Game Title: The First Tree
Company: David Wehle
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 3 – 4 hours
Cloud Save Support: Yes
Download: 2.3 GB

It’s always a treat to get away from the super action-filled games and have a nice, casual game to just relax and enjoy a cute and colorful game for the fun of winding down. I’ve played a few games like this, but not many. flOw from PlayStation platforms definitely comes to mind, and I’ve been told games like Flower are similar as well.

The game we’re going to talk about today is that very kind of game, though I didn’t expect it to be when I first went out to get it. Filled with colorful cel-shaded visuals and developed by a single person, here is my review of The First Tree for the Nintendo Switch!

Story

tree 2 - story

This game actually has two stories interconnected together. You play as a Fox, hunting the wilderness for her lost cubs. However, this adventure takes place in a dream someone in the real world has that he is telling to his girlfriend as they reminesce on his own childhood and something going on in their life.

The thing that I really like about this game’s plot is the fact that you hear about everything going on in the narrator’s life and see how that is represented and shown in his dream, as the Fox comes across many things from the man’s life. It’s like living inside your own dream and being able to take apart the pieces to see exactly what those dreams mean. It’s a really unique way of telling a story.

Gameplay

tree 3 - gameplay

The First Tree is a 3D adventure game that is centered around exploration and platforming. During each part of the story, you play as the Fox and explore large areas in adventure game fashion.

The main thing pointing you forward in the game is the story. In each area, you have shining pillars of light where you can interact with objects and spark the next bit of voiced dialogue to tell you about the area you’re in and to push you towards the next one.

tree 4 - cop car

Reaching those objects is all a matter of exploration and platforming. In some of the larger areas, it can take a fair amount of exploring to find the areas where these pillars are, and many are placed on high platforms, meaning you need to platform around the environment. This mostly just consists of jumping on platforms, though one area does have you collecting Butterflies for high jumps.

This works pretty well, though these mechanics do feel a bit clunky. You can easily get stuck to the sides of objects and getting interaction markers to recognize can be very finicky, even across the same type of object in the same level.

The formula works pretty well, though, as it’s pretty straightforward with where you’re suppsoed to go, and there’s a little bit of side content you can look for that ties into the game’s ending. The experience is pretty short, though. I spent a fair amount of time exploring around and trying to get to areas just to see if I could, and I beat the game in well under 1.5 hours. It’s a fun experience, but not a long-lived one.

Controls

Controlling the game is pretty simple. No touch or motion controls, so no need to worry about special controls for handheld mode.

You can move around with the Left Analog Stick and move the Camera with the Right Analog Stick. You can swap between walking and running with the Y button and interact with objects with the A button. B lets you jump and that’s about all there is to it. It’s a very simple game.

Presentation

tree 6 - pres

Graphically, this game looks incredibly pretty and colorful. The cel-shading looks great in the environment and there’s a ton of detail, all the way down to showing sun ray effects in the forested areas. It’s a truly beautiful world you get to explore.

The audio has a tiny problem with its dialogue. There are a lot of pops and clicks in the recorded audio from the narrators. It’s still good quality audio, but there could definitely be some easy polishing done in a lot of the dialogue segments.

Performance, however, is great. Frame-rate is nice and steady and i never had any problems with freezing or crashing.

Battery Life

When it comes to Battery, the fact that this is a short game helps things out a lot. But still, here are my times from 100% to 0%

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 16 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 31 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 08 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 21 minutes

It has quite a bit of Battery Life. Much more than you’ll need to get through the game.

In conclusion, The First Tree is a beautiful game, both in terms of visuals and story. It definitely has flaws through some clunky mechanics and not much content for the asking price. But if you’re ever wanting a calming adventure game, it’d be a great pick when it’s on sale.

Final Score: 8/10