The Forest (Early Access) Review – The Very Best of Modern Survival Horror Gaming

The Forest
Endnight Games

My buddy and I had just survived the crash landing of a commercial airliner, soon after which, we witnessed some sort of blood drenched humanoid carry off a little boy. We were still recovering from the impact to do much of anything to stop it. When we finally came to our senses, we quickly gathered whatever supplies we could scavenge from the wreckage and darted off into the forest. There was no telling how many of those mutated creatures could be lurking out there in the woods.

Indeed, as we bolted through the wilderness, we could feel many sets of eyes watching us. We concocted a plan to gather as much wood and stone as we could in order to erect a base, or at least some makeshift wooden walls around a patch of land that we could temporarily call home.

Then we saw them. A small gaggle of about four or five mutants, scurrying around off in the distance.  They were heading for us. Since we were unarmed we ran off in the opposite direction, but they had spotted us and gave chase. They trailed us all the way down to a long, sandy stretch of coastline. We spotted a boat that seemed to be anchored in a shallow bay and after diving into the cold sea water, we began swimming directly for it.

Luckily, the mutants didn’t seem too keen about swimming, and merely hopped up and down and ran about on the beach, seemingly angry that they couldn’t follow us. And maybe equally mad that they had just missed out on two easy afternoon meals. We quickly searched the medium-sized boat to make sure there weren’t any unwanted surprises waiting for us in its cabin rooms. There weren’t. But there were a few clues as to the previous occupants’ fate, as well as a skeleton with a skipper’s hat on, laying on a bed in the sleeping quarters. My friend suggested that we spend the night on the boat and he found no arguments to the contrary from me.

In the morning, we scanned the coastline for any trace of the foul freaks which had chased us the previous day. Seeing that the coast seemed clear, we cautiously swam back to shore and continued with our plan to gather up enough materials to build our first starter-base. When we had gathered enough supplies, we quickly erected some sturdy wooden walls and also built some log and stone holders. Then we built a meat hanger, water catcher, and a few other basic survival necessities. By that time, another night had fallen upon us.

We were just thinking about turning in for the night when we suddenly heard multiple grunts and groans from just beyond the safety of our wooden walls. Moments later, those disquieting noises were accompanied by some loud thrashings of fists upon said walls. We braced ourselves for an imminent breakthrough, holding our crafted spears at the ready while standing back-to-back. But the sly devils had sneakily climbed the surrounding trees as well. We watched in horror as the men-beasts launched themselves from neighboring tree branches over our walls and directly upon us.

My friend and I have recently re-started a game of indie game developer, Endnight Games’ underground survival horror hit, The Forest. Why? Well, The Forest is unique in that while you can play the game in order to accomplish its main mission, which is to locate the son of one of the survivors, you don’t have to. You can also play it as a pure sandbox survival experience. Every other survival game I’ve played offers either one or the other, but never both of those options. So, even though we had “completed” the main story, the game was so much fun when it came to the day-to-day struggles of surviving against the man-mutants that we decided to give it another go.

The Forest offers the usual trappings of the survival game genre: You first must gather supplies, then scout around for a good place to build your first base. From there, you attempt to construct your base while warding off any aggressors. However, unlike other survival fare, in The Forest, the ways in which you go about doing all of these things is very much non-grindy.

In other survival games such as Rust, Miscreated, or 7 Days to Die, you must continuously gather more and more resources in order to build bigger and badder bases. In The Forest, once you have a decent base built, you’re free to go off and explore. Exploration is one of the main components that sets this game apart from most others. You can scout out varied biomes, such as acres of dense forests, desolate plains, rolling hills, and even vast underground cave systems.

The cave networks themselves are one of the main attractions of the game, as they can be quite unsettling to explore. Once minute you could be creeping along some narrow stretch of cave passage with your torch out in front of you, lighting up the spooky environs in order to navigate further into their depths. The next, you could be set upon some subterranean horror which has been waiting for prey just like you to fall into its grasps. The cave exploration segments are so convincingly creepy that they are just as spooky as any traditional survival horror game such as Outlast or the latest Resident Evil title, Biohazard.

The Forest’s visuals are particularly stunning, and my friend and I frequently found ourselves gawking at the natural scenery around us. The creature models were also very well done, and moved with such fluidity that they almost seemed real. The sound department also nailed it. I can’t tell you how many times that we became unnerved simply by the guttural grunts and squawks the mutants made, as they stalked us through the game’s hauntingly beautiful environs.

I’d consider The Forest not only one of the best survival horror titles out there, but one of the best of the modern crop of survival games, period. Its mix of arresting visuals, brilliant sound design, excellent creature design and AI, and immersive gameplay make it a no-brainer for any fans of the survival game genre. And it’s still only in Alpha. We can’t wait to see what its developers have in store for us later on down the line.

SCORE: 88%

The Forest features great graphics that make its survival horror gameplay come alive. 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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