Five nights in the Forest: A Virtual Survival Diary
Price:£10.99 (Early Access) Developer: Endnight Games Ltd. Publisher: Endnight Games Ltd. Platform: PC
The Forest is a survival game currently available on Steam Early Access, which casts you as the survivor of a plane crash lost in a woodland environment teeming with life, not all of it welcoming of your presence. It’s a game I’ve personally been looking forward to for some time, so I decided to check it out in its current state, and see how long I could stay alive.
Turns out being in a plane crash isn’t very good for you. I’ve awoken in a broken strand of fuselage with only a sliver of health, and a glance at my hands reveals I’m covered in blood.
There’s a button in the game dedicated exclusively to raising your hands to your face, which I only discovered because it happened to be the same button I bind Steam’s screenshot function to (backslash, in case you were wondering). This says a lot about The Forest’s design intent. It wants to you feel physically attached to this highly vulnerable body, and personally connected to the harsh, uncaring world around you.
I may be a mess, but I’m a darn sight better off than the other passengers, who are all suffering from a severe case of death. The immediately obvious thing to do is to explore the aircraft wreckage. I chow down on a few leftover airline meals (needs must) and locate some medicine in the rear compartment, which takes care of my ailments for the time being. I also find an axe. I wasn't aware that planes carried axes. Presumably it's for cutting through a wreck such as this, or perhaps in case of snakes. I'm sure I'll find many other uses for it, anyhow.
Outside, luggage is strewn around the crash site. I try hitting a case with my axe and it cracks neatly open, revealing a snack bar and some medicine. I concern myself with opening as many suitcases as I can find, ending up with a small harvest of sugary snacks and pills, and enough soft-drinks cans to build another aircraft out of the recycled aluminium. If only I had a degree in avionics and access to industrial machinery.
There'll be no Flight of the Phoenix style recoveries today, and that was a rubbish film anyway. It’s time to think about survival. Apparently I’m the kind of person who carries a survival guide around with him on holiday. How fortunate! Contained inside are “blueprints” for shelters, fires, traps and so forth. I decide to build a hunting shelter, which requires logs, rocks, and branches to construct. Sticks and stones are easily come across on the forest floor. Logs, however, require me to chop down a tree.
It may only be in the early stages of development, but already the Forest is an extremely satisfying game in a tactile sense. Player movement and actions are conveyed with a clear understanding of weight and momentum. Case in point, lumberjacking. The axe bites into the trunk with a pleasing thunk, spraying splinters onto the ground. When it falls, the tree does so slowly, branches creaking and cracking as it tumbles. Lugging logs around is equally gratifying, giving some small indication of the time and effort it takes to build a shelter in the wilds.
I also pile some more branches together to build a simple fire, which I ignite using a lighter I’m carrying. By this point the sun is setting, so I figure enough is enough for one day. I turn to watch the sun dropping behind the treetops.