The Forest Alpha Review
This review is based off alpha v0.02. The Forest has frequent updates, and therefore this review may not be accurate in the future. We may publish an updated review in the future.
You’re alone. You’re cold. It’s so dark that you can’t see beyond the edge of your firepit. Wait, what was that noise? It sounded like it came from over there. You can see the outlines of someone in the darkness, smoothly gliding between the trees. There’s something out there, and you don’t know what it is. Welcome to The Forest.
The Forest bills itself as an open world survival horror experience. It’s survival in the aspect that you’re literally trying to survive the wilderness, and it’s horror because you don’t know what sort of mutants are out there beyond warm glow of your fire pit. Luckily for you, you have the ability to choose how you want to handle any and all situations. Will you forage for food? Build a cabin? Put traps around your food supply? It’s really up to you, and there are plenty of options already at this early stage in development.
The Forest reminds me of those movies where people end up stranded on an island or in the wilderness. The only exception is that instead of Wilson the Volleyball to keep you company, you have bloodthirsty cannibals/mutants. After your plane crashes and you witness little Timmy (according to the latest changelog) taken in the wreckage, you are let loose on the island with nothing but some granola bars and small hatchet. That’s it. There’s no overarching goals or incentives beyond your own curiosity. I imagine Endnight Games will eventually add more of a story to The Forest, but as of now it is solely the core, survival gameplay.
The focus on survival revolves almost entirely around crafting and gathering materials. With your hatchet, you can cut down trees, bushes, and skin small animals. There are a variety of strucutres you can build, and you can even build your own custom buildings. It’s not as simple as a game like Minecraft or Rust though. Many of the larger structures require you to haul many (sometimes dozens) of heavy logs around, and you can only carry two at a time. Seeing as each tree usually has around 4 logs, you certainly have your work cut out for you as you deforest the island you’re stranded on.
You can spend all day attempting to build a house, but all that deforesting will leave you hungry and fatigued. Luckily, there is plenty of local wildlife to butcher and utilize. For example, rabbits can be tamed and bred to keep you with a steady supply of food, while lizards can be skinned and used as an armor. If you’re lucky enough to find seeds, you can even harvest your own miniature farm.
In my experience, the first day is always the most difficult. It’s not so much a problem of gathering and cooking rabbits, but surviving what comes out at night. Unfortunately, the island is inhabited by mutant cannibals. The mutants patrol the entire island, and god forbid they come across your little campsite. If you have a fire, you’ll see the mutants shamble around just past the light of the fire, watching you. If they manage to attack you, good luck because odds are you’ll be killed. It’s not that the combat is poorly executed, but rather these creatures are meant to be difficult and tough to manage. If you do manage to kill a mutant, you can chop his limbs off and build an effigy out of it. How quaint.
Speaking of which, the first time your health drops to zero, you don’t actually die. Instead, you wake up as a hostage inside a cave. I suppose this could be a sort of double-edged sword because on one hand there are about a dozen mutants wandering through the caves, but there are also plenty of supplies. If you’re lucky, you just might find a flare gun or an upgraded axe deep within the cave. Regardless, don’t lollygag in the cave; there are creatures in there that nobody should witness.
Odds are you won’t make it past the first night. Nine out of ten times, my head will end up on a spike while my body is being roasted over a fire. I don’t think that is necessarily my fault though. My experience with The Forest has been marred by an absurd amount of technical issues, ranging from performance to strange AI behaviors. The recent v0.02 update has fixed a lot of these issues (as the game was nearly unplayable for me in it’s initial release) but The Forest is relatively unstable in its current form. I’ve spawned in the world without seeing the intro cinematic, and not in the plane. I’ve seen trees fall over and their logs shoot into the sky. I’ve seen myself get stuck inside walls, and mutants become completely inanimate in the middle of a fight. There is no consistency.
Buy, Try, or Avoid?
The Forest is an impressive alpha, and I wholeheartedly recommend anyone interested in it to keep an eye on it as it progresses. The bugs and technical issues are a given for a title so early in development, and with the frequent updates I have no doubt in my mind that they will be squished in time. With some fine-tuning, additional building options, and some more variety in the wildlife, The Forest will be a state-of-the-art Robinson Crusoe simulator.
Interested? Head on over to The Forest on Steam.