Review: The Forest
At a Glance
|ESRB Rating:||NR - Not Rated|
|My Rating:||Adults - 18+|
|Review Published On:||June 24, 2020|
To save your game, you'll need to return to any shelter or bed you've built. This makes it very important to be able to return to your base quickly, but you can also throw together a temporary shelter wherever you are and save there. When you save your game, you'll be able to choose between several save slots. This also allows you to save more than one copy of your progress.
While this game is fun, it's heavily saturated with realistic blood and gore. Even on the Peaceful setting, there's more graphic material here than in some of the other violent games I've reviewed.
Welcome to the Forest, a rather grisly survival horror game.
Stuck in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to help you survive beyond an axe and some miscellaneous items you can salvage from the plane, you'll need to build a shelter, find food and water, and hope to last long enough to figure out how to rescue Timmy and escape. That's also easier said than done, as this place is crawling with territorial and cannibalistic natives who are less than happy that someone else is out there. Worse, as time goes on, more disturbing examples of inhumanity start showing up, increasing the likelihood of you becoming somebody's dinner.
Yet, while there's enough to keep you busy on the surface, the real adventure is found in the cave networks that span the island. You'll need to need to prepare yourself with handmade armor, weapons, and portable foodstuffs before travelling into any of them, as it's easy to get lost in the dark caverns and many of the fiercer natives and mutants have made their home down there.
Should you survive all of that, you'll eventually find your son and learn the terrible secret behind this island. Here you come to your final decision -- continue the cycle of tragedy and save your son, or let him go and live out the remainder of your life evading the natives.
That's roughly the Forest's entire story; compared to more story-driven games out there, it's barely a story at all. But that's okay; it's mainly there as a framing device for the rest of the game. The real fun comes from dealing with the monsters and surviving the harsh environment. The lush forest is teeming with detail, and the creatures that live here are frighteningly intelligent. This game's world was intended to feel realistic, and it shows with the complex ways the natives behave.
Unfortunately, the realistic feel of the game's world is also the source of most of its issues. Blood and gore is very detailed, and you're going to see a lot of it. Hunting for food is just one example, as you and your tools can be smeared with fresh blood as you kill, skin, and butcher your prey. Fighting with the natives can get even worse, as blows to the head can knock some of their teeth out and if you manage to kill a native, you'll need to dispose of the body fairly quickly.
Now, there is an option that allows you to play through the game without having to deal with the cannibals and most of the mutants. This "Peaceful" option greatly changes the mood of the game, as you're free to do whatever you want at your own pace, with the only dangers being the local fauna and the elements themselves. Personally, I really like this mode. It feels like I'm playing a video game adaptation of a book I loved during my childhood. Sadly, I get the impression that this was not the intended experience, as this mode only prevents the monsters from spawning -- all of the gore found in the world is still there.
I'd definitely suggest giving the Forest a go, provided you're not very squeamish and old enough to handle the disturbing content you'll be exposed to during your game. The ever-present danger of being caught by the cannibal tribes keeps you on the edge of your seat, or if that's not your thing, play on Peaceful and immerse yourself in a virtual life among nature.
Points of Interest
Another optional challenge is to locate everyone else who was on the plane with you at the start of the game. There's a passenger manifest in the back of the plane's wreckage; it's somewhat easy to miss, but once you've collected it, you'll be able to keep track of which passengers you've found. Of course, none of the other passengers are going to be alive when you find them, so don't hope for a miracle.
Spending your time collecting these items is optional, but you will earn some achievements if you can find every item in certain sets.
On the other hand, the same cannot be said of the birds in this game. They have an extremely poor sense of what's going on around them, meaning that you can literally walk up and skewer a few birds from a group before any of them notice. They'll also happily land on whatever you've built, which makes them an even easier target.
Alternatively, if you're interested in collecting them, there is also a set of Steam trading cards available.
Part of the issue here is that building larger structures requires a lot of time spent chopping down trees and dragging the logs to the building site. Like other things, this is handled very realistically, meaning that chopping wood is tedious and you can only carry two small logs at a time without using a sled.
Concerns and Issues
Dealing with the natives either involves direct melee combat or various traps which can do the job for you. Regardless of which you choose, you'll need to dispose of the body once the fight is over. You effectively have three options. Firstly, you can burn the body, which will leave a pile of bones behind. The skulls and bones you gather this way can be used to craft various items or decorations. Secondly, you can chop the body up and use the pieces to create very disturbing structures called effigies. Those are intended to spook the natives and keep them away, but their effectiveness is not guaranteed. Presumably the reason they aren't reliable is because the cannibals also make their own effigies, which decorate their villages and paths through the forest. Your third and final option is to chop the body up, cook the pieces, and then consume them. This allows you to indulge in some cannibalism yourself, though why you'd want to is beyond me.
Lastly, the caverns are filled with the leftovers from the cannibal's meals. You'll find their "larders" in several caves, along with skulls and other unidentifiable remains left hanging around. Also, the first time you get killed by the hostile creatures on this island (or just bad luck), the natives will happily drag you to their main larder and string you up as a snack for later. The second time you die in game, the game is over.
The most dangerous type of mutant you'll encounter in this game is a bizarre slug creature, which can summon many more of its kind and assemble themselves into various "colony creatures" that are very suitable for killing you.
Also, you'll find a number of nude bodies in the caverns, but a pile of corpses is hardly attractive or tempting.
Evidently, the scientists working in this lab didn't quite get their research correct. Some time after being brought back to life by these ancient machines, the subjects suffer from extremely severe seizures, contorting themselves horribly right before their humanity is ripped away as they reform into the mutant freaks you've seen around the island.
Knowing that the artifacts don't entirely work as desired, do you still use them to resurrect your son, or do you let him go?
If you choose to resurrect Timmy, you'll need to use the lab's equipment to crash another passenger airliner and sacrifice someone else. Your other option is to shut down the equipment, leaving Timmy and the research behind.
If you choose the latter option, you'll be able to return to the surface and continue playing as long as you like, effectively enabling an endless play mode with some special items that affect the way the natives behave around you. Just fair warning: if you're not playing on Peaceful, this is going to get much harder as a miniboss variant of the game's final boss will begin spawning above ground.