Early Access Showcase: The Forest

As my eyes begin to open, the first thing I gaze is a creepy mutant standing with what I assume to be my child. He mysteriously walks away from me, so I rise to my feet and begin to scavenge the wreck of a plane crash I was just in. Quickly grabbing as many supplies I can carry, I happen to stumble upon an ax stuck in a bloody corpse. Now feeling a tab bit more secure, I venture out into the wilderness. After reading my survival guide, I realize the first thing I should do is construct some sort of shelter. I grab my newly acquired ax to chop down some trees and gather other resources to build my small shelter in hopes that would get me through the night. Unfortunately, my sleep is disturbed because I hadn't built myself a source of heat and began to experience hypothermia. It is dark and the only source of light I have is a lighter. I need to find some leaves and branches in order to create a fire as well as go hunting in order to find some sort of food.

As I crept through the forest looking for materials to create a fire, I hear something off in the distance. I can't tell exactly where it was coming from but I know I heard it. As I go further into the forest I see a form that appears be human. I decide to approach it. Indeed it is human but something was different about him. He looked exactly like that weird guy I encountered earlier on the plane. He notices my presence and stares at me ominously. To my surprise, the figure runs away instead of attacking me. Thinking nothing of it, I continue my hunt for materials for my fire before going back to my shelter. After cooking my food, my preparations for sleep are interrupted when I see him again. This time he wasn't alone. Accompanied by five people, I am clearly outnumbered and unprepared for this encounter. The moment I take my eyes off the pack to equip my ax I am rushed and beaten down. I wake up in a dark cave. Freaked out, I take out my lighter so I could see. At this moment I experience one of the scariest things in recent memory. I am surrounded by a group mutants and as soon as they see my light, I see that same ominous stare from earlier but this time I didn't make it out alive. I survived zero days.

This is The Forest. A survival horror game that throws you into an incredibly detailed world with the intention of forcing you to find creative ways to survive for as long as possible. The world is gorgeous and I felt really immersed while playing. From the rays of sunlight gleaming through the trees, to the wildlife roaming around the forest, everything that developer Endlight Games has done to emphasize realism seems to be paying off so far. The Forest features a real time day and night cycle that causes gameplay to drastically change depending on the time of the day and weather. For example, daytime was spent gathering food, crafting traps, exploring or building shelter, but when the sun went down, so did my chances of survival. Nighttime is when The Forest truly comes alive. There are nocturnal, tribal-like mutants that roam the forest. These creatures rarely travel alone and will attack you or your camp.

The AI is easily one of the most standout features I have come across thus far. These mutants are extremely smart. When approached, they may try to attack but typically will run to get more mutants and find you at night. If they are hurt, mutants will help each other out by taking injured comrades out of the danger area or retreat when the tides turn. The smart AI also made me do things I wouldn't typically do. Sometimes these mutants have no intention of doing you harm and just want to observe you. This made me analyze the situation instead of trying to attack all the time. A recent update now allows you to play the game without the threat of mutants. This allows you to explore the wilderness and learn different ways to survive without the threat of death around every corner.

One thing I really liked about The Forest is how there are a variety of different ways you can try to survive. During my first run, I tried to make shelter in the forest because I could be closer to the resources I need and possibly conceal my location. Unfortunately, after that first day, the mutants were too much for me to handle and I eventually was killed. Next time, I built a cabin on the beach. It took several days to complete but when finished, I had a more reliable shelter and a source of water. I begin to set traps on the shore to deter any nocturnal mutants as well. I think I'm on my 8th or 9th day, but I'm running into issues with supplies so I may have to eventually move camp.

The Forest is still in Alpha stage so bugs and glitches are of course still here. I've encountered annoying save issues as well as crafting issues but it's expected. So far the game has really kept me interested and each time I play I seem to learn something new. I'm looking forward to see what the rest of the game will offer and this is definitely an Early Access game I plan on actively being involved in.

This is your Early Access Showcase feature for The Forest. For more features for the month of August stay tuned here on Darkstation and don't forget to visit earlier features as well.

Writer for Darkstation since 2014. I've been playing games my whole life and starting writing about them in 2010. Outside of gaming I enjoy anime and watching my Philadelphia Eagles let me down every Sunday.