Introducing the Forest, a plane crash lands on an almost deserted island, and you, a sole survivor, must find a way to survive. However, it doesn’t take long before blood-curdling screeches fill the night and flickering eyes appear in the distance. Setting in that your new home isn’t as empty as it first seemed, the Forest transforms into a unique, harrowing experience you won’t ever forget.
Cannibals inhabit grassy fields and pristine lakes around you, watching your every move; they are the source of ever-present tension in The Forest. You would expect such monsters to strike on sight, but their action is erratic.
Often they charge you to unsettle during the daytime, then pause beyond the striking distance to gaze in silence. Other times, they could feign a retreat before jumping into nearby trees to get behind you quickly. Enemies of the Forest aren’t easy to foresee, making each experience exciting.
The Forest does an excellent job of getting these surprises out when you’re still trying to handle critical meters and resources. It’s also crucial to keep a close eye on the resource quality you find. Not every berry bush has an abundance that won’t poison you; not all water is safe to drink. Meat from hunted animals can rot if not cooked quickly. None of the resulting illnesses is too severe to dissuade you from consuming questionable food if you have no other alternative, but worrying about what you consume adds another dimension to the minute-to-minute hunter-gatherer gameplay.
Cutting down trees for logs or scanning a route to clean water is essential in your first few days on the island, and once you settle down, this aim changes to strengthening your role with a foundation, and maybe elaborate spike traps and tree swings. The sheer number of structures you can create is fantastic and, luckily, The Forest doesn’t send illusive blueprints to your imagination. At the start, you get a notebook packed with outlines.
Building influences the island in many ways. Over time, resources like small game and shrubs will respawn, but larger trees will remain felled throughout your stay. After you start, you can turn a dense forest into an open field of stumps, which gives enemies a more precise line of sight in your acts.
The longer you’re on the island, the more violent your aggressors become. Patrols will expand, and the more monstrous monsters will emerge for an all-out attack. However, the Forest doesn’t compel you to play in any particular way, so a more relaxed nomadic approach is often better and more viable. But the sheer joy of seeing an enemy cause a well-placed trap during a raid is priceless and worth the risk of angering locals.
Crafting smaller objects also plays a significant part of personal safety. Your inventory screen helps you to combine items you’ve acquired to create new tools; from anything as simple as connecting a few sticks and stones to make an axis, to making high-powered explosives using a mixture of wristwatches, electrical boards, and spare change.
The number of items you can collect and craft is vast, but the inventory page gradually becomes daunting to navigate. And with only four customizable hotkeys, you don’t have quick pinch access to anything you like.
Uncovering The Forest is not a solitary task, and it provides cooperative play for up to eight people. The time spent having and operating a fortified settlement is significantly reduced, but just as convincing. Joint activity, however, deflates the exposure sensation. Larger groups of enemies become easier to deal with, and both voice chat and the fact that enemies don’t scale accordingly weaken the fear of jumping into caves alone. The Forest may be stupid fun with friends, but it’s best playing alone.