Steam Game Review – The First Tree

The First Tree is an atmospheric adventure game that focuses on the story of a young man trying to reconnect with his estranged father. Players take on the roll of a fox he’s been dreaming about and uncover objects from his childhood memories while trying to find her lost fox pups.

Release Date: September 14th, 2017
Developer: David Wehle
Publisher: David Wehle
Format: PC Game
First playthrough time: 2 hours

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The First Tree features beautiful landscapes to explore

Major Pros:

  • Story of feels
  • Beautiful environment

Minor Pros:

  • Variety of collectibles
  • Minor easter eggs
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Digging in marked areas reveals buried memories

Major Cons:

  • Slow

Minor Cons:

  • I had some problems with depth perception when jumping
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To find all the item, this entire valley needs to be explored on foot

The main focus of The First Tree is experiencing the story of the son Joseph in relation to his estranged father. In the dialog, Joseph has recently awoken from a dream which is filled with memorable objects from his childhood and a fox. He relates his childhood memories, from those that are most precious to the ones he most regrets. The fox is on an explorative quest to find her missing pups and along her journey finds many childhood objects from across the years of Joseph’s memories.

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Finding items spurs Joseph to talk about his childhood memories

The world of The First Tree is beautiful. There’s lots of soft colors and lighting with grass, trees, and water everywhere. I enjoyed exploring the different areas to find the collectibles and listening to the story while moving from one to the next. The game hides different stars and buried objects all around the game so it’s fun exploring the nooks and crannies for them. Objects provide story dialog while stars are unnecessary, but lead the player to new areas and provide a small bonus at the end of the game.

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The light in the distance marks an item of interest

Exploring also helps players find some of the hidden secret items and easter eggs in the game. My favorites were the references to the developer’s prior game Home is Where One Starts… which I reviewed shortly after its release. There’s also a funny out of the way easter egg where players can get a giant rabbit to appear.

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Dialog in this level subtly references the developer’s prior game Home is Where One Starts…

While the world of The First Tree is expansive, the vast space makes it slow to explore. If players don’t keep pace in finding items to trigger dialog, they can end up just running around in circles listening to the music. This is most likely to happen to players who care most about the story and are working to find every collectible and secret. In my case this also happened when I failed a number of the double jumps and missed a star suspended in the air. This lead to running back around, and while I recognize it’s my own skill level at platforming that causes this, I often felt myself wishing things were smaller in scale because running speed just wasn’t cutting it.

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The grand scale of the scenery makes it pretty, but time consuming to traverse

Overall I found the The First Tree to be beautiful and relaxing while presenting an emotional and believable story. I liked finding the collectibles and exploring the world. After playing both of the explorative story games by David Wehle, I hope to see more from him. I recommend The First Tree for players looking for a relaxing, emotional, and explorative story game.

Find this game at the publisher’s website or on Steam.

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