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The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna Review

The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna Review

The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna Review

Prepare to take a (very) long walk home in Tonguç Bodur’s newest title

Category: Review
Written by: Cindy Kyser on March 5, 2019
Genre: 3D Walking Simulator
Developed by: Tonguç Bodur
Published by: Tonguç Bodur
Release Date: February 14, 2019
Platform: Windows

I was recently perusing adventure titles on Steam and was delighted to find a new release by Tonguç Bodur. As an artist and a web designer, he is best known for walking simulators with intriguing characters, enchanting soundtracks, and breathtaking scenery. I’ve enjoyed his games in the past: Drizzlepath: Déjà vu, Nephise Ascension and Bottle Pilgrim.

I installed The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna and started my journey at the edge of a cliff. I began to follow a winding path and it was “game on!” Ranchiuna can be played from a 1st person perspective or toggled to a 3rd person view with my character visible. The scenery is magnificent and the music by Vereieiev Dymtro is inspiring. I’m feeling pretty good about this adventure. Then, the character begins to reflect on the nature of people and mentions lynching. Hmm… not sure where this is going but more will be revealed.

I learn that I am returning home after time away at the University. Upon reaching the village, I find it is abandoned with a skeleton hanging in the center of town. I proceed as if nothing is out of the ordinary. The only exception is that all conversations are with ghost-like forms of friends and family. The dialog winds down and I embark on what feels like the longest journey in gaming history. The trail is endless. Although there are some interesting sights along the way, there is very little to interact with. It is just walking, walking, and more walking. In two areas, walking on a path is replaced by walking across balance-beam bridges or long docks. In a couple of places, I enter a cave and my vision is restricted to the beam of my flashlight. My trek continues…

On occasion, my journey is interrupted by philosophical musings, replays of ghostly conversations, and gates that require random switch clicking to open. Sometimes, my environment changes from outdoors to indoors without warning. I magically step into the room of a house and must figure out how to exit. Once I escape, I am returned to the trail to continue trudging.

After over an hour of walking, I realize that I am going in circles. There must be a fork in the road but I’m not seeing it. I resort to a walkthrough and discover that there is a dead tree along the trail that is a ‘hot spot’ to provide a way out. Since I had not stopped to approach it, I had no idea that it was different from all the others in the forest. Sigh…

Exiting the game for help adds insult to injury. As in previous titles by Mr. Bodor, this game has no “Save on Exit.” Unless you want to walk an extra mile in your own shoes, you are wise to find a save-point before leaving. To be fair, there are quite a few save-points (represented by “you are here” maps) in Ranchiuna. However, when real life came calling during game time, I found myself focused on finding the next sign rather than enjoying the experience.

As I traveled, I tried wading into water and jumping off a cliff. This resulted in a white screen and a respawn close to the point of no return. Lesson learned: I cannot walk on water or fly. Later in the game, a suicidal jump is required to advance the storyline. I did not see this coming which added more walking as I tried to find a path that did not exist. Another peek at a walkthrough and another sigh…

Towards the end of the game, the snippets of ghostly conversation converge into a story of violence and tragedy. Once I had viewed “the incident,” I am left standing in an empty village. What next? Then I remember a nearby place that looked like a door but was not accessible. Someone must have had shouted “Open Sesame!” when I was not looking, because a new pathway was now open. I reach the end and the credits start rolling down the screen. As I exit, I am warned that my progress will not be saved. This gives me pause. Why would I care about my progress if the game is over? Surprise! The game continues after the credits. I find a lockpick and a locked door. I am now faced with the most frustrating element in Ranchiuna.

To pick a lock, you need both hands to manipulate two pieces of metal. Try to emulate this with a mouse or controller with no instructions. Back to the walkthrough for the 3rd time. I learn that moving the mouse right and left controls one piece of the pick while moving the mouse forward and back controls the other. Tricky business because, inevitably, the piece I am trying to keep stationary moves by accident. Note to self: don’t quit your day job because you have no talent for breaking and entering!

Finally, there is a satisfying “CLICK” and the door opens to reveal the final save-point. I still have my lock picks and can now circle back to previously visited locations and use them to open locked buildings. The last “you are here” map provides links to other save-points which reduce the walking required to revisit specific areas. I go to the first locked building and repeat the excruciating process of manipulating the lock picks with my mouse. I am rewarded with a letter that adds to the storyline.

I have now invested 5 hours of my life walking around Ranchiuna. I decide that the cost (in terms of travel time and lock picking) to learn a bit more about the story is too high. My journey is over.

To summarize, The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna certainly earns its place in the list of beautifully crafted walking simulators. However, it is my least favorite of the games by Tonguç Bodur that I’ve played. Bottle Pilgrim and Nephise: Ascension both had more complex stories and a balance between walking and other activities. Drizzlepath: Déjà vu was a long walk but I felt a kinship with the character as he reflected on this journey we call life.

In this game, I did not connect with the story. I struggled to understand whether (1) I was looking back from the grave and reliving my own past or (2) absorbing the ghostly aftermath of someone else’s experience. As it turned out, I was an observer of a dreadful event that had destroyed life, as I knew it, in my village. This event highlighted the terrible consequences of behavior driven by hatred and jealousy. It also demonstrated what happens when good people stay quiet in the face of evil. It is a story that is played out all too often in the headlines we read today. Although I abhor violence and do not believe there is any place for hate in the human heart, I still did not make an emotional connection with this game. It is a tragic story but was told without emotion and the musings were more general than personal.

For additional information, visit the game’s website

Grade: B

+ Visually stunning scenery with a great attention to detail
+ Wonderful sound track with original music and realistic environmental effects
+ Travel over logs and planks add complexity
+ Flashlight effects in dark areas add interest
Lots of walking and not much else
Story did not come together for me in a meaningful way


System Requirements
MINIMUM Windows:
Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
OS: Windows 7 or higher 64-bit
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz, AMD Athlon 64 X2 2GHz
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GT 750 Ti 2 GB or AMD RADEON HD 7850 2 GB
DirectX: Version 10
Storage: 14 GB available space
Sound Card: DirectX compatible Sound Card with latest drivers
Cindy Kyser

Cindy Kyser

Cindy’s love affair with gaming began when she opened a mailbox in front of a white house and took the first step in a long series of adventures. ‘Back in the day,’ Cindy was a regular contributor to JA and an active member of the online gaming community. She has attended several E3s and has had the pleasure of spending time in person with both Ray and Randy. Her all- time favorite adventures include the Tex Murphy series, the Gabriel Knight series, and The Longest Journey. She also enjoys RPGs and her list of ‘best ever’ includes Fallout, Asheron’s Call, and Planescape Torment. Â Frustrated with the cost of rising PC system requirements, Cindy decided to switch to console and tablet gaming. Although you can teach some old dogs new tricks, she discovered that console controller dexterity is a skill set that she is lacking. Her results with tablet gaming were not much better. With the exception of a few gems such as The Room and Forever Lost, there is a limit to how much one can play Candy Crush and Hidden Object Adventures. Having proved that pure escapism is worth the investment, she has a new gaming laptop and is back to her search for the perfect adventure. Â After spending most of her life in Los Angeles and Atlanta, Cindy escaped the stress of urban life and moved to rural Arkansas. To show that she has become a true Arkansan, she has taken up deer hunting, wears pink camo, and put a chicken coop in her backyard. On a stressful day, she can be heard yelling ‘Woo Pig Sooie’ when all else fails.

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