Games rarely experiment with color. Trees are brown with leaves that change with the seasons. The sky is blue with clouds that are white or gray depending on the weather. The ground of a forest is either green from the grass or brown from the dirt. Forests are for Trees, however, changes that, and taught me that the industry still has a lot to learn through experimenting with color.
In Forests are for Trees you explore a small forest while hearing birds chirping and the occasional sound of a car in the distance. The birds and cars cannot be seen, and the trees’ branches bear no leaves. The lack of anything but trees creates a feeling of isolation, but the audio of hearing noises around you make you feel like you belong in the forest. At first glance the colors stood out, the roots met in the ground making a kaleidoscope-esque mix of confusion, and the branches met in the sky and fused their colors in an almost indescribable way. I did not want to look up or down because I was worried I would be lost in the colors. None of it made sense, but then I looked in the middle of my screen and saw something that blew my mind.
In the green tree in front of me, I could see more trees. A forest within a tree that looked very different than the one I was standing in. Its background was a calming hue of green, and was full of trees that did not have such confusing color combinations. Inside this one green tree was a forest of comfort. I get closer to the tree and see more trees within it that hold their own forests. At this point I was touching the smooth bark with my nose, and wanted to step closer, but that’s not how trees work. I walked through it anyway, and entered the forest within the tree. I looked back, and the tree I walked through had disappeared.
This new forest had the same sounds, but a different meaning to them. The driver of the car in the distance was no longer hurrying to get to their destination, and instead of taking a leisurely drive down the road. The birds chirped comforting tunes, putting the unseen animals of the forest into a tranquil state. With the change of colors, the imaginary story of the game changed. I looked around again and saw other forests within trees, some of them were repeating the same colors while some were different. Each time I walked through a different color tree, my emotions would change. Some colors made the environment dark, a sad time for the birds that chirped the same chirps as before, and a sad time as the driver drove their vehicle at the exact same speed as before, but to a destination of sadness, perhaps a hospital or a funeral.
Learning how these colors were affecting me as I traveled from tree to tree, I discovered that this experiment with my emotions was unlike anything I have felt in any form of media. Forests are for Trees offered me the freedom to create my own stories with the sounds I was hearing, but these stories were not completely my own, they were driven by the colors of my surroundings. This was a unique way of storytelling, even if it wasn’t intended.
Forests are for Trees offers an experience that is hard to explain, because its experience relies solely on how you react to the colors presented to you or your admiration for experimental games in the industry. The power these colors had on my emotions were strong. In some forests I would feel calm, and in others I felt uneasy. Each forest had their own story and tone, and I did not understand how the colors could affect my emotions so much, and the ways the colors blended together made the environment so surreal. Which makes sense, because I was merely a human wandering in a forest, and forests are for trees.
You can download Forests are for Trees here!