Now that my computer is set up in my new house, I am able to commit time to one of my favourite hobbies once again: gaming. We wanted something a little different from the MMOs and tower defense games we had been playing over the past few weeks, and were tempted by the allure of horror survival game, The Forest.
Surviving a horrifying plane crash, the last thing you can recall as the game begins is your son’s body being taken away by someone, something, that is barely human. Regaining consciousness, you are alone in the wreckage, with nothing but a few scavenged supplies and your son’s survival book to guide you.
The logical first step is to build a camp near fresh water. Caught up in new-game-excitement, we opted for the first clearing we came across, miles away from any kind of fresh water source. My first venture outside of camp for water led me to the sea (not exactly what I was looking for), where I then proceeded to get stuck on the beach as I couldn’t seem to climb back up the slippery rocks. What followed was a grueling 24 in-game hours walking the coast as we struggled to find a route back into the forest, which also included a stint of late night swimming with almost no visibility at all. Don’t try this at home, kids.
Finally making our way back to camp, we met the inhabitants of the island for the first time. For the most part these creatures are human-like in appearance, but with a distinctive taste for human flesh. Their cries are often the first thing you hear, before they lunge for you with a scream and the swing of a handmade club. Other times, they watch you in silence from the treeline – something that is just as chilling.
After a few nights, and an innovative fresh water source created from the shell of a turtle (being trapped on the beach did have its perks), we were well-equipped enough to fight off our unwanted guests, and we began to learn how to make bigger and better weapons. We’ve got this, we thought. We’re unstoppable now.
So, we packed our bags full of meds and soda, and set off to find the other passengers, and hopefully, our son. We scavenged and fought our way across the island, an invincible force! Soon enough, we came across a hole in the ground, with a rope attached that disappeared into darkness. Perhaps there might be clues down there, we thought. So, we descended down. And down and down.
The piles of bones, the narrowing passages, the distant echo of howls, should all have been warning signs. But we had grown overconfident with our upgraded spears and kept marching on, the sound of stagnant water splashing beneath our shoes. When the tunnel opened up into a wide cavern, I let out an in-real-life scream, as a hellish monster, twisted out of shape with a dozen limbs, ran from the darkness towards us. I’d like to tell you that we stayed and fought, but we did not. We ran, almost blind, through the underground network, up and up the rope once more and charged through the night back to our home, where we vowed never to underestimate the game ever again.
I’ve never played anything like this before, and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the graphics, and what felt like a healthy balance between open world survival and story. Keeping yourself alive isn’t a chore, and if you’re organised then it is a simple matter of remembering to eat, drink and sleep now and again. There are enough animals to hunt and suitcases to break open to keep you healthy. Just don’t be too daring if you want to keep your sanity intact…
The Forest is available to buy from the Steam Store. Trust me, £10.99 is a bargain – grab it before 30th April, when the game is officially released for PC (and the price goes up!).