Gibbon: Beyond the Trees is quite a simple game at first glance. Most of the time, you’ll spend swinging from tree to tree, building up momentum so that you can cross some dangerous gaps and enjoy the visuals. There’s no dialogue or text to tell a grand story, but that is not necessary for what the game truly is about. It’s an interactive reminder of what humanity has done to nature and how it affects animals as a result. A soothing and relaxing experience transforms into a dark reminder of the dangers these animals face; all packaged in a memorable but brief experience.
As a mobile game, there’s not much you can say about its gameplay. You press the screen to hold on to a branch or object, where your gibbon automatically climbs up. If you hold it with both fingers while ready to land, you’ll end up in a sliding motion. Later on, you get an additional move by flicking to the right that adds some extra momentum while swinging from one branch to the other. The only real consequence you face is a slowdown if you don’t keep a consistent flow from branch to branch. At worst, there are some bigger gaps that challenge you to stick to the higher point of a tree.
The big focus point of this game is in the actual experience and seeing the environments change. What starts off with a beautiful forest, swiftly turns into a dark look at deforestation and the rise of humanity taking over the land. There are segments where it purposely takes away anything to swing off to force you to slowly make your way to a new point to start your climb once again. Especially in one section, there’s a sudden spark in danger that also has a thematic reason to exist. I just don’t want to give away what it is, because it caught me off-guard and reminded me what the game is truly about.
It’s a very short experience that you can probably get through in one sitting. Yet, it’s quite a memorable one with the sound effects of the gibbon’s soft cries. There’s a soothing soundscape that adds to the experience throughout, may it be a waterfall in the background or even a lively populated area. Everything you witness is there to relax and take it in, especially as the earlier parts try to comfort you into this experience. It even purposefully has that section I mentioned previously to pull you out of it at a time you least expect it to highlight the connection of your experience with the gibbons.
If you end up falling down a pit, the worst thing that’ll happen is that you respawn at an earlier point to build up the momentum you need to jump over that gap. I do believe it’s more of an interactive experience that has a very important cause behind it and it’s very admiring what Broken Rules have accomplished here. The game is currently available through Apple Arcade but is eyeing a release on Steam and Nintendo Switch. I highly recommend giving it a shot, it’s a short yet important experience that’ll surely pull at your heartstrings.