Beautiful, dark and frightening
Summary : The Forest might only be in alpha on Steam Early Access, but it is shaping up to be an extremely robust and intriguing survival horror experience.
Survival horror games are the toast of the indie game development scene, with new interpretations on the genre emerging with each passing week. One particular game, though, has really caught my eye: The Forest developed by Endnight Games. It’s foreboding trailer sets a dark, mysterious atmosphere for your character who is left to their primal instincts to survive not only the wilderness, but also an unavoidable supernatural element that haunts the forest. I was lucky enough to play The Forest Alpha on PC which is currently in Early Access on Steam, and the following words are my thoughts on the game after a brief time playing it.
The StoryThe premise of The Forest is a simple one: you are travelling aboard a plane when it suffers a catastrophic accident in the air and crash lands in a forest. As you wake from unconsciousness, you see a mysterious tribal figure take what can only be your own child before unconsciousness takes you again. When you wake again, you will find yourself the lone survivor of the crash and it is from this point you will need to start fending for yourself, building shelter, scrounging for food, and defending yourself too. It’s definitely a familiar scenario, by virtue of its genre, but it’s different enough to have its own intriguing elements (read: doesn’t have zombies in it). The tribal figure that you see earlier is a member of what is described as “a society of cannabalistic mutants”. Nothing to be scared of then, I suppose. In my short time playing the game, I did have encounters with these individuals at several points, all of which ended similarly to this:
The GameplayI have found the gameplay in The Forest to be well balanced and intuitive, though there are a few keys that may require another look at the manual. The start to the game can be a bit daunting, especially given the traumatic opening sequence, however there is a very good survival guide that will serve as a tutorial and drives your survival story for a little while. Having only played for a short time, I haven’t had a chance yet to see what extent the survival guide can help in the later stages of the game, but it’s a readily accessible resource that is well suited to the game. You’ll perform actions like cutting trees and shrubs down, collect and scrounge for resources and food and build structures that will give you shelter, and eventually things that will serve as defenses. It’s extremely easy to gather resources and place them, so it’s relatively easy to set up a temporary base of operations. A particular standout in The Forest is that the game appears to be constantly in flux; is several playthroughs, things have played out very differently. In my most recent playthrough, the mutants appeared in quite a large group soon after I finished building my humble abode and knocked me unconscious. It’s this unpredictability that makes The Forest all the more intriguing as you never know how it will end or what will happen the next time you play.
The PresentationThe Forest‘s greatest asset, and the thing that initially drew me in, is its presentation and graphics. While scrounging in the wilderness, I often spent a few moments examining my surroundings to appreciate the amount of work that has gone into make The Forest look the way it does now. I’ve now seen several iterations of The Forest Alpha now and the evolution of the plants and lighting are subtle, but the effect of which are astounding; what previous looked good now looks even more fantastic and really adds to the whole experience of being stranded in the middle of a living, breathing ecosystem.
The graphics aren’t perfect if you stare at everything up close, but if you go about your business chopping down trees and getting chopped down, it all looks like a picture perfect forest environment. Things like glistening mutants and walking around in pitch black caves with only a lighter are helped by the great graphics which only make a tense situation even more suspenseful.
Final ThoughtsThe Forest might only be in alpha on Steam Early Access, but it is shaping up to be an extremely robust and intriguing survival horror experience. There’s not quite anything like it out there right now, combining survival aspects with unpredictable enemies who have secrets that you would rather not know about. While I’ve only played for a short while, I intend to see this game through and try and survive longer than just one day. Right after I crawl out from under my blanket…
If you want to check out The Forest, it’s available on Steam Early Access now for $14.99 USD – visit the Steam store page here.