Forest – A Crash Landing

The Forest – a game that literately crash landed into our laps happened to be on sale during March Madness on PSN is a game that certainly requires survival. I choose to play this with Mystic Beast, but before I sell him short, he tried to get me into this game several months ago. The sale was the tipping point that allow me to agree to try it with him. Mystic Beast if you haven’t guessed is our Survivalist Gamer, and if you haven’t seen his Dead Island play-through be sure to check it out.

The closest game I can compare this to will be 7 Days to Die, which is another Survival game, your typical Action, Adventure, and Strategy. Mystic Beast and I have what we like to call a Love/Hate relationship with this game; However, who’s to say we will not grow a similar relationship with the Forest. The Forest advertises itself as an Action game based on a Survival Horror mechanic.

Now I know we didn’t do many streams of 7 Days to Die, and we have considered visiting it again, but their were many negatives that we didn’t like about it.. If you interested in the 28 days we played, they can be found on YouTube. With the Forest, their are a lot of similar mechanics, such as building, enemies attacking, and a key need for survival that are feel the right amount of difficulty. Ironically the Forest has Normal, Hard, and Hard Survival, as well as Peaceful, so even though there isn’t an “easy” mode, Normal is is the lowest difficulty if you want enemies. The winner in my book would be The Forest, and I will be explaining why using three mechanics, Survival, Building, and Crafting.

Survival

Lets start with the Survival Mechanics, which for all the most part is the core of the game, outside of the story. You have all of the Bars shown to you in a nice graphic in the lower right corner of the screen. Armour, Health, Thirst, Hunger, Stamina, and Energy. These are mostly self explainatory, you need water and food to survival, stamina is used up when doing actions like swinging (or attacking) with an ax, the one that isn’t clear is your energy meter.

The energy meter itself also affects your stamina, your level of energy is the maximum stamina you can have at one time. Yes, your energy fills when you sleep at night, but other factors affect this, such as your hunger. If your starving you do not have the energy to do much. Although this mechanic is easy to understand it was slightly annoying because if your energy is low you can basically only swing your Ax once, then you have to wait. This can also be bad because when your surrounded by enemies and you cant one swing them, your left with running, but since stamina is capped you dont get far.

The enemies are the second part of the survival mechanic, which as Mystic Beast and I have learned, they never stop, in fact the exact opposite, the longer you survive you starting seeing much strong enemies in greater numbers. I feel the game does have a sensor of fear, because the mere sounds of screeching enemies still causes a couple of jump scares. I can tell you from personal experience that some sounds more certainly more terrifying than others, but the sheer sound of terror is in no means a description of power, at least not that we noticed. Some stronger enemies do not terrify us with the sounds they make.

Health is by far the hardest to deal with right now for us, but that’s because we haven’t discovered any recipes to refill the bar, there is a slight regeneration affect that has allowed us to keep playing with low health, however this is still probably two or three hits from death. This makes me think of Blacks Ops 3 Zombies that only ever need to hit you twice, and it really comes to play when each hit splatters blood on your screen, and when your one hit away your screen turns gray. Armour is easy to craft, bones, leather, cloth, but I have yet to compare that to the number of hits, because I was too busy fighting for my life to notice. I want to say it helps but we need to play more to know more.

Overall the basics of survival, water being the most difficult to setup due to a need of a pot, or waiting days for rain, is still much easier than 7 days to Die. I know many games trying to find a pot in 7 days could take forever, and if your on the other side of a cold biome you might as well forget it because your dead before you get to it. When it rains, there is a temperature affect in The Forest but it can be tough to fight due to rain putting out your firepit, but with enough leaves you can still warm up to the fire (in the rain). Survival is actually one reason that I like this over 7 Days to Die, because its still challenging but doesn’t feel pointless. Although you don’t have to worry about a reset onslaught every 7 days, the enemies do get harder to deal with as the number of days increases.

Building

My role if it hasn’t been clear in all of the games I play, is building a functional camp, I am a creative person, I love building in all of my games. Prison Architect, Cities: Skylines, Minecraft, and when we played 7 Days to Die I would setup elaborate traps. Mystic Beast has been, and probably always will be the Resource Gather. So how does this game fare with its mechanics. Well the blueprint system is great, and you can even change the color, currently I use green, but other color options are available. Now the downfall is that if you blueprint everything your todo list in the bottom left may get a bit loaded with the resources needed, and seeing high numbers like 200 logs can be a daunting task when you can only carry two at a time. Luckly they have sleds to push around that hold a lot more.

This mechanic is very similar in style with 7 days to Die, you could always see where an item was before you “built” it, the art style is also very similar, so this is one reason I wanted to give this game a chance. I had the 7 days to die feeling from it and had hoped it would have easier survival so we would play it more often. The Guide book I admit is a bit cumbersome to flip through, but you can always go back to the main index and go to a different category. so its still workable. Mystic Beast and I haven’t build many decorations yet, but the few lights I found though purely decorative, are really nice because they do not have to be relit and provide a good surrounding area of light, which has the out of game benefit of us actually seeing whats chasing us at night.

The Guidebook includes a couple pre-built structures such as a wood tent, a couple of different cabin sizes that we are fine with using for the time being while we get used to the game, and they look awesome. The cabin actually fits two to three people comfortably inside. The one downside to building is if you make the unfortunately mistake that Mystic Beast did and delete the blueprint before completion, you do not get all of the resources back, in this case we needed about 80 logs, was at about 70, when it was deleted, and were given two logs in return.

If pre-built isn’t your cup of tea, don’t fret, there is an entire custom section we have yet to explore, the defense walls for example can be any length, and will happily draw a straight line from your starting point to where ever you happen to be, and once finalized will slowly be built in five log chunks, making repairing them easier because enemies destroying items is still a thing, and instead of destroying the entire fence you placed down would only damage a five log section. That’s assuming your not just on the opposite side of the fence endlessly repairing it, because guess what, it doesn’t cost resources to repair.

Crafting

We now hit the dislike portion. Though the crafting mechanic is easily done from any location without a required item. The recipes are not displayed in the guide book and would have no idea what items you would need to craft a weapon until you already had at least one or two items of said weapon. I wanted to start off with this con, because its a constant aggravation for both Mystic Beast and myself. With no way of saying I want a to build an upgraded spear and hunting for items I know I need, I have to have say a bone and a spear itself, to know that the upgraded spear uses the cloth as well. I feel they could have dedicated a page in the guide book to some of the recipes, but instead there’s two pages showing that its done in the inventory.

Now the pro, is that since its done in your inventory you can literately craft anything from anywhere. I also like most weapons can be upgraded, for example your plane ax that you start with can be upgraded to do more damage, or swing faster. The recipe problem though makes playing the game with the goal of not looking up anything a bit challenging. Now I can say with certainty that I have yet to look up any recipes outside the game. My learning has been the tedious task of placing one ingredient in the middle and seeing what options I have. I feel this will get the majority of the important ones, but I have no doubt that I will miss some useful ones. However, the goal is only to survive.

As it compares to 7 days to die, the lack of clear recipes makes the decision harder, but not needing 3 items, to get materials for items is still a plus. I don’t have to worry about a forge for metal or anything. I just have burn bodies for bones. I still like the easy of the crafting process itself though, though ingredients in the middle, click a gear, and done, where as 7 Days to Die had timers for everything. Sadly this means The Forest wins in this category as well.

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