Game Review: The Forest

How to Eat Your Neighbors.

May 18, 2021

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As the lone survivor of a passenger jet crash, you find yourself in a mysterious forest battling to stay alive against a society of cannibalistic mutants. Build, explore, survive in this terrifying first person survival horror simulator.

The Forest is another game in the Survival Genre which tries to use Environmental Storytelling to push a plot. You can play with your friends or you can play alone - which definitely gives you a different experience. Alone - so I’m told - feels a lot lot a horror game where you’ll fear leaving the walls of whatever you’ve built. With friends, it was good fun but definitely doesn’t feel like a horror game: FREE BONES!

We’ll start with the stuff I didn’t like first. Like most survival games there is crafting for shelters, walls, defenses and cooking. Unlike most other survival games that I’ve played, crafting buildings in this one feels pretty pointless. There are about four buildings that actually matter: Drying Rack, Bonfire, Water Collector, Shelter. Anything that produces light barely matters and you have to constantly feed fuel to the fires to get the initial “overburn” to really see in the darkness - or really far at all.

Walls are fun but we built on an island off the coast of the main island so we basically just started building random stuff for fun since our base never got attacked. Which is real unfortunate because this game has one of the best building systems I’ve ever played with. The buildings are cumulative so you can build what is basically a blueprint that your friends can collectively dump resources into. And, everyone can see them and since there is a visual blueprint you can actually lay out your base “Blueprint” in full for discussion. What a great idea!

Since it’s Environmental Storytelling, you can basically skip all of it until the end while murdering everything along the way. This is what happened to us - we ended up running into the caves to wipe out the natives and just kind of picked up whatever we found - on our way to kill more of the natives. This isn’t really the game’s fault but more the way we played so beware of missing stuff until the end when you have no choice but to address the story that you don’t really understand.

The combat is surprisingly fun and one the better Combat systems in a Survival Game. Ranged weapons are not broken and do not nullify enemies into a shooting range and melee feels really good with trading blows with the Cannibals. This isn’t really due to the system being complicated but much more about how well done the animations and the interactions with the Natives themselves: they flee, they try to kind of spook and intimidate you, they call their friends. Enemy and animal variety was pretty good and you get introduced to newer enemies at the right times - at least for us. Learn how to block; you’re going to need it.

I mentioned the Night above but it’s really a positive: when it’s dark it is fucking dark. Wandering around at night can get you lost really fast. Everything moving around you - leaves, trees, animals - will making you constantly on edge thinking about if you’re about to get attacked in the dark. Following enemies in the dark is just hard so you wont know how many there are nor where they ran of to. Running around in the Forest really does feel like moving around in the woods stumbling onto deer and opposing murderhobos while you try and find a stable water supply.

A few annoyances around multiplayer we ran into where one time we died and my friend had to afk to do something else. And, I got stuck in the plane behind him for a full hour - not game time, real life time - since it was impossible to actually get around him to play the game.

Another is that the server doesn’t actually save the state. You must save your own character at shelters otherwise you lose progress. This makes absolutely no sense at all when we’re playing on a server being hosted by someone else. You will lose progress if you don’t personally constantly save.

Another was that since we were all doing our own tasks and split up often, some of us didn’t end up having all the tools necessary to get to the end of the game. As a five-man group, one of us got stuck behind because of this while we basically tried to finish the game. If you do this then the bad news is that you all have to vote at the end otherwise you can’t finish the game. We ended up just watching the endings on Youtube after doing all the work to get to the end.

Also, game works in Linux completely in Proton 6.3-4.