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Taking an early look at Among Trees

I’m not usually one for early access, but every so often I’ll get suckered into shelling out for some pre-alpha or alpha title because of instant gratification and innate curiosity. This past week, I noticed that a game called Among Trees was making the rounds, and the more I read about it, the more intrigued I got. So I sprang for it as a little gift to myself and jumped in to see what it had to offer.

Like The Long Dark and many other survival-style games, Among Trees throws the user into the middle of a wilderness with very little on hand and tasks them with gathering and crafting in an effort to increase the chances of making it another day. What Among Trees seemed to have to offer that was slightly different was a more chillaxed attitude and visuals ripped straight out of Firewatch.

I mean, you legally cannot talk about this game and not mention Firewatch, because both titles use dreamlike nature visuals that make every vista a lovely desktop wallpaper. It’s pretty much why I wanted to play it, because I really loved Firewatch’s look and feel and would be up for camping out in a woods that looked much like that.

And yeah, the visuals are the best part of the game so far. I’m not disappointed in how things look when I’m wandering around, and the HUD stays deliberately minimal to keep from distracting from being present in the forest. Actually, the interface is pretty well-done in that it’s simple, clear, and attractive. I didn’t have to struggle to figure out how to fix up the cabin or eat mushrooms.

While the world looks great, it’s still seemingly empty of meaty content. There’s no story here nor a diverse array of discoverable locations — just a lot of broken towers with goodies around them, some bears patrolling that can swipe your head off, and rabbits freaking me out by jumping out of the undergrowth and making me think I’m going to die.

All that’s really left is the gameplay loop of gathering and crafting. You can expand your cabin, cook food, whip up maps and bigger backpacks, and go fishing. The team’s roadmap has features such as pets and more things to encounter further down the road, but my gut says that Among Trees probably has a good year or two to go before it’s fully ready for release.

Still, I’m glad I have it, and I’ll be checking back in on this one from time to time as it develops.

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