Gibbon: Beyond the Trees – PS5 Review

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Games often take us to fantastical worlds and allow us to take on roles that we could only dream of. Gibbon: Beyond the Trees takes players back down to earth with a sobering tale of the destructive force of human civilisation.

Gibbon – Beyond Games

A 2D hand drawn adventure set in Southeast Asia, the game was crafted with care by the multi-time BAFTA nominated Austrian studio Broken Rules. Originally released on Apple Arcade in Feb 2022, it arrived on Nintendo Switch, Steam and later that year.

It now comes to PS5 & PS4 on June 1st 2023. Played here on PS5 the install size comes in at 1.04GB of your precious SSD storage.


Just like with Broken Rules previous game Old Man’s Journey, the narrative in Gibbon: Beyond the Trees is told through its imagery. Players take on the role of Pink an adult Gibbon, who along with her family embark on a perilous journey of survival across unknown lands.

an array of colourful animals including gibbons traverse trough a lush jungle high up in the treetops
satisfying swing

Central to the gameplay is the traversal system. By holding R2 you propel forward using the gibbons arms. Key to mastering the technique is maintaining momentum and building speed. Releasing your hold right at the optimum point achieves this. It is a tonne of fun just like the swinging in Spiderman and Miles Morales.

Add the ability to slide using L2 and perform boost-inducing backflips (should you land them) and your set for some really satisfying manoeuvres. These traversal skills are essential in navigating the many hazards like forest fires, rivers, waterfalls, predators and poachers.

Graphics & Audio

The soundscapes the team have created here are really excellent. Paired with vibrant, colourful and atmospheric visuals, the presentation comes together with some wonderful animations to produce a feast for the senses.

Branches react to the weight of your traversal, leaves rustle as you swing, and animals call. Fires crackle and the bustle of human activity is in stark contrast to the wild jungle treetops you call home.

Some gibbons take refuge in tree branches as rain pours down in a night time storm
gorgeous atmospheric visuals

To further accentuate the mood throughout the adventure, a dynamic score delivers both tension and levity. After my initial playthrough of the story I switched to using a headset and I wish that I had played like this from the get-go. The use of a headset really adds to this adventure and it’s my recommended way to experience the story.

The game ran flawlessly smooth at 60fps throughout my experience.


Once you have completed the main story (takes about an hour), the “Liberation” and “Daily Run” modes are unlocked. Liberation places players in procedurally generated levels tasked with freeing animals from cages. These can be found dotted around the level as you traverse.

There are 100 of these to be set free – 10 sets of 10 animals. The design here is one of my only gripes with the game for a couple of reasons. First, there are way too many. It would be a much tighter experience if the sets were reduced to 4 or 5 of each animal. Secondly, the positioning of these is often set up with multiple cages in one location at different heights rendering it impossible to collect them all. Lastly, as you don’t know the exact location of the cages until really close to them your current trajectory leaves you without ample time to adjust your path.

in game menu showing completion rate, date last saved and total play time. It also shows icons of different animals depicting the amount completed in the liberation mode
the grind is real!

In its current format, this mode outstays its welcome as it becomes a really grating grind. Yes, the reward for completing a set is nice, invoking some Sonic the Hedgehog nostalgia but it definitely needs a tweak to stop the fun being sucked out of it.

Encyclopedia entries, of which there are 18, share some real-world facts and give context to the issues the story is shining a light on.

an encyclopedia showing 18 collected entries on the right hand page. The left hand page reads "Find and collect entries about gibbons and their life in Southeast Asia while playing the game. We worked with a team of local residents and experts to ensure that all subject matter is represented respectfully and accurately."
facts of the matter

The Daily Run mode is a leaderboard challenge where all players tackle the same level aiming to top the rankings. The trophy list comprises 12 bronze, 8 silver, 7 gold and a platinum.

Final Thoughts

My 2yr old son’s favourite book is Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson. Playing the story of Gibbon: Beyond the Trees has made the opening line of that book so much more impactful now as we read it before bed.

I’m left with a profound sense that these are important topics that I need to educate my kids about. Knowledge is power – the power to make change.

I thank the team at Broken Rules for delivering a well-crafted title with such attention to detail and applaud them for tackling topics that are not often highlighted in games. I look forward to seeing what they are working on next.

This one takes the Thumb Culture Gold Award into the treetops.

Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.

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