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Game Title: The Forest
Game Style: Survival Horror Game, Solo or up to 8 Players
Developer: Endnight Games
Publisher: Endnight Games
Game Engine: Unity
Summary: The Forest is a survival horror game fit for the whole family! You and your son Timmy survive a plane crash and are abandoned in the middle of nowhere, having to fend for yourselves in the wilderness. The only catch is that Timmy is taken away by a pack of hungry cannibals in the first scene.
What I expected: A linear storyline with actionable survival steps to save Timmy from the hungry cannibals.
What I got: An open-world survival game where everything is a survival resource. I forgot about Timmy in the first five minutes. Who needs him when you can build treehouses?
Who Should Play This Game: Gamers who love an intellectual challenge as well as a scare. Bonus points if you're into Minecraft or the Sims. Very Minecraft vibes here. You'll be happily trucking along making a rainwater collector out of a turtle shell when a band of naked feral humans ransacks your setup and gives you a fright.
By far the most enjoyable part for me was figuring out the different survival recipes and discovering ingredients. It quickly went from "Let's just camp here for the night" to "Welcome to my luxury treetop airbnb property, fit with all-natural rainwater with a seaside view." I felt like the cannibal encounters ending up being more of a nuisance. However, the screeches will send a shiver up your spine.
Developer Insight: I'm 98% sure the developers used the awesome Horror FPS Kit for the core mechanics, and I'm here for it.
Attention to Detail
I believe that games are worthwhile just for the sake of fun. No extra frills needed. We shouldn't need to justify playing games by adding extra value. Being fun is enough. And this game is in fact, fun. That being said, the survival aspect of this game is undoubtedly the shining star in this creation. The attention to detail shines through at every turn.
It almost reminds me of the Inside in the way that death is an expected and necessary part of the gameplay. You have to die to learn what went wrong, which is quite an unusual but delightful gameplay pattern, when done right. The Forest certainly gets this right, and every death is a lesson learned. Just watching this video from a survival expert makes you realize how well thought out every part of the gameplay is.
Incredible sound design.
Sound can make or break the gameplay experience. Don't believe me? Try turning it off, and see how much you miss it. The sound design here really adds to the immersion experience. Even combining items in the inventory system makes you feel like a little pat on the back each time.
Inventory system is unique
The Forest breaks the mold with its unique inventory system, designed to emulate a real backpack. Straying from the typical inventory system adds to the immersion factor, but increases frustration as well. Cue the thoughts of "where the f*** did I put that??"
Especially for indie games, it's important for players to know what to expect. Adding new functionality can delight players but can also hinder adoption to the game. Overall I think it's a highlight, but the small frustrations are worth mentioning.
Room for Improvement
The UI can be frustrating. As a general rule, icons shouldn't exist without text unless they're widely understood, or else they just end up looking like a car dashboard. But that's just a gripe from a jaded UI designer.
The story is optional, and pretty barebones at that. It kind of feels like an afterthought. I feel absolutely no obligation to go rescue Timmy...or Bobby...or whatever his name is. That being said, it doesn't make or break the experience for me since the core of the game is the survival aspect.
The Forest breaks the traditional mold when it comes to gameplay keeping it spicy. Death is an expected and necessary part of gameplay, which keeps you continually learning and plotting your next play-through. As soon as you get used to surviving, the game continues to surprise you. The Forest brings a fresh perspective to the survival horror genre, and is definitely worth a play.