As described by the game’s creators, Endnight, The Forest is a “terrifying first-person survival horror simulator.” The Forest was created during the heyday of open-world survival games, which lasted for four long years of development. Survival games are finally reaching 1.0 now that everyone is playing battle royales.
These days, open-world survival games like The Forest and Subnautica are making a name for themselves by successfully incorporating a compelling storyline into the challenge of the surviving day today. Like Subnautica, The Forest embraces its horror roots to great effect.
At the time, I was blown away by the visuals and the premise of The Forest, which I still remember vividly. In a commercial jet, you and your son crash land in the middle of a forest. As a survivor, you find yourself awoken by a strange, primitive-looking person who has taken away your son.
In addition to surviving, I needed to find answers and locate my son. It’s also possible that the creepy tribal guy will show up again. This group of cannibal mutants was straight out of 2005’s The Descent when I found myself chained and dangling in their cave.
I managed to free myself from the cave and fought my way out, slaughtering cannibal creatures mercilessly with my axe until I emerged, covered in blood, knowing I’d found something special. Four years later, I’m pleased with the results of my decision to put it on hold until its “official release.
The Forest has a beginning and an end, like the recently released survival game Subnautica, with narrative bread crumbs that help to progress the story. Unfortunately, the pace of The Forest is slower than that of Subnautica, and the game’s breadcrumbs are more difficult to locate.
Because there are no directional arrows on your HUD in The Forest to guide you to the next significant plot point, you may have to retrace your steps a few times. For the most part, the answers you find in The Forest are compelling and worthwhile, even if you resort to a guide for the sake of time and sanity—so don’t feel bad about it.
Open world survival is at the heart of The Forest. Things like hunger and thirst, as well as the need to build a shelter to protect yourself and your progress, must be taken into consideration. Making a safe place to rest is a luxury and a source of entertainment in survival games. Even though building in The Forest can be enjoyable, most of the time I built for practical reasons rather than for pleasure.
Hunting parties, monstrosities, and other grotesque creatures prowl the daytime as well as the night. The best defence is a sturdy wall, but you have a wide range of options at your disposal because you’ll be attacked both day and night. Large and small shelters can be constructed, as can custom buildings and treehouses fit for a Wookiee (which also serve as a place to save your game). While you’re stuck on the peninsula, you can also construct rafts and a houseboat to help you get around.
Surviving in The Forest is a lot like playing a video game, with super-fast buildings and an enormous inventory. Gathering the materials needed to build a structure can take a long time, even though a structure can be built in a matter of minutes.
In The Forest, the building can be both fun and tedious. Cutting down trees with the majority of the game’s axes can be a laborious process. You may also discover that some handcrafted items are more powerful than their commercially manufactured counterparts. A skull on a stick doesn’t make sense to me, but skulls on sticks are pretty fuckin’ metal, so I’ll let it slide.
It’s easy to go hunting. Hunting deer and stomping on their heads is a common tactic. Some animals (and creatures) can be skinned for their hides, which can be used to make crafting materials or worn as armour. Constructing tools and other items takes some practice and aren’t always the most straightforward process. It took some time to get used to the system, but once I did, it was a breeze.
What you carry isn’t determined by the maximum weight you can carry, but by how many of any one item you can. For example, you can never carry more than five dynamite sticks at a time, regardless of what else you’re hauling.
A trip around the island can be both thrilling and terrifying. Many horror movie tropes can be found in the gruesome deaths of those who lived in the campsites, as well as the splayed and mutilated bodies of those who died before you.
In addition to the scenes, settings, and clues being horrifying in and of themselves, fighting the cannibal mutants is both horrifying and amusing.
It’s strange to admit, but I found myself feeling quite cathartic—almost therapeutic—as I fought these barely human, horror-movie cannibal creatures. rather than regretting the deaths of the laughing and screeching barely human monsters, I enjoyed hacking them to pieces as they made their way over my walls or stalked me while I was out hunting. Playing the game was like “Facing My Fears: The Game,” in a way.
Who doesn’t have a healthy fear of being eaten by cannibals? As well as using their flesh and bones for food and other purposes, they can also be used for effigies, weapons, and armour. In the course of playing The Forests, my partner and I began to use phrases like “throw another body on the fire” and “bones for the bone basket” regularly.
The Forest’s co-op is a lot of fun, but it’s also really buggy. Up to eight players can play simultaneously on the same server, and you have complete control over how much attention you pay to your fellow players. A large portion of my time was spent playing cooperatively with my fiancée, and we had our fair share of difficulties.
I’m often baffled as to whether an item will persist, exist, or be shared (or not) during a play session. When using an item in multiplayer, it will randomly respawn, disappear, or simply stop working. Even though the experience appeared to be buggy, it was never completely unusable. I’m curious to see how a small group of people working together would fare in The Forest. For this review, I was unable to test this feature.
In the end, The Forest is a mostly enjoyable, if occasionally gruelling, survival game that is kept together by a strong narrative. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it, despite its occasionally buggy nature and janky systems, and I strongly recommend it to those who either aren’t sick of the open-world survival genre or just want a different twist on it.