Preview: The Forest Hands-On Impressions

The Forest was released on May 30th, 2014, on PC through Steam’s Early Access program. The game is currently in development by Endnight Games. A download code was provided for preview purposes.

I don’t remember the first time I saw the trailer for The Forest. It was probably not long after its original premier back in May of 2013. I can picture myself watching the events unfold as the plane the character is on crashes and leaves the person stranded in some grand wilderness. The video shows the survivor managing to put together a rudimentary shelter and small fire to escape what must be a cold and dreary rain. Cut to the camera beginning to wander through a nearby cave, the character coming across heaps of skulls and bones. Something briefly moves on the ceiling of the cave and pale, featureless humanoid things begin attacking and chasing you. The trailer stops there, and I remember, vividly, shaking my head and saying, “Nope…I’ll never touch that one.” Fast forward a year and some change and here I am writing about the Early Access version of the game.

The Forest is a game of survival. Not just fighting off the starving and depraved cannibals that litter the island you are trapped upon. But, survival of the elements, hunger and even infection. The last one hasn’t been added to the game as of yet, but sooner or later that feature will be added to the piles of factors in the game that are there to ultimately kill you.  You awaken to the aftermath of a plane crash, as previously mentioned, to a half-naked pale man taking what I assume is your unconscious son. As the screen fades to black, the game has now given you a reason to do more than just stay put at whatever campsite you muster up. It’s not just about surviving this nightmare of a forest, but you must also rescue your son. When you finally wake up, you are treated to the back-half of whatever commercial airliner you were flying on. After picking the plane clean of food, a pedometer, and a trusty axe that conveniently implanted itself sharp-end first into a flight attendant, you should move on. Multicolored suitcases may or may not litter the crash site, and that’s because every new game started places the plane in one of several random locations. Cracking a few open with your new weapon will reward you with cloth, medicine, energy bars, and an occasional tennis ball.

When I mentioned moving on, I wasn’t kidding. After a short amount of time, a small group of flesh consuming locals will pay the crash site a visit. Chances are, if you are still there, you will probably die. If you do make it out of there alive, and you didn’t kill any of them, you are probably now being followed and will eventually die. What I would recommend doing is heading towards water. If you find a beach, I would very much consider making that your base.  With a simple click of “B” on the keyboard, you will pull out a Survival Guide. It is filled with tips and hints to extending your time in this virtual world. The wild berries you should and should not consume will be listed, and there is also a section for crafting. Selecting any of the blueprints exits the guide and gives you control of an outline of the object you will be putting together.  Choose where you want to place it in the world and then begin adding to it by simply pressing the “E” key as long as you have the resources on you.  Most of the plans that call for anything larger than a fire pit, will require you to chop down some of the trees for the wood logs.

Seeing as the game is still in it’s Alpha state, there are a few quirky bugs that plague the game. The trees you chop down don’t seem to have any weight to them and sometimes get stuck in the branches of other trees. When the trunk finally makes the transition into three to five logs, you’ll usually see more than a few flip up and spin into the air. It can be funny, but also frustrating when you have to go in search for these necessary resources. Fire does not scare away the local wildlife so expect to see streaks of flame across the ground as rabbits, birds, and lizards as they set themselves ablaze. There seems to be a larger amount of enemies now compared to previous versions. It could be bad luck, but I regularly have to completely restart my game when not just two or three of the cannibals appear but a dozen or so.

The Forest has been fun, terrifying, and frustrating. When I screw up and test my luck in exploring the environment only to result in a messy death I blame me. When things are going well and gameplay bugs screw up my game I try to remind myself it’s still being worked on. Endnight Games has been very good with regular updates that fix known issues and add new features. At $14.99 I’d recommend the game to anyone who enjoys playing these Early Access titles and being a part of the development process. If you are looking for something that resembles a more finished product, I would definitely say to hold off on The Forest. I myself am going to step away from the game for now. I’ll continue to check on the list of updates as they roll out, but will hold off on going all in until the game is officially released.

About the author

30-something married guy living in a suburb of Chicago. Have 2 dogs, love playing video games, enjoy reading and writing about said games, and sipping on a nice cold beer.