The First Tree

Game image The First Tree
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Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC and PlayStation 4

Genres: Creative, Narrative, Open World, Platform and Puzzle

Released: October 2018. Added to this library 3 months ago, last updated 11 weeks ago.

Overview

The First Tree 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 finickety 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.

 
This game is good if you want to play aging characters, harm no living thing, connect with grandparents, escape life's storms for a while, find hope, process loss, engage your emotions or play your first video game.

Commitment

Duration: This game will take between 2 hours and 3 hours to complete.
 
Players: This is a single player game. Although it’s a solitary game, at a certain point you get to leave a poignant message that will appear in other people’s game. The massages are vetted by the developer and add weight to the closing scenes of he game.

Costs

Does not include in-game purchases, 'loot boxes' or 'battle/season passes'.

Ratings

Rated PEGI 3+. There are some references to alcohol present.

In addition to the ratings parents and carers should also note that themes of family estrangement and parent-conflict run through the coming-of-age story. There are also dead fox cubs that you discover along the way.

This game has been rated ESRB EVERYONE.

Accessibility

System settings: Nintendo Switch has some built-in features, including a lockable zoom, that can be used on all games. Windows has extensive accessibility features. Some, like colour correction, work with games. Lots of accessibility software can be used with PC games, from voice recognition to input device emulators. PlayStation 4 has a range of accessibility settings. Some are system only, some work in games (invert colours and button mapping)... read more.


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The First Tree is in These Lists

In addition to the similar games listed above, which have been linked to this game specifically in the database, you may find games with a similar theme to The First Tree in the following lists:

Your First Video Game

These games are perfect if you’ve never played one before, opening the door to the gaming world for non-gaming parents and carers. They are short, straightforward and easy to understand, so you don’t need to commit hours to learn to play them, and they are played on technology you probably already have in your pocket or in your home. They address mature themes such as love, hope, power, homelessness and even traffic planning by inviting you to interact and play a part in these worlds and stories.

We've found that it's not just parents who have enjoyed the way these games let them in on the world of gaming, but grandparents, uncles and aunts. In fact it's a great list for anyone who's never played a game and wants to know what all the fuss is about.
 

Wake Up Your Emotions

Video games are known for high-octane, adrenaline-fuelled entertainment, but there are many that address the player’s emotions as much as their dexterity. Often overlooked by younger or more competitive players, these experiences can provide a helpful variety in the diet of games your family enjoys.
The games selected below create emotionally rich spaces in which to explore scenarios with feelings rather than facts. In some games this is achieved with beautiful or soothing interactive visuals; others create charged relationships and settings that invite players to take a role in processing these emotions.
 

Find Calm From The Storm

These games offer ways to consciously step outside the day's stresses and pressures to create space for self-care. This may be to distract yourself with calming unpressured tasks or to visit a world that is tranquil and relaxing or maybe just spend time reflecting on your emotions in a safe space.
 

Hope Through Play

Games that embed a sense of hope by playing them. Sometimes a hopeful story, sometimes a hopeful interaction, and sometimes just an uplifting aesthetic to spend time in. These are games that leave you with an uplifted spirit, maybe not immediately (like Horizon Zero Dawn) but by the time you have finished them.

There is something innocent and childlike in play, and video games each have a slice of that in different ways. Sometimes simple and sometimes complex, games can help us return to the hope we had as children, or call us on to the wisdom and perspective of older years.
 

Commit No Violence

While a significant portion of video games focus on combat and competition, these titles offer a less aggressive way to progress and win. None of these games enable or require the player to cause harm to another living thing -- even Mario's merciless campaign to stomp on every Goomba he meets bars him from this list. Or then there's catching and selling fish in Animal Crossing that rule that one out.

Many of them are aimed at children and families, but you'll be surprised how many explore deeper, more mature themes in their narratives, or require just as much skill as a fast-paced first-person shooter. This means there's plenty of offer for parents who might lack the reflexes (or interest) to survive a round of Fortnite.

We've focused on the games you might not expect to be played non-violently here, but you can find the full list at Non-Violent Games Of the Day curated by James Batchelor.
 

Space For Grief

Games include interactions, narratives and characters dealing with all aspects of life (and death). This means that some care is necessary if players are sensitive to losing significant people. But also, games can provide a helpful space in which to process, consider and understand death and loss.

Image 162 I've come up with some games that explore this topic, along with help and suggestions from Gaming The Mind (Twitter), an organisation of UK-based mental health professionals who aim to promote positive mental health within the gaming community. By focusing on the intersection between gaming and mental health, they want to raise awareness of mental health challenges and reduce the stigma surrounding these issues.

"We express grief in different ways depending on our age," they said. "To help children cope with loss, it is important that they receive honest explanations about death, appropriate to their level of understanding. With these games, players may find valuable space in which to acknowledge grief as a completely normal reaction to bereavement."

"The games we have selected don't necessarily offer an ideal way to cope with death but tackle the topic of death openly and with a positive attitude. They can help show the player that they are not alone in what they are going through. Playing these games with young people, and answering questions they might have along the way, can be a useful starting point for important conversations about grief."
 

Ease Loneliness With Intergenerational Games

There are many reasons, stages of life and circumstances that can leave us feeling isolated and lonely (and of course at the moment this is intensified with the virus lockdown). Being unable to be in the same place as loved ones. Not understanding the modern world. Barriers of mobility or impairments. Social anxiety and other mental health issues.

Video games are one way that we can reconnect with each other, without needing to be in the same place. Finding games to play online with grandparents and carers is not only a good way to keep in touch but a lot of fun.

Image 171 The games on this page are part of the PLAY&TALK Weekend, which has launched in time for National Loneliness Awareness Week, aims to reduce feelings of isolation by getting people to talk with friends or family safely online. Backed by over 30 companies in the games industry, the Play&Talk weekend hopes to initiate 10,000 extra conversations across the UK through the power of games.
All the games have been select to be easy to play for new gamers and many of them have been used in a broad range of cultural settings, being incorporated into Cathedral services, arts festivals, well-being retreats and educational contexts.
 

Come To Terms With Ageing

In a culture that holds up youth as an ideal rather than a stage of life, it can be hard to embrace our ageing lives, bodies and dreams. The games in this list offer a chance to step into the shoes of older protagonists as well as spend time with people coming to terms with the ticking clock themselves.
 
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