see myself paying money for it when there are games with more substance to them around the same price.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I think that has to do with the fact that the walking simulator is a pretty backwards-looking movement overall. Because its rules and idioms are so strict and rigid, it can’t evolve without defeating its own purpose. If a genre can’t evolve, it doesn’t have much in the way of staying power. I think that’s why they were a big deal at the beginning of this decade, but now it seems like they’re barely mentioned.

        Liked by 1 person

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