Notes on Tree: All the Little Decisions


I’ve done this review in the form of a visual poem. The game in question, by Team Tree, may be downloaded here. It can be played in minutes.

 

Tree is a game that grows

first in the sense that, quite literally, it expands upward and outward as you play

and secondly in the sense that, it’s the sort of thing that leaves a distinct afterimage for days

and days after you play it. It’s a game that’s more like calligraphy, weaving the root into a complex network of curious blue birds,

brittle ebony branches like the pointing fingers of an old witch, blushing pink magnolias in bloom,

and the bright orange bulbs of some strange fruit.

One, or two players control the hand-inked black boughs—or one player controls both—

and, using keyboard keys, slowly guide the boughs left, right or forward,

leaving behind a streak of black ink on the scrolling parchment, ever growing skyward.

This brush stroke, a trail of bark left behind by the bough,

forms the trunk,

   and as it twists and swerves, the solid foundation of the tree, t

   forms knots                                                                                                  u        g   

and bumps,                                                                                                      r     n

and lines,                                                                                                     o n   i t s elf,

and cracks,                                                  w                                                   

and blossoming all along                           o

its surface,                                                 r

all the beautiful life i had selected to g

like l e

        a v

or         e  s,

                   p

   poweru     ,

or the

impressionistic blots

of diluted paint.

And the music,

calm and lilting,

encourages me

upward, like rain.

I collect the seeds,

powerful things,

and I see all the details

up close, too close

astounded

by both the beauty

and all the minutiae.

Like all small decisions,

I’m unsure if I’m making

anything of it,

not quite certain

how it all

adds up,

until it pulls b

                          a n d  I

                       c

                     k         a

witness the sum            n

                                     of my handiwork. 

                                             

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