the artistry and psychology of gaming


Branch (Faxanadu)

Branch (Faxanadu)

One of the most surprisingly diverse worlds I’ve ever visited is the World Tree.  This tree is said to be the source of life for the Kingdom of Eolis.  While one might expect this gigantic tree to be boring or visually dull, it is quite the opposite; it doesn’t look much like any tree that you or I have ever seen.  There are three basic traversable sections: the trunk, the inside, and the branches.  The trunk is like a mountainside, and can be scaled rather easily, and the inside is a dark, misty area, but today, I’d like to talk about the branches.

The world within the branches is one of the coziest places I’ve ever been.  There’s something special about being so high above the ground, and yet, so safely nestled inside, looking down at the world below.  That’s not to say that there are not dangers within the World Tree’s branches, but the constant threat of falling is not among them.  I am evidently not the only one who feels this way, either, since there are two towns in this area: Conflate and Daybreak.  My journey begins as I left the tree’s inside.

When I came through the door of that red castle, I was in a brown and orange area.  There were gnarled columns everywhere, and most of the ground was a drippy red rock of some sort.  There were orange stalactites above, and there were veins running through the walls of sorts.  I moved forward, marveling that the branch did not move even slightly as I did so, and eventually came to a blue ladder.  Climbing up, I entered a lovely alcove, and from there, I climbed up another ladder.  There were two directions that I could take from here, and I chose the one to my left.

There was a short corridor, which narrowed almost enough for me to have to duck down to continue on.  There was a door at the end with a mark of King, and so I used the appropriate key to enter.  In here, everything went from orange to an off-white, and the red and brown were replaced by shades of green.  Some of the columns here – the green ones – looked very differently; almost leafy, I’d say.  Making my way through this vertical forest, I came to a large open space, which served as a cozy room from which I could look below yet again.  I sat down to enjoy the scenery here for quite some time before heading back to the previous intersection, going in the other direction this time.

I passed a ladder leading upwards, and continued down a lovely corridor until I reached Conflate.  I stocked up here, headed back, and climbed the ladder this time.  At the top, there was another door with the mark of King; I had one last key, and so I used it to enter.  I was in another green and off-white area, this one just as lovely.  I came to an open area with a bridge, which was broken in the middle.  Steeling myself, I leapt to the other section, but an unexpected gust blew me off course.  I screamed for dear life as I fell, facing upwards, and expecting the impact to be fatal.  It happend more suddenly than I had anticipated, and though I was in excrucuating pain, having landed back first upon hard rock, I was pleasantly surprised that I’d survived.  I crawled to an opening and slipped back inside of the branch, then double backed to its end.  Now shielded from the wind in a very pretty dead end, I took another rest, this time so that I could once again stand and walk properly.

When I recovered, I headed back in the other direction, hoping for a way out.  I was fortunate to discover a door, which I entered.  I found myself in another red, orange, and brown area down in a gully.  I climbed a ladder and came to a nearby vertical intersection.  I first chose to descend into a pit, and upon its exploration, I found a wide curtain of columns.  I climbed up this tiered curtain and up a ladder into a tiny hatch that I loved so much, I’d considered making myself a new home there.  Deciding that there were far more adventures to be had, I went back down and moved on, finding another large open area.  Somehow, the colors made this even cozier than the green and off-white one, so yet again, I took my time here.  Once I was satisfied, I went back to the vertical intersection and ascended this time.

There was something very special about this stretch of the journey.  I cannot quite explain why, but this more open area made my heart soar.  It brought back vague memories of the living room in the house where I grew up, but neither I am certain as to why, nor am I able to put those memories into context.  Regardless, I soon found a downward ladder, and descending it, I found an area right above the tiny hatch.  I smiled, and continued my journey to an area with many ladders, which were connected at their sides.  I made my way across them and came to a blue and orange wall of the drippy rock.  I could not figure out why it was this color, nor could I do anything with it, so I descended a nearby ladder, taking me to the town of Daybreak.

I came out the other side of Daybreak into the final stretch.  The columns were very thick above me, but their bases all stopped in the air.  Soon, though, I came to an area where the columns were more like they’d been before: spaced out and touching the ground.  I came to a dead end, but so did the veins; I looked to see open sky where they had been.  There was a ladder down to a very tiny alcove with a door.  I saw no traditional keyhole on this door, so I was unable to enter at the time; it was clear that I’d have needed something else.  I did eventually get inside, but that is a story for another time.

One of my favorite types of places to go is nestled within a large plant high in the sky.  I lament that I cannot adequately describe what it is like, because there is truly nothing else like it.  Do you remember the feeling of climbing high into a tree in your youth?  It is a similar experience – about as close as one can ordinarily get – and yet wholly unique.  The climbing, the twists and turns, the cozy alcoves, the incredible view; this wonderful combination is something that I hope every adventurer can experience at some point in his or her lifetime.

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