I never thought I’d say this, but after all the blood, sweat, and tears, The First Tree is available today on Xbox One. Why is that unbelievable? I started this project as a simple way to tell a story and deal with the ideas of death, loss, and hope, and I didn’t think my hobbyist project would attract much attention. I didn’t know how to code, I had a hectic full-time job, and I was a busy new dad. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to make something beautiful, and I wanted to finish it.
At its core, The First Tree is a game about families. You play as a fox who wakes up and finds her cubs missing. This isn’t a normal world to explore however — points of light mark the land where special items reside and they tell a second, parallel story of a son reconnecting with his estranged father in Alaska. The closer the fox gets to the first tree on Earth, the closer their stories converge until a beautiful crescendo emerges at the origin of all life.
There aren’t any real enemies on this journey, but there are some puzzles which need to be conquered before moving forward. It’s a third-person exploration game focused on a poignant story. Mostly this is a chance to relax in a beautiful, melancholy world full of mysteries to uncover. It is also a chance to self-reflect, because my greatest hope is that this experience brings peace to someone in need.
The awesome thing about indie games is that they have the potential to be so intensely personal, and I have definitely worn my heart on my sleeve releasing this project. Big thanks to DO Games for their assistance in porting the game, and a big thanks to the ID@Xbox team for allowing a game like mine on Xbox One. I hope your journey to the first tree is a memorable one, and I hope you find an inkling of an answer to life’s biggest questions. Like Haruki Murakami said, “Death is not the opposite of life but an innate part of it.”