Tying in nicely with the Steam Early Access Release, today we are taking an early look at ‘The Forest’ by Endnight Games. It’s a first person open world survival horror simulator currently in development for PC and Oculus Rift support is promised very soon.
You are the apparent sole survivor of a plane crash which sees you enter a living, breathing mysterious forest, lush with greenery and heavy woodland. The graphics are utterly sublime. The world has changing weather patterns, plants that grow and die. Tides that roll in and out with the day/night cycle. Below ground explore a vast network of caves and underground lakes. Above ground, trek to the summit of tall mountains across sprawling landscapes or bum around on the beach. However, it soon becomes apparent that you are not alone.
Horror – Done Well
The malevolent beings in The Forest are reminiscent of something from ‘The Hills have eyes’ and like all good horror, nothing exploits your primal fears as much as the goose pimple inducing phobia generated by being in the presence of something superficially human, but unrecognisably savage such as The Forest’s bat-shit scary genetic mutant cannibal clan. Warning: visually induced incontinence may result from playing this game.
Welcome to the Open World Survival Genre
Survival is the name of the game and this starts with scavenging. You’ll begin doing this from the plane’s supplies scattered around the crash site but these provisions soon run out and you’ll be forced to venture further afield to hunt for food and search for water. That is, of course, if you aren’t forced to decant sooner, since the crash itself attracts the unwanted attention of the mutants whom will eventually come searching for you, stalking, hunting and if you’re not careful, killing you.
For hunting, naturally you’ll need tools. Rather than lessening the feeling of immersion through crafting menus, everything is done in real time in first person. Find a stick, for instance, and you can sharpen it on a rock to create a rudimentary spear. More complex creations are possible, though you’ll have to search for the raw materials and use your cunning ingenuity to combine the items appropriately and come up with something robust and effective.
Endnight Games want this world to be as interactive as the current generation allows. With no traditional storyline to follow or cut scenes beyond the initial aviation disaster, the focus is on making the world highly dynamic and letting the gameplay mechanics emergent from this. For this, the world needs to be as engaging and interactive as possible. For example, every tree in the game can be chopped down. This would [wood?] obviously change the landscape drastically and would literally take months if not years, but the choice is there. You are in control of your actions and your surroundings, although the latter is also influenced by external events and beings.
This is apparent, even in the early alpha release version. Flora and fauna are rich and abundant. You will have to hunt a variety of wildlife, using differing styles of pursuit, capture and killing to appease your hunger. Alternatively, for the vegetarians and vegans among you, there are plenty of herbivorous culinary options available, just be careful not to poison yourself, eating the wrong kind of berries.
Beyond basic sustenance, you’ll also need shelter and protection from the elements. The nights are cold and you’ll need to build a campfire or take cover somewhere warm. Sleeping is as necessary as eating and drinking but you’ll need to ensure you get your shuteye somewhere safe, either hidden or surrounded by self-built traps and defences.
Eventually, you’ll want to venture further into the vast world of The Forest. Certain materials will only be available underground for instance and if you want to build bigger and better weapons/habitats/whatever, you’ll soon find the initial area lacklustre. Heck you might want to migrate purely for the sake of a change of scenery.
VR and Motion Tracking support… Eventually
Endnight Games stated early on that they intend to make the game fully compatible with the Oculus Rift. While this is optional, it is of course recommended for a more complete and immersive experience. The game released today on Steam but this very early Alpha version Early Access Release does not yet allow use of the Rift. They have however promised that later alpha updates will include support for the Rift. With the DK2 due for release in July, this might be the perfect time to support the newer and improved HMD and allow some feedback and debugging in preparation for a consumer version.
Motion tracking isn’t specifically promised yet but Endnight Games have stated they are watching this space tentatively, to see how the technology progresses and will do whatever necessary to implement support when the time is right.
We here at vr-gaming are rooting for this game to be a success and if you’re not fully convinced yet then hopefully these poplar trailers will make you pine fir more…[ouch!]