From the developers of Old Man’s Journey, Gibbon: Beyond the Trees is a powerful free-flowing adventure experience that swings through today’s global environmental issues. The adventure follows a family of Gibbons in a seamless flow of chapters, facing an existential threat from deforestation, industrial pollution, commercialisation and poaching.
This micro title which spans 10 chapters and lasts just over 1 hour long, offers a rich, deep story with amazingly fluid parkour-style mechanics. The gameplay is enjoyable in itself and offers many more hours beyond post-completion, with liberation mode to save species beyond the Gibbons, beyond the trees. This is a story to remember and live in your subconscious.
TITLE GIBBON: BEYOND THE TREES DEVELOPER BROKEN RULES RELEASE DATE APRIL, 2022 GENRE ADVENTURE, FREE-FLOW, SIDE-SCROLL PLAYERS 1 PLATFORMS STEAM PC, NINTENDO SWITCH GAME LENGTH 1 HOUR COMPLETIONIST 3-5 HOURS
the beauty of the wild
We follow a family of Gibbons enjoying the luscious beauty of the natural world: a raw, untouched foray into the wilderness with animals living peacefully in their habitat, the crashing waves of the waterfall and overgrown branches with vines hanging down ready to swing onto.
The atmosphere is beautiful alongside the signature art style of Broken Rules’ other titles. The ambient melodies are in tune with the flow of action and the sound effects grappling tree branches, vines, city roofings and billboards along urban highways. A lack of dialogue boldly highlights surreal nature sounds to really feel the wild. And I’m all for it.
Controls are fluid and straightforward with swinging and sliding action to cover the distance. It plays seamlessly on the controller and I’m sure translates just as well on the keyboard for PC. Shoulder controls let you switch between swinging and sliding at ease, with added tricks like a backflip and gymnastic leapfrog sort combined with our Gibbon companion, adding an extra dimension to swinging.
With the many heights to scale and power through whether that’s close to the ground or swinging from the crown of trees, no playthrough is the same. And once you get the hang of timing the swing, the momentum, pace and vertical are very satisfying. Hold onto a branch for too long and you lose the speed, swing too early and you lose distance and elevation. The underlying depth in the mechanics can be very immersive to master.
deforestation and poaching
With Gibbon: Beyond The Trees’ generous tutorial to get into the swing of things, the chapters ahead paint a stark picture. We swing, slide and grapple from the thriving rainforest to mechanised machinery wreaking havoc for resources. Fewer trees and burning lands make timing more important, with branches swapped for construction beams and diggers. The gradual transition and the change in landscape is an emotive backdrop to executing timed swings. A bittersweet feeling the more I proceed further.
It’s not so obvious throughout, but we learn towards the end some of the Gibbon names: Pink and Lilac. The unfamiliarity of not knowing the Gibbons as we venture through the chapters creates a perspective of respecting species in their entirety and not because of a particular attachment to these specific few we follow.
That works well as we find the natural cost to human activity – one that threatens the very existence of species and the demolition of their habitat, the palm oil industry and the ravaging of forests for consumer demands. It also highlights the unaware population of our impact on the ecosystem. For me to gather that as I play through Gibbons: Beyond the Trees is a strong testament to the Broken Rules team and their respectful, real depiction of the world today beyond our bubbled lives.
gibbons: beyond the trees
The journey evolves into a shocking twist with clashes among humans as our Gibbons venture into the heart of human society for redemption. A lively and bustling city populated with residents, high rise buildings, telephone lines, parasols to bounce our butts on and everything else a city has to offer. The story is as calm as it is gripping, and as fun to play as it is saddening. It’s the harsh reality of the world we live in and the consequence of our actions on the planet. we have to do better and Gibbon: Beyond The Trees reminds us of that. At the very least, to have the compassion to care for our wildlife and nature around us.
At 1 hour long, the story experience is short but sweet. But it doesn’t stop there. A new liberation mode unlocks post completion which allows us to swing freely in the wild and ‘liberate’ the 10 wildlife species dotted around in vine-clenching fashion. This leisure freestyle adds extra hours for the completionists and general love to enjoy a little more of the game. It has been satisfying to progress through the process.
My final thoughts on Gibbon: Beyond The Trees. It’s a rich, deep adventure title with amazingly fluid parkour mechanics. Very simply, but highly well polished and executed. It certainly gives food for thought in awareness and consciousness of our global climate but does so in a respectable and enjoyable way. The experience is one to play for yourself and I found myself honing in on my swinging craft in the jungle for that buttery smooth parkour. When all is done and dusted, Gibbon: Beyond the Trees leaves a lasting impact. Live consciously, my friends.