Treeker: The Lost Glasses will take you from a gorgeous island into the stars themselves for some puzzle solving and first person platforming. The famed glasses will let you instantly see things between light and night to solve puzzles and see platforms. Its a game that goes a long way with its gorgeous art style, which makes it a game I want to be in and experience. I’ll gush more about the graphics, but underneath it all is some hardcore first person platforming on narrow platforms, moving platforms and even timed platforms. That’s what the game turns into after an initial bit of island.
You awaken off the coast of an island, on small beds of sand with only runes in a strange language to guide you. Touching the runes reveals everything in English (or Portuguese depending on your language selection), but there are cryptic clues on what to do and how to do it. After heading from the beds of sand to the main island itself, you’re greeted to the gorgeous vistas. Lush trees of all sorts of color, beautiful grass, rocks and pretty music fill the sky. Its a delight to visit, but there’s no real exploration. The island has brief dark caves, a scenic lighthouse. While its a beautiful place to be, its only the start of a metaphorical mountain you’ll need to climb.
There are no enemies or wildlife here, your only foe is gravity itself. Even a laughably short fall distance will kill you. Death will respawn you at the last frequent checkpoint. So Treeker is a forgiving game for the most part, but a daunting challenge in other areas.
After you solve a quick puzzle guided by the rune stones, you’ll find the lost glasses that let you switch between light and night so to speak. Its a good mechanic that reveals solutions, pathways and even hidden platforms. Putting the glasses on restricts you to a sort of tunnel vision that blurs and leaves trails. Coupled with the natural head bob of walking, I found wearing the glasses for too long to be quite nauseating and I haven’t gotten nauseated with a game since first person shooters of the Nintendo 64 era. Its easy to use the glasses, press the E key to put them on and E again to take them off.
Some of the time, you’re forced to keep them on as you platform high in the sky. Wearing the glasses won’t just make some platforms appear, it’ll make them real. Other times you can faintly see a platform without the glasses and traverse them even without wearing the glasses.
The controls are simple with keyboard and mouse support. You can move in any direction with arrow keys or WSAD, space bar to jump, left shift to run, F to interact and E for the glasses. Keys aren’t rebindable, which shouldn’t be an issue for most people. For me, I use a mouse with my left hand, so rebindable keys feels necessary. Trying to use my right hand on WSAD, shift and space to precision platform gets to be painful.
When you travel further into the game, you’ll discover three mighty gates that you’ll need to first open and then seal off. This is where the game and its challenge truly begin. To open each gate, you’ll need to find a pathway to an elevator into the stars themselves. Once you arrive high above the island, you can see everything below, but you’re there to platform. Using the glasses, you can see which platforms are real and which are not. Red is fake, blue is real and whites will move you at high speeds. These high speed platforms are tricky, they never stop, even when they reach their destination, they only shift direction and head back.
Its a beautiful change to be up in the stars amongst the dark sky overlooking the island. The only issue that I have is you’ll be up here for three different courses since there are three different gates and they all look, feel and play the same. Once you’re up here, there’s no going back. You can’t ride the elevator back down, you need to reach a giant lit up icon at the end of the course.
When you light up the giant icons, sun, moon or gear, you’ll get teleported back down in front of the tree gates and the corresponding gate will turn into a blue portal of strange language. You can tackle these gates or unlock them in any order that you want, but there’s no way to know what’s inside until you pass through the portal.
Each gate warps you to a completely different part of the island with different challenges. One is a platforming challenge high in the sky with teleporters that transport you here and there, but you’ll still need to platform. At some point you’ll have to wear the glasses while hopping on narrow blocks upward to a building. Falling through the narrow gaps and precisely platforming becomes an issue. These blocks are translucent and without any feet or shadow to your character, it can be difficult to gauge where you’re going to land. Next, there are crumbling platforms before you reach the seal at the end which will close the gate and transport you back to the three gates.
Another gate transports you to a pitch black night scape under a stream of falling rain. Flashes of lightning show you how blue, vacant and desolate the landscape is in this area. You’ll need to find five colored moons to unlock a giant gate. To find these moons or even see anything, you’ll need to wear the glasses and follow an arrow here and there that will guide you to each moon. At least there are street lights to show where you should start for each color. For each moon, there are pedestals to lock them into place and open the gate.
Oh but the darkness doesn’t end there, because you’ll need to wander through a pitch black maze to match four songs to their corresponding pedestals in the center atop of a giant platform in the center of it all. This huge platform lets you see out through the maze and get an idea based on glowing colors where these notes are to touch them and then return to hit the pedestals. Only the glasses will see the rich vivid colors in the darkness. Its beautiful and artistic, but I fear the darkness may scare away some people.
The third gate takes you up a mountain, then into it where you’ll have to face more platforms. This time the major gimmick is they’re timed. Sure there are other things like platforms that turn red or fake after you touch them once, but the frustrating, almost insurmountable issue is the timed platforms. Its more than that, there’s no auto save through three of these timed platform segments. This is where the game lets you know that its you or it. Only one of you will win. Your spirit will either get broken, or you’ll go on to victory.
One of the real problems with the game is there’s no story, no inkling of why you’re there or why you should continue through it. The beautiful island almost seems miles away when you’ve been stranded in the dark, cold rain. Forced to climb mountains, platform to your death again and again. All without reason other than its your only way off the island I guess. There’s no story, just a beautiful game that stops being pretty long before you’re finished. The visual art style sucks you in, but the platforming leaves you there to die. You can’t go back, you can’t warp out to where the game was fun to be around. You’re just stuck.
Treeker isn’t a perfect game, but the art style will push it only so far before the challenge becomes an issue. We all love beautiful, artistic and fresh games, but just know what you’re getting into. These platforming segments aren’t long, but they can feel hard, difficult and frustrating. They’re far more prevalent than puzzles. If you aren’t afraid of the effort or think you can handle jumping on narrow platforms over and over again, this game is for you. If you want just a casual island exploration in a gorgeous setting, you might end up feeling trapped not on an island, but above it.
With all that said, Treeker is a game that I’d love to see more from the developer. Despite its flaws, its still a great game. I’d also like to thank Fernando for giving me a copy of the game.