The Forest, by Endnight Games and available now on Steam Early Access, is a different take on the ‘survival horror’ genre, where both ‘survival’ and ‘horror’ are very much needed and on show in this game.
With the high amount of recent ‘survival horror’ games being released, Outlast, Slender, Amnesia to name a few, where it is basically a scare-fest trying to make you jump, having a game like this where you have to think your way through, with the occasional jumpy bits due to the atmosphere that is being set with the darkness, the fire and the movement from the natives, is a welcomed change of pace and tact
You play a man who has been travelling with his son on a plane going on a lovely, relaxing family holiday, when the plane is on the end of some heavy turbulence and the plane eventually goes down. If you were unsure about the games genre, whilst you are on the plane, the TV screen in front of you has a film poster of the latest blockbuster called ‘Necklace’ where the picture is of somebody’s throat has been slit and bleeding . . . Nice touch, something that could have easily been missed, I liked that.
The plane eventually hits the ground and you black out, with your son being the last thing you saw. As you awake you are greeted by a fine looking gentlemen, who generously helps your son out of the burning plane, only problem is that he ‘forgets’ about you, maybe it was a genuine mistake, who knows…
So, as you can probably guess, the idea is to find your son and kill the swine who took him…Well, I presume that. With the game being in such an early release phase (0.04 as I type) there is no real storyline been announced, and the developers are keeping hush hush about that currently, which I find is part of the charm of this game. Oh I never mentioned, this is a ‘survival horror’ game, have I mentioned the ‘Z’ word yet ? Nope I haven’t that’s because there are no zombies in this game!
You don’t have any real idea what you are doing or how to do things and you are having to learn on the fly, similar to games of the past when you didn’t have save states, a massive flashing light telling you what to do or where the hell to go. Your faithful companion is a trusty axe and a Ray Mears/Bear Grylls (you choose who is best) survival book bible type thing.
This book is your saviour, treasure all information and knowledge you find within it, oh and it also acts as your tutorial and tells you how to build shelters, fires, cook etc. You can even place these things down where you want them before you have the right equipment to build them on the screen, saves going back and forward into the inventory screen, again a nice touch. Within your inventory is a crafting mat, as you hover over the items in your inventory it tells you if you can combine them, but doesn’t tell you what with, similar to Dead Rising, again a really good thing to have.
It was night, so I thought I’d sleep in my special shelter and wake up in the day…nope, I was rudely interrupted by noises behind my shelter by a curious native. I ventured out with my trusty friend to defend myself and armed my torch ready as the fire was dying, I blinded him and he ran off. Success!…or so I thought.
The AI is very, very good if it needs to run away and live to fight another day it will or in this case he decided to go and get some friends to say hello to me. I managed to get a couple of them, but as is life the female native startled me with her choice of clothing, or lack of, and she got me…they were on full show and surprised me. I was then surprisingly awakened in a cave full of bodies hanging from the ceiling, I moved literally five feet, made a noise and that was that…two days I survived, not bad for a first go!
For an alpha, it has some brilliant potential for storylines and modes it could incorporate. You could have the main storyline of you trying to find your son, it could have a survival mode where you see how long you can actually survive in the forest…see what I did there!
Difficulty settings, a perma-death version like it is now? If you die, reload the beginning of the last day or last save made? Multiplayer is an interesting concept, how would it work, 4 man lobbies, 16 man lobbies, teams, natives versus survivors? Would it even work? Maybe a lobby system where once you are dead, you are dead or wait till the next day dependent on difficulty. Would it work on the next generation consoles? Oculus Rift support? Now that would be a good game to try it on, I just wish I had a Oculus Rift. These are questions EndNight Games will obviously be asking themselves, I imagine forums will be asking more of these type of questions of the developers as well.
One thing I forgot to mention, on the main screen is a countdown to when the next patch/update is due for release, a brilliant concept. This gives the player an understanding that the game is being constantly being worked on and isn’t standing still in its development. I can only see this getting better and better and I for one will be an interested participant in the next phase of The Forest!