I recently acquired a copy of Endnight Games’ The Forest, and let me tell you, it hasn’t disappointed. Despite being my first foray into Early Access gaming (aside from free Beta periods), I have seen a product that delivers what it promises. This is a truly horrifying game. This does what the developers said it would do to this point. There are features that are clearly being worked on, and there are some bugs and glitches — these things are to be expected from a game in Alpha.
There are features that the devs had said they plan to add, and I hope that some of them (particularly multiplayer) make it into the game. Overall, I feel that for $15 you’re getting a hell of a game, even in this Alpha state. I can only imagine how much the game will improve by the time it hits Beta, and full release. This isn’t going to be a review, as the game is still in the works. Rather, I’m giving you ten reasons why you should play The Forest. Here goes:
1. Support for Indie developers + feedback opportunities. There’s controversy about all of the Early Access games that are out there, so much that Steam recently amended some of their verbiage about them (warning that some games won’t ever be finished). Some people think you’re an idiot if you pay for something that isn’t done yet. Kickstarter games have failed, even after raking in a lot of dough. Interesting times, these. Still, some Indie developers are doing things that are fucking amazing, and they can use all the support they can get. In this case, you pay $15 (not exactly breaking the bank), and you get quite a lot of game for your buck. Also, the feedback that Early Access players give can sometimes be invaluable to those devs, and sometimes those suggestions even make it into the final product. You might actually help to make a game better. This team is doing some awesome stuff, and I think they deserve the extra funds.
2. Get access now, watch the game evolve. Don’t want to wait til an actual full release date? Saw a video or read an article and thought “I can’t wait to play this!”? With Early Access titles, you don’t have to wait. Not only will your contributions get you instant access to the Alpha client, but updates are constantly coming down the pipeline. This means you get to see the game evolve and improve along the way. Some people might not enjoy this experience, but I’m looking forward to it. The timer in the above screen shot shows that in 8 days from this writing, there will be a new Alpha client release. There’s also already been a couple of hotfixes implemented, and it seems that the game is constantly being worked on.
3. The graphics are AMAZING! Seriously, I haven’t seen many visuals this impressive coming from an Indie development team. The trend lately has been to use pixels or voxels, and though games like Landmark are using Voxels that look damn pretty, that’s a AAA studio production. Endnight games is a team of four people. The world feels massive and alive. The character models are very nice looking. Animations are smooth and fluid. The game looks damn good, even while running for your life.
4. Immersion = genuine fear. A first person perspective gives you the feeling that you are, in fact, alone in the forest. No one is around, save for animals and the mutant cannibals that want to roast you on a spit. The sounds and overall environment suck you in. I can honestly say this is the first game that made me feel genuine fear in a very long time. I think the last time I jumped during a game was one of the early Silent Hill or Resident Evils. The Forest creates tension from the moment the you’re on the plane heading who-knows-where, as shortly thereafter you are crash landing. The tension never really lets up either. Muties take away your child. When you finally awaken, you are utterly alone and it doesn’t take long for the Muties to come back for you. Soon enough you are jumping at everything that moves, and constantly scanning your perimeter for threats.
5. Emergent AI is a marvel. If you’ve spent the last decade checking out various FPS games, MMOs, or any other variant that has an AI component, you’ll probably note that most mobs do what they are programmed to do. Meaning they are fairly scripted and predictable, and once the optimal method of dispatch is found, very little variance occurs. This is still true to a degree in The Forest, however the mobs’ AI is vastly superior to any game I’ve played to this point. Difficulty in other games comes from behind-the-scenes numbers modification (hard mode = more hit points, etc). The difficulty in this game comes not only from the fact that the mutants are hard to kill, but also because they use a variety of tactics. They mainly attack at night. They don’t attack right away, making them seem almost friendly or curious. Then when you least expect it, you’ve been flanked by another from behind. If you’re running through the forest, one might drop down from a tree to attack. You really never know where it’s coming from next, and this is something I find amazing.
6. Crafting is familiar but excellent and focuses on realism. If you’ve played Minecraft, Terraria or any of the other countless open-world crafting/building games, the crafting systems here will feel familiar. Gather some stuff, build some stuff. However in this game the resources are mostly wood and stone and other bits that you might come across, and at this point there isn’t any mining or hole digging. Also, with an emphasis on realism, you actually have to cut down trees (and avoid being crushed by them when they fall), and can only carry one log at a time. Building a shelter can take some time, and all the while you’re being hunted, so you have to be ever vigilant. Food is pretty obvious, with berries and animals aplenty, though you’ll need some fire to get that meat cooked (which also must be crafted). There are traps and other bits as well, but at the time of this writing I haven’t experimented with them.
7. The Survival system has multiple focus points. Rather than having a sort of progression with skills or experience, the developers decided to keep the player information to a minimum. Not only does this keep the HUD clutter-free, but also keeps survival simple. Health is is represented by a red half-circle, and that is only refillable via medicine from what I understand. Energy and stamina share the other half-circle, and are blue in color. Energy is generated with food and drink, while stamina fluctuates as you perform tasks (this also limits you from sprinting indefinitely). Hunger is represented in the middle of the circle with a stomach symbol. Hunger is replenished with food, obviously, but all three of the factors can contribute to living or dying, and are in good balance I believe.
8. Mechanics that are ripe for Multiplayer. This game screams to be played with a friend. Not only would another set of eyes do you some good, harvesting time would be cut down, and defensive structures would be completed that much faster. Combat would still be difficult because the Muties never come around alone, and they would still be hard to kill, but a friend would make you feel a little more at ease. These are the sorts of mechanics that would also thrive in larger scale multiplayer, or even an MMO style game (though I’m not clamoring for this game to be made into an MMO, I still think that the mechanics would be a welcome change in the MMO-sphere). The devs have stated that small-scale multiplayer is coming, and I simply cannot wait for that. I already know some people I’d bring along for the ride.
9. Social commentary abound. Do you live a sedentary lifestyle? I know most gamers do. I’m guilty of it most of the time myself. It was my first thought when I was running for my life. Would I be able to survive in a world like this? If I was travelling abroad and crash landed on an island of Mutant Cannibals, would I be able to do what this character is doing? It’s not likely. I’m only a little out of shape, but I think that would be enough to damn me. Adding in multiplayer can add more social aspects to the game as well, where we can choose to help or hurt the other players in the game. I have stumbled across other makeshift camps in my travels, so we can conclude that other people from the crash survived, but were eventually captured by the mutants. There’s a good possibility that the multiplayer component can spawn from these concepts. But are we friends, or adversaries? Do I stab my friend in the back to take his stuff? Or do we form a team against the mutants? There’s a lot to examine here.
10. Most of all, it’s a blast! This game is doing things that other games have done before, so you already might have enjoyed some of the mechanics. However, The Forest is thematically different, bringing an element of fear to the budding survival genre. I’ve found fear to be a good motivating factor. Building shelter, traps and weapons all further feelings of safety against the monsters, but you still have basic survival needs such as warmth and food. The combination of being able to do whatever I want, coupled with the feelings of being watched at all times keep you busy. And you can’t sit idly by to read your survival guide or check what you have in your bags, cause the Muties are always watching, and will attack while you are distracted. It’s a great feeling though, being this busy bee that is on the cusp of death at all times. I highly recommend The Forest to anyone who isn’t afraid of a little fear.
#theforest #survivalhorror #openworld #firstperson #crafting