I’m not a fan of camping. My list of strengths doesn’t include the ability to hunt, fish or other essential survival techniques. So, if I were to take on the role of “The Forest” protagonist Eric LeBlanc, I would last a maximum of 24 hours. Pair that with all the other forces of nature that the island throws at you, then well….maybe I would last about 15 minutes? To that regard, Endnight Games have done a solid job of making this gamer perhaps a shy bit better at survival? Probably not though if we’re being honest.
The Forest is a game that has been on the radar for fans of horror survival games for a long time. It spent the last three years in early access over on the PC via Steam, finally releasing as a finished product in April 2018 and is now available for PlayStation 4. As the team is always looking to innovate and adapt, they have started creating a VR mode within The Forest over on the PC version. Currently, the team is working to make it available for Oculus Rift but my hopes are that the team don’t forget about their PlayStation audience and that we will eventually see the game on PlayStation VR.
For being a game that is thrown into the wildly popular Survival Horror genre, The Forest does something that I have not seen in a while, you’re playing a game with virtually no story! Upon starting The Forest You find yourself on an aeroplane, probably watching Men in Black 2 for the 14th time, while your son Timmy sits by colouring in his next masterpiece. Suddenly, the plane is hit by turbulence and then proceeds to crash into the forest below. You wake up from the aftermath of the carnage long enough to see Timmy being dragged away by someone that surely is not Fred Rogers! Eric passes out again…
…upon awakening, you are released into the world of The Forest with nothing but an axe, some cans of soda, and the desire to find Timmy and unravel the mysteries of where you are. You quickly discover that the peninsula you are on is full of life with all of the dense woodland, rivers, and mountains. But don’t worry true believers, you are not alone!
Ladies and Gentlemen, that is how far the game will take you because after you walk off that plane, you are free to do whatever you want. The island is yours to explore! Don’t get too comfortable though because as the sun sets on your first day, you will discover the dangers of the island are much more horrifying than Bambi and Thumper.
Unless you have spent the time to build yourself a log cabin to safely hide in, you WILL be killed by the cannibal mutants and other monstrosities of the island. There are creatures with multiple limbs that are the stuff of nightmares!
Did I mention they WILL kill you? Yeah, they can – and will – easily overtake you very quickly.
The bread and butter of what makes The Forest feel special lies within the crafting. Though this is nothing new to be brought to the Survival Horror genre, they go about it in a way that feels pretty good. You have a Survival Guide that will tell you all the necessary ingredients needed to build a variety of different items for your home camp. It helps to build a fortress as soon as possible so that the mutants of the island cannot reach you. You can also set up rain catchers as well as set up traps to catch wildlife. You are able to craft different weapons as well to help with the combat.
An issue I have, and probably the biggest complaint I have with the game, is that gathering the materials needed to craft is very time-consuming. Some things can be done to help speed things along, but unfortunately, it can still be slow. For example, using your axe to cut down a tree will generally take about 30 seconds and give you 3-4 logs. When you realize that building something like a log house takes 80+ logs, you will be chopping for a long time! Meanwhile, you have to manage your Hunger and Thirst meters that do go down semi quickly.
If you, the player, have friends that also purchase The Forest, you can go online and do up to 4 player multiplayer. I found this to be a very enjoyable experience. Of course, you can also easily jump into any strangers game if they have an open position as well. You have to work together to take down the local threats and build your base. We were able to quickly establish ourselves and have a self-sustaining town within a couple of hours.
The game is certainly not for everyone. Some players will be turned off by the non-linear gameplay. As I mentioned, the game does not hold your hand in any way. The only real mission you have is to find Timmy. As you explore the island, you will uncover secrets that were not meant for your eyes. Ultimately, how much fun a player will have with the game will come down to the player’s imagination and how much time they have to build up the ultimate home base.
The Forest was an experience that took me some getting used to because I’m not used to non-linear games. However, once you realise that you can do whatever you want, you eventually grow to enjoy it. It did take me a few hours to appreciate what the game has to offer, but once I figured out what I was doing, I understood the hype behind the game a little bit more. Trophy hunters beware, this game will be a VERY difficult game to achieve the coveted Plat!