The Forest Review – Harrowing, Blood-Caked Fun

 

The Forest
Endnight Games Ltd.

Our seemingly pleasant commercial airlines flight had quickly gone south—the plane’s fuselage creaked and groaned as it began to break apart into pieces. Then the screen went black.

“Wait until you see this, dude,” my gaming buddy cheerily remarked.

Suddenly, I was greeted with a muddled scene of my character dizzily waking up in the partially destroyed airplane. A cutscene played which apparently showed my son being torn out of my hands by a blood-covered humanoid. Shortly after that, I gained control of my nameless digital avatar.

“We have to gather as much as we can from the crash site—and fast! Those things will be back and they’ll get us,” my friend gustily urged.

We scavenged what we could, and then dashed off towards a nearby coastline. Checking out a distant tree line, we agreed that it would probably be in our best interest—survival-wise—to build a tree base. No sooner had we made that decision that we spotted a few shapes moving down the coast, bobbing and weaving betwixt old sea-logged tree stumps. As they got closer we noticed that they were indeed some of the cannibalistic creatures my friend had warned me about. Since we only had a couple of fire axes for weapons we decided to conserve our energy (and health) and ran off for the woods.

The following couple of days involved my friend and I collecting rocks, logs, and branches, with which we constructed a pretty decent starter base up in the trees. We only spotted a couple of cannibal patrols off in the distance, but for the most part remained unmolested.

The third night was different. In a scene reminiscent of any great horror film, we heard various screeches and growls as the sun set. Soon, we were completely surrounded by the dangerous denizens of the island we’d crashed upon. Since we’d crafted a couple of bows, we tossed a few flares to the ground around our tree base. We spied a large gaggle of around 7 or 8 naked, blood-smeared cannibals smashing at the wooden fence we had erected around the tree stump upon which our tree base lay.

We quickly commenced to firing arrows at our agitated adversaries, felling a couple of them straight away. Suddenly, my friend cried out. One of our assailants had climbed a nearby tree and leapt upon him. That in turn caused him to freak out and fall from his perch onto the ground below—right outside of our fence. This wasn’t going to end well…

Indie game developer, Endnight Games Ltd.’s crafting survival game, The Forest, is the kind of game where things like this can go wrong at any turn. And they usually do. First off, The Forest may either be played solo or in co-op with friends. The game can be so harrowing at times, that I’d recommend playing it with others, since it’s just a lot more fun to share your crazy experiences with it. Having backup is also a good thing, because some of the enemies in the game will horde up and overwhelm you if you’re not well-fortified.

There are two primary aspects to The Forest. The first one takes place during the daytime, where players will want to explore, gather resources, build up their base, and craft equipment and weapons. The second takes place during the nocturnal hours, where similar to zombie survival game 7 Days to Die—your monstrous foes will rampage throughout the island, looking for anything to kill, main, or gobble up. These dual elements really serve to gradually ratchet up the game’s tension. There were many times when my friend and I would be exploring or gathering resources, only to suddenly notice that the sun was getting low on the horizon. We’d then alert one another and quickly scramble back to our base as fast as our feet could carry us, and strange sounds would start to emit from off in the distance.

Luckily, there is a wide array of weapons and traps that you can craft with which you can hold the unwashed masses at bay. At least temporarily (the hordes get stronger and stronger with each passing night). There are also a veritable plethora of other items to craft, such as different types of armor, various base structures, furnishings, and so forth and so on.

Food and water are also key resources that you’ll have to keep an eye on. However, The Forest’s crafting and base-building systems are so robust that you can construct bases that are virtually self-sustaining. For instance, in the beginning of our first game we had to sally forth to the coasts in order to kill tortoises for food or spear fish in a nearby pond for food. But we soon discovered that we could craft rabbit cages and breed rabbits. We could even use the tortoise shells as water collectors.

Although there are many different biomes present on the island, including lush forests, rugged mountains, and snowy tundra’s, there are also vast cave networks underfoot. These caves definitely are not of the cutesy little National Geographic variety. They are the blood-drenched, gore-sprayed environs in which the cannibals dwell. Once sufficiently equipped and fortified, you can explore the caves and attempt to unravel the mysteries of the main story present within the game. Or, you simply to try to find some of the better loot.

The Forest’s graphics are certainly impressive. I noticed individual leaves falling from trees which swayed in the wind overhead. Highly detailed wildlife abounded everywhere I looked, and a random bird would even land on my hand from time to time and chirp gleefully. The full day and night cycles were punctuated by beautiful random weather effects, such as dense fog, thunderous storms, and wispy morning mists. The game’s visuals are more detailed that Rust’s, in fact I’d say the only thing that is comparable to this level of detail would be Miscreated (another visually arresting survival game).

One of the things that I really love about The Forest is that you can play the main story (i.e. trying to find out what happened to your kidnapped son), or you can simply play it as an open-world survival experience. I’ve found that the latter is both much more fun and also more rewarding, as it allows you to really explore more of what the game has to offer. But completionists may be attracted to both aspects.

Those who hunger for more of a PVP experience also shouldn’t be let down, as the game’s AI is some of the best I’ve seen in a video game. For example, some enemies will approach you cautiously, but won’t engage. Instead, they’ll scout you out and then scamper away. Shortly thereafter, they may return with a large compliment of cannibalistic buddies who commence to stare at your haunches as if they’re the next item on their grisly menu. Other times, we noticed that some of the leader-type enemies would whoop and shriek into the air upon spotting us. Moments later, a similar contingent of hungry human-eaters would arrive ready for action.

Although The Forest has been in development for over three years, by all accounts it really seems to be coming into its own. It’s highly immersive, beautifully rendered, and features some of the best crafting and building systems around. Personally, I can’t wait to get back into the game to check on our little tree base.

SCORE: 89%

The Forest features gorgeous graphics that are more than good enough to wow your friends with. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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