Game: Gibbons: Beyond the Trees
Genre: Action, Platformer, Indie
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam (Windows & macOS) and Mobile)
Developer|Publisher: Broken Rules
Age Rating: EU 3 | US E10+
Price: US $14.99 | UK £11.99 | EU € 14,99
Release Date: May 12th, 2022
Review code provided with many thanks to Future Friends Games.
Gibbons: Beyond the Trees is a casual adventure where you play a gibbon on an expedition into unknown lands. This is a relaxing title which is suitable for all audiences. Sporting a beautiful art style, incredible use of sound, and a strong message about the struggles real Gibbons put up with that’s executed really well here. This original title instantly clicked with me the moment I picked it up. If you’re looking for something original but not too taxing on your gaming skills, then I highly recommend picking up Gibbons.
The Call of the Wild
The game starts with a short story mode which clocks in at well under 2 hours. You begin the game as a pink gibbon enjoying family time with a yellow gibbon and your blue baby. Then before you know it, you’re swinging through the trees and observing the changes to the environment. There is no dialogue in this game, but it presents some excellent sound effects from the forest to the calls of the gibbons themselves. Initially, the narrative is very calming and will likely give you the feels as you swing around the trees and even see your yellow gibbon partner following closely behind with baby in tow. But soon, the plot veers into more dangerous territory. I really don’t want to spoil the story since it’s worth experiencing for yourself. I will say the developers touch on subjects of deforestation, poaching and exploiting animals for entertainment. In this short piece of gameplay, I felt so many emotions playing the story. I was calm, happy, scared, sad and then inspired. It was quite the roller coaster turning into an experience that I feel will stick with me for years to come.
The graphics are beautifully hand-drawn. Impressive attention to detail is given to the environments. As you swing through the trees, birds fly out and fruit drop from the branches. When you head into human areas, you swing off the buildings whilst observing a huge amount of NPCs just walking around getting on with their days. You will also explore the world during the day and night, observing familiar environments differently from before.
Pick up and Swing
The gameplay is simple to pick up play for all gaming audiences. Your gibbon will continuously move to the right of the screen. The idea is to hold one shoulder button to swing off branches, then let go at the edge to leap to the next one. You then use the other shoulder button to walk or grind down downward sloping platforms. If you get enough air time, you can perform a backflip in the air where if you stick the landing, it will give you a speed boost. The most charming move by far is that you can hold hands with your gibbon partner and swing off each other every now and then.
If you really get into the rhythm, you can really speed about in this game, and it’s incredibly cathartic if it clicks. Failure is very rare. You can die, but you are simply dropped back at a close checkpoint. Even if you lose your flow, your gibbon simply slows down until you build up momentum again. There is no penalty for not getting things correct. A casual player could even just play this game with a single shoulder button and succeed. It’s really just you and the trees. A small niggle is it’s a shame the developers didn’t include some form of score system for the gamers that want a little bit of extra challenge
Free Your Friends
Other than the short story mode, the game offers a mode called ‘Liberation’, where you will probably spend most of your time. Here you continue to swing through the environments, but you need to try to rescue animals trapped in cages along the way by simply touching them. If you miss one, it’s not a problem just continue on and try again when the opportunity presents itself. When you rescue all the animals, you are treated to something quite pleasant to observe on screen. Then you continue on to rescue more animals.
I guess the game is a little light on content, but for me I honestly found it incredibly relaxing and calming after a rough day at work, thanks to the simple gameplay and beautiful art and sounds. I encountered no issues with the game’s performance on TV or handheld. Though the game initially takes quite a while to load in when booting up. But the upside to this is there are very few loading screens after that.
Conclusion – No Monkey Business
Gibbons is a game that really clicked with me from the moment I picked it up. I’ve reviewed many games for this wonderful website and lovely surprises like this keep me coming back to writing time and time again. I will add some caution that this game will not click with everyone. Some will likely see this as simply a Monkey swinging simulator, and the gameplay may not click.
It’s rare to play a game where the developer’s message resonates so clearly and leaves me thinking for days, contemplating and inspired. I’m a huge supporter of animal charities myself, and this felt like such a good way to bring awareness to an overlooked issue. I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to cover this game. I sure hope you give it a chance too. If not, then please consider supporting a charity that speaks to you.
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up