Overall Score | 7/10 – A Genre Fan Favorite: BY ERIK PILLAR
The Forest is a game not only about survival, but one about the horrors of the unknown and just how far one will go to stay alive.
Plot and Character:
This game is a little different than most the types I generally play, but it fits in well with its chosen genre – the survival genre. You play as an unnamed protagonist out on a trip with your young son, Timmy. Without divulging more details than necessary, in short order you find yourself stranded on a strange island, alone, and searching for your missing son.
Here’s the problem though, you’re not alone – not really. No, in fact, the island is teeming with crazed natives out for blood and who salivate for flesh – of the human variety – and if you play the game long enough you’ll run into some truly inspired mutant horrors.
That’s the main plot in a nut shelf. Most of the game’s story will be secondary to this, and will be more about the island itself and the other past survivors and visitors it has seen. You’ll find small hints and clues scattered all over the island, and they’re not typically marked in any real obvious way. A good example of the game’s story telling is in how during my play I happened upon a small yacht washed up near the beach. On closer inspection, I found the innards to be rather untouched by scavengers. I’ll not spoil what was inside, but it painted a welly formed picture of what the boat’s owner had gone through, while leaving enough mystery to keep an air of the unknown prevalent in your character’s thoughts.
Mood and Atmosphere:
The general tension the game sets is strong. You know something is wrong, and danger is near, but on starting out everything is quite calms still. You might spend your entire first day just wandering around, taking in the sights, searching your downed plane, and getting an initial camp set up. And then . . . it’s night time, and boy do things change fast.
Within a short period of time I found myself besieged by screaming and malformed natives. I held my own that first eve, and the bodies of the slain lay sprawled out all around my camp. Some burned from when they’d been lured into my fire, others missing limbs or teeth from the brawl.
While The Forest sees some epic moments of terror and neck bunching tension, the mood it sets is anything but consistent. I spent my next three days in peace, hacking away at trees, collecting rocks, and fishing in a nearby pond. I saw only a few natives in the distance, and otherwise only slightly ran afoul of a rather angry gator. For me, this time was a welcome calm to the anxiety of that first night – but it is possible some gamers might find themselves bored from time to time.
I will say though, the fully explorable underground and cavern system is where the true horror is at. The game instantly goes from run of the mill forest explorer, to something from the mind of a madman. There’s gore, terrifying monsters, a seemingly unending dark, and plenty of clues to be found – and, it’s all searchable only by the barest of light via torch or flickering lighter.
The meat and bones of this game is that of a standard open world survival game. We’ve seen it before, and the entire genre has become a bit of a fad at this point. You have hunger to manage, thirst, body temperature, stamina and health too.
You’ll do all of the above by utilizing a combination of scavenged goods, like candy bars and sodas and other valuable items when they can be found, and fishing / hunting / and exploring the world as you see fit.
The second part of the game is the crafting system. Most objects you find can be combined in some fashion – be it to make bone armor, torch, or even Molotov Cocktail. Beyond that though is the base building aspects of The Forest. Given enough time and resources, you can make some darn big bases here. You have a wide slew of custom buildings you can try for, and a goodly number of blueprints to go off as well.
Personally, I built myself a nice sized raft to ferry me to and from the boat I had found – which had a save point and bed inside of it – and used that to scout out a lot of the island perimeter in safety. It was only later that I opted to head inland more and got started on more than a simple hunting shelter.
The Forest is a great buy if you’re a fan of the open world survival horror genre. That market is a bit specific though, and general gamers might want to give this one a pass.
As far as games in the genre go though, this one sets a high bar. There are others out there that are just as good, but none that quite match this games horror feel.
Keep in mind though, this game is still in ALPHA. The developers are still building onto the game, and they appear to be doing so on a regular basis – but it’s not a fully finished product. So, don’t go in expecting zero glitches and full finished play.
The Forest is in development by Endnight Games – a self-proclaimed three-person indie studio.
Head on over to Steam to pick up The Forest for 33% off for the next 15 hours at the cost of $10.04, or $14.99 at regular price once the sale has ended.