The First Tree (2018) is an exploration narrative game. In a dream, you explore a forest wilderness as a mother fox looking for her cubs. Simultaneously, you revisit childhood memories in spoken reflection from two lovers remembering the dream and their formative years.
During the game, we hear the man and his partner discussing the dream and how it relates to his life, in particular his distant relationship with his father, who has now passed away. He deals with his regrets of not having spoken to his father more. Meanwhile, his partner supports him and reassures him that together they are still family and still have each other. Though this game deals with the feelings of an adult losing their parent, with complex dialogue to match, this game has a relatable emotional content for young people playing with adult supervision.
It's a poignant and beautiful journey, told from the perspective of a young adult looking back at their growing up. As it crescendos on arrival at a large tree you realise the landscape and the parent-child memories have become intertwined.
"The path was luminous before her and it led to something ancient, so she ran," says the narrator. While the fox isn't as lifelike as other games, it's the landscape that is the real encounter here. Big and open enough to get lost in, to run and run and run in, but not so big as to frustrate for very long. Through a wide range of terrain and seasons, the game is a chance to find calm and space for your own reflection.
Because there is no way to die or fail, and there are no enemies, this is a game that is good to try as one of your first. Or to play with a young player. With this in mind, you still need to apply some logic at times and deal with the slightly finicky interface. Triggering the three tree stumps in the middle level foiled some, but you just need to stand on them and press A in time with the falling light-bug.
It features an orchestral soundtrack by acclaimed artists like Message to Bears, Lowercase Noises, and Josh Kramer.
Our examiner, Andy Robertson
, first checked The First Tree 3 years ago. It was re-examined by Jo Robertson
and updated 14 months ago.