ReviewsReview: The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna

Review: The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna

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My video review with footage captured using my Series X, enjoy!

Friendship is a fickle thing! Therefore, the smallest incident can break the strongest of bonds, and this can have devastating consequences. As we grow, our lives drift apart, but true friends can survive anything, or at least we’d like to think. When betrayal undermines everything you believe in, your world can appear dark and hollow. Sadly, this melancholy idea is the theme behind The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna.

Developed by Tonguc Bodur and Eastasiasoft Limited and published by the latter, this is an emotive walking simulator title. Set in a bleak wilderness filled with fantasy imagery, animals, and beautiful scenery, this will capture your imagination. It has a dark and haunting story that is told through a mixture of eerie moments and lingering narration. Like Bodur’s other recently released games; Lucid Cycle and Drizzlepath Deja Vu, this one is relaxing and dreamy with a creepy twist.

Such beauty.

The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna is an emotional rollercoaster.

Tonguc Bodur is an expert in walking simulators. Furthermore, his games take you on some surreal adventures, unlike any other. However, The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna is more interactive than previous titles. It has a distinct detective theme and by piecing together the clues; you unravel the many mysteries you encounter. The further you progress, the darker the plot becomes, and you soon realise that you are on a non-stop emotional rollercoaster! You’ll witness love, friendship, betrayal, and more as the deep-seated plot unravels.

You take on a soul-searching journey as a university graduate who returns to a village where he grew up. Upon his arrival, this once thriving place is deserted! There is no one around and instead, you are accompanied by visions of the past. You witness the story of another man who returns to his beloved and his childhood friends. As you explore the surrounding environment, you discover the dark truth that taints this beautiful location.

It’s time to ride an elephant.

Simple puzzles and a linear plot.

Whenever I take on a walking simulator title, I don’t expect to be tested. However, this one asks you to undertake some minor puzzling elements. These simple tests require a small amount of skill and some logical thinking. I enjoyed how Bodur incorporated these elements into the gameplay. However, it was disappointing, as they didn’t go far enough. I would have liked the problems to dominate proceedings, as this would have enhanced the detective element of the gameplay.

Though the lack of puzzles was disappointing, The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna’s story unfolds at a perfect pace. Thanks to its linear plot and seamless world, you get to experience the twisted narrative in a timely manner. You’ll witness cruel conversations, moments of betrayal, and the horrendous conclusion as your journey goes full circle. Some players may be frustrated at the lack of an open-world experience. I, however, adored how each area funnelled you to each piece of cinematic.

The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna is stunning.

Thanks to the beautiful surroundings, it was easy to forget the sinister nature of the story. But the picturesque world was juxtaposed by the cruel and heinous crimes of the protagonists. The varied landscapes and combination of weather fronts create both a warm and daunting atmosphere to explore. Like Bodur’s other works, this one takes you on a surreal adventure full of overbearing and everyday imagery. The world you look at is stunning from afar but is rough in places. Though this doesn’t impact the end product, a bit more polish would have gone a long way.

The audio wonderfully supports and compliments the unnerving action. Furthermore, its varied soundtrack is full of heartwarming tunes and creepy noises. Alongside the powerful music, you’ll experience moments of silence or the crisp sound of your footsteps. It was easy to stop and admire the vast rolling hillsides or the powerful waterfalls. Disappointingly, though, the acting wasn’t as strong as every other element. With a combination of wooden and hammy lines, some serious moments quickly became laughable. Fortunately, this didn’t undermine the seriousness of each scene and it shouldn’t detract from the overall experience.

Beauty can be found at every corner.

Why walk when you can auto-run?

I love a game that simplifies its controls, and this one has done just that. Moreover, if you want to be lazy, you don’t even need to walk. Hell, why walk when you can auto-run? This idea was fantastic in theory, but in reality, it wasn’t that useful. You’d end up running into walls, rocks, and it was more cumbersome than helpful. However, other than this minor issue, it was a joy to play. I found the controls to be responsive and consequently, I rarely struggled to complete any task.

Unlike its peers, this one has a layer of replay value. Once the story is completed, you unlock an ability to expand previously visited areas. This skill enables you to explore the world in greater detail and it was fascinating to touch on otherwise unseen locations. I loved how this was implemented, as it added to the short two-hour gameplay.

The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna: Wonderfully twisted!

The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna won’t be for everyone. Its slow gameplay will frustrate some, while others will miss the point altogether. However, if you appreciate a surreal and unusual story that unfolds gradually, then you’ll love it. Its cryptic narrative and hidden meanings keep you guessing from the start, and I adored this approach. For me, this is Bodur’s greatest title and I hope he continues in this vein. I loved it and I recommend you to buy it here! Follow the path, observe the madness, and strip back the layers of this dark mystery.

SUMMARY

The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna is a wonderfully dark walking simulator title. One of the, if not the best Bodur games available that is emotive and chilling. A beautiful world of love, friendship, and betrayal await you.

+ A stunning seamless world.
+ Atmospheric audio.
+ A dark and twisted story.
+ Simple controls.
+ Replay value.
- Not as polished as I hoped.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: Daniel@moviesgamesandtech.com
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Review: The Dead Tree of RanchiunaThe Dead Tree of Ranchiuna is a wonderfully dark walking simulator title. One of the, if not the best Bodur games available that is emotive and chilling. A beautiful world of love, friendship, and betrayal await you.<br/> <br/> + A stunning seamless world.<br/> + Atmospheric audio.<br/> + A dark and twisted story.<br/> + Simple controls.<br/> + Replay value.<br/> - Not as polished as I hoped.<br/> <br/> (Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.)<br/>