The Forest – Preview (PC)

The Swiss Family Robinson except with cannibals – The Forest

Survival horror games  have been on a resurgence lately, but rarely do they take the survival aspect so literally. In The Forest, you play as a plane crash victim whose son has been kidnapped by naked cannibals. So, naturally,  your first course of action should be to eat some berries and construct a shelter, like The Swiss Family Robinson except with cannibals instead of Christian values.

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The Forest’s story is lackluster, but we kind of expected that, afterall it is an open world survival game with perma-death. That shouldn’t put you off though. As with any survival game, the story is what you make of it. How you play and what you experience is the story. It just so happens that our stories all sucked and in many cases involved falling off of cliffs.

If you can survive the first few nights and properly acquaint yourself with the controls and peculiar rules of The Forest, then you’ll find that the crafting and resource gathering feels very natural. Chop down trees to get wood, pick up rocks to get rocks, fish to get fish, cook fish on fire to get food. It all has a natural flow to it and in another setting would even be relaxing; that is, until the cannibals show up and try to eat you.

The combat is the worst aspect of The Forest in this early stage because enemies are just far too resilient. The fear of a cannibal leaping out is severely ruined when the next thirty or so seconds are spent beating them with an axe only to have them pop up again and again. This will likely change, but at time of writing, it is an issue we couldn’t ignore.

But enough about gameplay, what today’s gamers really care about is graphics right? Well, The Forest is impressive considering how early in development it is. The environments are very vibrant and filled with life, birds rest upon branches (Though they do tend to fly into the path of axes quite often) and frogs can be seen in the ponds. Rays of light flicker between the trees and cannibals wander aimlessly into the water like majestic merfolk. While the environments are beautiful (Except for underwater which appears to not exist yet) and the crafting system is natural and flowing, the experience is difficult to appreciate as countless bugs ruin the immersion.

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This may sound anti-cannibalist but all the cannibals look the same, it’s very difficult to tell them apart. Well, until the multi-limbed creatures came out. As you continue to build your walls and traps, venturing out only to gather food, all memory of your son is completely forgotten, amd the cannibals come in greater numbers. We could recommend the game purely on how terrifying these sections are. It almost feels like tower defence as you construct a clever array of traps and bonfires to protect yourself with. When they work, it is a great feeling. When they don’t (Often because those boulders don’t have collision detection) it is a horrible feeling because everything you have built is lost.

The Forest is still in very early alpha as the developers stress and may be disappointing to play in its current state if you had expected a more complete title but it does promise to be a very engaging and terrifying experience from what is currently in place. If you can stomach the glitches and texture pop-in, then The Forest is worth every penny. If you’d rather have a more complete title, we recommend until at least the beta stages. Oh, and the developers have stated that there will be a cannibal free mode for those just wishing to enjoy a beautiful world to survive in and Oculus Rift support.

The Forest is available now on Steam.