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Title: The First Tree
Genre: Adventure/Exploration, Walking Simulator, Drama
Developer: David Wehle
Release Date: September 14, 2017
System: Nintendo Switch
The First Tree is a gorgeous, atmospheric game where you play as a fox hunting for her lost cubs through various seasonal landscapes. In truth the fox and her search are the dream of the narrator as he attempts to work through childhood trauma culminating in one final blow. As you, the player, control the vixen, the unseen storyteller talks to someone we assume is his wife about his father and childhood in the Alaskan wilderness, which the fox now explores.
Draped over the exquisite environment, the story intertwines with the vixen’s search in the dream. Man-made artifacts and castoffs are strewn about, many of which the narrator will comment on if they hold some significance such as his sketchbook. Others might be mentioned and discovered later like a lumberyard or abandoned police car, the latter which recalls a particularly offensive escapade.
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Genre: Walking Simulation, Puzzle – Drama
Developer: Giant Sparrow, SCE Studio Santa Monica
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Let’s Player: Cryaotic
There will be another to these shores to remember me. I will rise from the ocean like an island without bottom, come together like a stone, become an aerial, a beacon that they will not forget you. We have always been drawn here: one day the gulls will return and nest in our bones and our history.
Part walking simulation, part puzzle, all bittersweet, What Remains of Edith Finch is a deep plunge into the tragic history of the Finch family by Edith, the last daughter of the clan. Equal parts history and mystery, the the game follows Edith as she wanders through the halls of her family’s lopsided home, recording the lost stories discovered behind sealed doors. Named for her great-grandmother, Edith chronicles the lives and deaths of her family members who all succumbed to a mysterious “curse” her great-grandfather Odin brought with him across the sea. Every member of the Finch family found an early quietus save for one child of each generation who survived long enough to make the next.
There’s an eeriness about the game that doesn’t quite border on scary with many of the deaths occurring under potentially supernatural circumstances (e.g. Molly and Milton), and the beauty of it is that the true or false of such is left for the player to divine. Since I watched the game, I can’t speak for the details of gameplay, but had I the time, I would’ve been able to play through it (and I may possibly do so for a future Let’s Play or stream). There are no enemies to vanquish nor points to score, and the puzzles are not only intuitive, but intricately connect to each relative’s story.