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Gibbon: Beyond the Trees is a title we have been following, and it was surprisingly released during the recent Indie World Showcase. This unique platformer follows an infinite runner format with a little bit of a twist, and it follows a family of gibbons as they struggle with their world being overtaken by humans. This is a narrative piece that speaks volumes in its short yet powerful presentation.
So does Gibbon: Beyond the Trees accomplish its task of being a solid game and an influential narrative? Or does this one fall from the trees? Let’s find out!
The story is rather simple despite its terrible and heavy undertones. You play as a gibbon with a partner and a child, and at first things seem rather normal, as your partner is helping you to learn the basics of swinging and jumping through the trees. You then notice that things are not as lighthearted as they initially seemed, and it appears that the jungle is being taken over.
This is a touching adventure that puts into perspective the difficulty that animals face when being forced out of their element, and in that, Gibbon: Beyond the Trees paints a wonderful picture that many people need to understand. As the human population grows more and more, this problem is only going to affect the animals we love in tremendous ways (As it already has).
The gameplay is where things are turn down a bit, because this is not the most challenging playing experience (Except for a couple areas). Although the narrative is a tough one to digest, the game is rather easy. Gibbon: Beyond the Trees feels like an infinite platformer with a little more meat thanks to its story, but instead of the stereotypical running scenario, you control the gibbon with the triggers that indicate run (L) and swing (R). Letting go of either trigger initiates a jump, and learning to make this flow takes a little time.
The ongoing tutorial is quite nice to help get used to the flow of swinging, running, flipping, and more, and watching your partner go ahead of you and demonstrate the proper actions is a lovely and natural means of showing you how to play. Not only that, but randomly throughout, your partner gibbon will position itself so that you can grab on to its arms and get an even greater swing! Things like this are really fun and make for a satisfying experience despite the ease of gameplay.
Dying (Falling into abysses, essentially, and some other sad situations) is of no problem, too, as resetting takes no time. It does take you back a little bit, because the momentum of your swings is important for some of the bigger jumps in the game. Don’t worry, though. These jumps are not too difficult, and like I said, retrying is painless and you will get the hang of it over time.
The lack of directional control is a bit weird, as I still found myself regularly pushing right on the joystick, but I guess the simple controls allow for less problems over the course of the short campaign. The whole thing takes roughly an hour, which does not feel like a lot of time for a $15 game, but there is some more value behind the short playtime. For starters, the artwork is incredible, and the soundtrack is perfect for this game. Not only does the entire game itself advocate for a fantastic cause, but there is more to do once you clear the main story and there are even collectables to get.
Gibbon: Beyond the Trees is a stellar experience. Unfortunately, though, it is bogged down a little by the slow and simple gameplay, as well as the occasional framerate hiccups. Outside of that, though, this is a phenomenal experience for so many reasons. The story is magnificently done in such a way for anyone to understand the plight of these types of animals, and the artwork and soundtrack are top class for a simple swinging platformer like this.
Sure, it may be short and may not have a lot of replay value, but Gibbon: Beyond the Trees is a title well worth your time and money. Broken Rules has put together a powerful narrative that expresses itself over the course of swinging through trees, vines, wires, and buildings, and it is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.
Very powerful narrative about the plight of gibbons
Incredible soundtrack and sound design
Very short experience
Occasional framerate issues
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.