Gibbon Beyond the Trees is an advocacy side-scrolling adventure game that lets you swing through the jungles of Indonesia in the hopes of finding freedom. The simple controls, beautiful graphics, and mesmerizing music make it a great pastime.
This game takes about an hour to finish but the impact it has stays for long. Find out why in this short review.
Gameplay and Controls
Gibbon Beyond the Trees has simple yet effective gameplay. You control “Pink”, an adult gibbon traversing the Indonesian jungle with its husband, Yellow, and daughter, Lilac.
The trio swings run and jump through the trees in a linear side-scrolling fashion. The developers mentioned that the game simulates the way gibbons swing in real life and I think they did a great job.
Moving throughout the forest is easy but I did encounter some hiccups when I pressed jump and I got delayed for a bit. Some assets that are “swingable” are not that visible too so I missed some of them.
The game is all about maintaining momentum. Go slow and you lose speed, but once you get going the “brachiation” or moving from one branch to another is phenomenal.
Sliding and jumping are smooth too. Don’t forget to mix and match both movement options for more speed.
The controls are easy. You can control Pink using the mouse alone or by using the keyboard. I tried all possible control options and by far, using the mouse or the keyboard is the best.
At first, I tried using a controller but despite indicating full controller support on Steam, I could not make it work. It reads my controller but it disconnects and would never work again.
There are two game modes, the regular story, and Liberation – a race to freedom mode.
Gibbon: Beyond the Trees Story
This is where reality kicks in. Gibbon Beyond the Trees was made to show the struggles of the Gibbons amidst the destruction of their habitat.
The game starts with fun with vibrant colors and exciting swinging action. However, as the chapters move forward, the grim reality of what is happening in our forests starts to take shape.
There are no voice-overs or scripts but the assets alone tell a story – a well-executed one.
What starts with luscious greens slowly transforms into a fiery orange forest as the flame engulfs the forest. It then moves forward to a dried-up and destroyed vegetation and then transitions to the palm oil factory – an industry that slowly endangers the gibbons and other animals.
Gibbons are defenseless animals and their habitat is being transformed into a palm oil farm.
The sad thing is, that those young gibbons are exploited in tourist attractions. Hunters exterminate whole families just to capture a young one.
The same thing happens in the game. The father “Yellow”, gets shot while escaping hunters, and “Lilac” is captured by poachers. This sequence is one of the most depressing parts.
Story-wise, the writers did a great job telling the reality while masquerading it as a game. The transition from a happy swinging family to a tale of survival starts slow, yet it stings when the brutal reality kicks in.
Visuals and Sound
The assets in-game are phenomenal. According to the developers, the Gibbon Beyond the Trees assets are hand-drawn and they are stunning.
The pastel finish works well with the color palette that they have chosen. It is not tiring to look at.
I remember one part where it transitions to a monotone scene while retaining the Pink and Lilac colors of the characters. That scene looked amazing – bothersome due to the story – but the graphics are amazing.
The game’s sound is another strong point. It matches the visuals very well and it is immersive.
Swing through the jungle and you would hear the birds singing and the jungle “talking”. Move towards civilization and the sounds are ever-present. Even the roofs can be heard creaking while swinging through it.
The music and sound make the game more terrifying, at least for me, because even if the game shows beautiful scenery, the sounds of machines and industrialization linger in my ears.
Gibbon: Beyond the Trees Final Thoughts
This is an amazing game that relies on great visuals, fluid movement, and mesmerizing sound to tell a story.
The game’s goal is to spread awareness and let the people know about the struggles of Gibbon and other endangered species. I think the developers did well in this regard.
For a simple game, I would say it is great. It is straight to the point with easy-to-understand controls.
Hopefully, the developers create similar games for other endangered animals too.
Should you get the game?
I suggest you do. It is a no-sweat game that supports a good cause, so why not?
However, it is better to have it on the Nintendo Switch than PC. I consider it a casual game that you can launch on the go. That does not mean you should not get it on Steam, buying it on PC is also fine.
This review is based on the PC version of Gibbon: Beyond the Trees. The key was provided by Future Friends Games.