The For­est

Oh, my, the hor­ror


De­vel­oper End­night gamEs • P ub­lisher End­night gamEs • P rice $ Us19.99 • A vAilAble At stEam end­­est


had a love-love re­la­tion­ship with The For­est since I first bought it in 2015. At that stage, de­spite its Early Ac­cess state and com­plete lack of a story, the core game­play loop was in­cred­i­bly com­pelling. I have in­cred­i­bly fond mem­o­ries of spend­ing an en­tire night in the ocean, risk­ing the po­ten­tial of sharks (which, as I later dis­cov­ered, weren’t in the game at that point) rather than deal­ing with the howl­ing hor­rors that lurked in my base above.

Fast for­ward a cou­ple of years, and I re­vis­ited The For­est with a few friends, play­ing around 20 hours over the course of two days. By this stage, The For­est had a story, and that story had us hooked.

De­spite the ad­di­tion of a story, I have other friends who’ve played and love The For­est but who have no idea about the core sto­ry­line. Sure, the plight of your char­ac­ter is ob­vi­ous from the start—save your son Timmy, who’s snatched from your crashed plane by a man cov­ered in red paint—but there’s a more press­ing con­cern that’ll take up the vast ma­jor­ity of your time in The For­est, par­tic­u­larly on higher dif­fi­cul­ties: sur­vival.

This is, after all, a sur­vival game first and fore­most, which means you need to man­age hunger, thirst, warmth and shel­ter (the lat­ter mostly for sav­ing and sleep­ing), not to men­tion the loom­ing threat of death at the hands of the hos­tile in­hab­i­tants of the is­land on which you’re stranded. There’s a deep craft­ing sys­tem at the heart of the game, which cov­ers ev­ery­thing from smaller sur­vival items like spears and bows to larger ones like houses or even the op­tion to pa­tiently build an en­tire vil­lage.

For fans of the lat­ter, there’s a way to play The For­est with­out the many threats that dwell above and below this mys­te­ri­ous is­land. For ev­ery­one else, there’s a com­pelling sur­vival ex­pe­ri­ence that re­wards the cu­ri­ous player seek­ing nar­ra­tive an­swers.

It’s not the kind of tale that bom­bards you with cutscenes (they are in­cred­i­bly scarce and all in-en­gine) and you do need to pay at­ten­tion to clues and items you dis­cover to start piec­ing things to­gether. And while End­night has also added an in­ter­est­ing al­ter­na­tive end­ing to The For­est, I won’t talk about any more story de­tails for fear of spoil­ers.

Suf­fice to say, the dozens of hours it’ll likely take you to ex­plore the is­land, plumb the depths of the in­tri­cate cave sys­tem (un­lock­ing the nec­es­sary kit to fa­cil­i­tate fur­ther plumb­ing), and dis­cover the pa­tient con­clu­sion through

that door, it’ll all be worth­while. I’ve done that full trek twice now, both times in co-op with between three to five play­ers, and I loved it both times.

Re­ally, the main is­sues I have are the lack of hotkeys for items, some un­for­tu­nately per­sis­tent bugs, plus the mas­sive frame drops that hap­pen when en­ter­ing/ex­it­ing caves.

It’s not enough to break the game, but it is enough to drag you out of the fan­tas­tic im­mer­sion that per­me­ates through­out the rest of the game. Re­gard­less, I’ve put 50 hours into The For­est across Early Ac­cess and fi­nal re­lease states, and I still don’t feel like I’m done with it. It’s that good.

For ev­ery­one else, there’s a com­pelling sur­vival ex­pe­ri­ence that re­wards the cu­ri­ous player...

I’m sure they just want to be friends...

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