When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in The Forest, you run like a Kenyan or die like a dog. In fact, I am pretty sure most dogs have better deaths, but I am not here to debate that shit with you. The Forest is fucking brutal, and you feel it every bleeding second. It starts with your character pulling himself from a plane crash covered in blood and it ends… well.. I haven’t seen it end happily yet. But the title screen shows two heads tied up on a stake with intestines that connect through the mouths and wraps around the necks. And they are upside down. Yea, shit gets nasty. This game is also in pre-release, so remember that there is a lot that is still missing.
At the start you are on a plane ride from a presumably civilized location to god knows where when the plane is ripped in half rather suddenly. It’s not exactly like there is a fucking smidgen of turbulence, just a loud bang like something hits the plane. I am going to venture a guess here and say that someone threw a homing spear and it tore the plane in half. With all the bodies and everything that seem to litter the forest, the locals have some kind of vastly successful marketing campaign that lures in hapless morons so they don’t go hungry. Cause cannibals can’t eat each other! That’s how they get diseases! On the plane with you is a little kid. He is cuddling your arm until the plane breaks apart, then he is white-knuckling the arm rests. When you come to, you are laying in the aisle and this mostly-naked wildman is standing over the kid. No worries, he picks up the kid’s bloodied body and carries him off into the untamed wilderness. It’s ok, though. Plenty of happy-endings start that way, right? I am sure he ends up in a Disney-Pixar plot line where his father’s death in the plane crash is the tear-jerking opening. And the fucked up reality is that I am really fighting cannibals and mutants in the woods for years to come. Magical.
Once you are able to get up, you need to look around you. This is likely the last solid chance you get to search the wreck. All about you there is soda, booze, some food and a cellphone. This cellphone is very important because it sets a keynote for what useless, shitty inventory items look like. It doesn’t really do anything except tell you the weather, the temperature and how far you’ve walked. Let me repeat that: In a game where you spend your time OUTSIDE IN THE FUCKING WILDERNESS you are given a goddamn cellphone – a separately programmed mechanic – that tells you if you are cold and what the weather is like. Of course, that step-counting feature is the major point, I think. It lets you know just how many steps you take to get between the forest line where you cut trees, spot natives and run for your fucking life. Naturally, useless.
Now, I died numerous fucking times right out of the gate. The game tells you to page through a survival guide and see how it might help you, and it does at first, but it fails to mention there are cannibals creeping up behind you preparing to gnaw your ears off. Like chewy little snacks… I started right next to a cannibal village the first few times, and walked right in just like “Hey guys, nice grass huts!” They tore me apart. The second time I kept my distance, and they overwhelmed me before I had the chance to build a fire. Strangely, fire is what keep these loonies at bay. They see it and back off like, “SHIT! He has gypsy magic!!” Before getting the fire together, though, the guide has you build a little stick shelter to sleep in. This is how you save your game, so it’s important, but don’t sleep right away. You’ll wake up at night with cannibals gnawing on those delicious ears again. The last tutorial shows you two plants: a blueberry bush and a bush with black-colored berries on it. I specify because the first is edible, the second will fucking kill you. Important. And these are not the only edible plants in the game, just two of them. The rest you have to figure out by trial-and-error! And I mean, most survival books are specific to a section of the world or a continent and give you a wide variety of things to eat in those places. Whoever wrote this book just kind of implies that there are other things out there you can and cannot eat: either madly sadistic or profoundly lazy. Not to mention, you can eat certain animals in this game but not others. Why can I eat rabbits and lizards but not the fucking frogs and birds? And why not the shark that washed up on the beach? I know I would be using that for days. Just cook it up really really well and add some salt from distilled seawater. Maybe some seaweed for flavor.
This is one of those places that the game is still vastly unfinished. I am sure that there will be more added to this book given time, but right now it is pretty useless for finding food. Your best bet is killing animals for food anyway, clearly not a game made by vegans. Although there is a vegan mode where the cannibals won’t eat you. Makes it a little easier. The primary role of the book is to help you build things. Those ghost-walls you see up there are what happens when you place something. It creates an image of what you are building and you bring materials over to it, building into the image. Really neat, overall. Of course, you need to be careful where you place things. A ghost-image cannot be removed right now, not that I could find anyway. Then there is the matter of cancelling an object. Say, you want to build a fire. In your panic to avoid slipping into the stomachs of cannibals, you accidentally select the head-on-a-stake effigy. You’ll have to go back into the book and then exit or select something else to cancel the head. Now I was panicked, and that is the story of how I got a head-on-a-stake next to my cooking pit. It’s a little unsettling, but it’s a great conversational piece that adds seasoning to my skinned rabbits and lizards. The most frustrating element of building is you have to look back into the book every time you want to plan out a section of wall or build a fire. This makes sense the first time, but it gets old after the thousandth fucking time. I would have memorized the best method for building a fire after having to read the book a bazillion times. Early on all your construction should be fueled by soda and candy bars you got from the crash and luggage around it. This gives you food and energy enough to get a good bit of a citadel plannedand built before the cannibals become too much of a problem.
O, yea, effigies? That shit is fucked up. One way to keep cannibals at bay aside from filling your camp with campfires is to set up little effigies. Effigy is a nice term though. Really, you are creating survivalist outsider art with the limbs of your fallen foes. Fucked up and brutal. The best part is, they only keep the fuckers back as long as they are on fire, which they stay lit for like, an half hour at most? Then there was this problem I had where it was raining almost constantly. So, apparently I am in a sub-tropical rainforest. Those aren’t fucking common, but they exist. This might help me pin point where The Forest takes place. There seem to be no tropical plants that I can determine, and there is a shore. The natives like taking body parts and wearing them like feathers plucked from a peacock. The animals tend to be small and there are a lot of lizards. At first I would think Russia, but there aren’t any wolves and it can’t be Africa since no one is black. That would be racist. Then again, nobody looks asian, but some pacific islanders look white, right? Best guess, this takes place in Oceania, not too far from New Zealand. What likely happened is all the hipsters and vegans banished the meat-eating people to an island and there they went fucking crazy and started eating people. Of course, that was years ago, so they’ve all but forgotten about them except in stories and tales. This is why you find hikers and campsites out here where no one in their right fucking mind could ever consider camping. I assume they are hikers because they are miles from any roads and there aren’t any off-roading jeeps or anything. Then again, they could have come in by plane, given there is a lake nearby and the seashore is accessible.
There is also an interesting crafting system that reminds me of the Zork games where you combine different things to create something else, like a bottle of booze and a rag makes a molotov cocktail. Of course, there aren’t a lot of recipes to figure out at the moment. The survival book naturally doesn’t tell you how to build any of these things, either. I remember reading the military Field Manual on wilderness survival, and that shit is comprehensive. I would have bought a better manual if I were this guy.
Of course the cannibals in this game are the early enemies and the source of a lot of fun. Before the mutants come and ruin your life, the cannibals are just funny as shit. First off, they run around shrieking and generally acting like they think they’re zombies. They’re all naked, including the women, so seeing some boobies every once in a while is nice, even if they are weird and dirty. Remember all the booze from earlier? Use a few of those bottles to make molotov cocktails, and let it rip. These things take out cannibals like nobody’s business. You’ll need the rest of the booze to make bombs for use against the mutants. When you die, you also go to this fucking cave full of terrifying shit, but I don’t want to talk about that again. The least the bastards could do is just let you die. It really does say a lot about a game, too, when you can take one guy’s arm and smack his friends to death with it. There is a little problem with killing enemies with fire, though. The enemies will die and their corpses remain standing.. and breathing. You can smash them apart with your axe, and the legs even stay there. Then there are the women. Sometimes you will kill them with fire and they will change from a hairless weirdo to a woman with hair. Then you smash them apart like a blood balloon and their body parts turn into male body parts. It is just a little weird. All the mechanics are there, but the models and art have to catch up. Generally this game screwed up where Minecraft excelled. The Forest chose some spectacular graphics not realizing that all that detail leaves HUGE fucking holes. There are so many graphics bugs in the game that going into them at length is its own fucking essay. Minecraft had crappy graphics that were ridiculous by comparison to other games at the time. But it worked and did its job so well that it is a gaming sensation. The graphics were simple and clean. This allowed the developers to move on to other, more important things, thus Minecraft had more to start with than The Forest. Right now, this is a great game, and 14.99$ on Steam is pretty reasonable for where it is in development. I would wait a bit on this game, though, if you expect a good and complete game. Should you choose to invest right now (and I would advise waiting until it goes on sale again), don’t wander too deep into The Forest and it’s still pretty fun.