It’s In The Trees: The Forest Lands On Steam Early Access

By Alice O'Connor on May 30th, 2014 at 8:00 pm.

What a lovely forest! How very plea- OH A MUTANT.

Perhaps it’s time to look at early access releases another way. Don’t become frustrated by games which aren’t yet what we hope they’ll be, find games which right now are something we want. DayZ was once a brisk countryside hike. Star Citizen is still a gorgeous spaceship museum to visit, fleeting perfection for someone who wants nothing more than to gaze at spaceships. And The Forest, well, it’s now on Steam Early Access but has yet to fully round out the survival stuff, so perhaps it’s as close as it’ll ever be to the woodland stroll I crave on a Friday evening.

If anything, it has too many survival elements right now. Chopping down trees, building a base, cooking food, crafting weapons–no, I can do without those, thank you. And why ever would I want to murder a society of mutants? I’d rather talk to the creatures, perhaps even make friends with them.

There’s more survival to come too. Developers Endnight Games intend to work over the Early Access period on extra enemies, improved AI, more things to craft and build, and all that jazz. I suppose that’s fine for people who want survival from an open-world horror survival game.

Thankfully Endnight do have an eye on we forest enthusiasts too. They plan to add an option to play without enemies, though they bafflingly refer to it as a “cheat mode.” Also on the list are co-op multiplayer, new areas, and extra wildlife, which would all make for a splendid stroll. I could tolerate a little survivalism to wander through shady groves and admire fauna with a friend.

I’m being puckish here–churlish, even–but also quite earnest. I do want to explore The Forest peacefully with a friend far more than I want to scrape out an existence in another hostile open world. I do think we might have better early access experiences if we see games as they are rather than dreaming of their future potential, not only because of cautionary tales like The War Z (now Infestation: Survivor Stories). Let’s also celebrate the transitory nature of an early access release, the many different games it’ll be on its path to becoming a singular finished game.

And I would really like to talk to those creatures, even form alliances. Now, that would be interesting.

The Forest is on Steam now for £10.99. Isn’t this a pretty forest?

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35 Comments »

  1. Cyda says:

    I grabbed this the moment it was released, always a gamble I know but I’ve had my eye on this since it was on steam greenlight. It has a lot of potential, it’s quite fun now and looks great, obviously being in alpha state the performance is poor but it is very atmospheric already so I can’t wait to see what a few updates bring. According to the in game countdown on the menu screen, there are 16 days until next alpha release so they look like they could be releasing frequent updates.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      Performance is fine for me maxed out, and I’ve hardly got a beastly rig or anything (FX 8350, 6870 and 8 GB RAM). I’m still getting the same bugs and glitches as everyone else – though I’ve not played long enough to see that many – but the game underneath is working fine. The only real alpha annoyance for me is no save feature. The cannibals/mutants are arguably too god damned tough if they catch you, but it seems reasonably easy to get away from them at the start (felt like a revelation when someone on the Steam forums pointed out “Why not run away from the plane?”). Was doing quite well just now until my guy decided to stare permanently at his feet and the mouse locked out. >_<

      • Seafort says:

        I think you can save when you get a tent or any kind of base built.

        Not played much so far but will be tomorrow but I love the look and feel of the game so far.

        • Eight Rooks says:

          No, that’s just what it says – it doesn’t actually do anything at this point. If you “save” and quit then your only option is to start a new game. Still fun seeing how long you can last, though, before either the cannibals or a bug of some kind gets you.

  2. J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    The Forest looks intriguing, and I love that it’s single-player only.

    Also, I don’t know where to put this, so here will have to do.

    Alice, Graham, Alec, Adam…anyone writing about Dungeonmans yet? That game was released a few days ago (on Steam). I can’t stop playing it.

  3. altum videtur says:

    I like the way FACE MCHUNTER in Metro 2033 put it:
    “If it’s hostile you kill it.”

    It is perhaps obscure and roundabout, but it points at the one true end of life. That one day no creature may escape your almighty gaze. That nothing may exist without your consent. That war, finally, is a forcing of the unity of existence. That war is god.

    *ahem*
    git rekt canibul goi

  4. airknots says:

    Those mutants looks like the player models in Rust.

  5. CookPassBabtridge says:

    This, with Oculus Rift?
    I will just pre-shit my pants now, to save time later

  6. Big Murray says:

    Another game that will pretty much always be in Early Access, and by the time it’s “finished” will already be old news.

    Shame.

    • 111uminate says:

      Sadly I think you’re right on the money.

    • trjp says:

      It’s entirely possible loads of people will have enjoyed it by them tho

      I got all my moneysworth out of Minecraft before it was anywhere close to ‘released’ – I’ve not touched it since – I still think it was one of my better buys…

      The idea that a game should be ‘finished’ before people ‘enjoy’ it is odd – games are fluid things, some evolve constantly – some are never ‘finished’ and it’s entirely possible to enjoy games (esp open-format survival games) even if half the content is missing (in the case of Minecraft that was mandatory!)

    • Mad Hamish says:

      The whole reason Early Access exists is to fund the further development of the game. Without it people might never get to play the game at all.

      • Wedge says:

        Problem is most of the games going up on there don’t have an actual plan for said development and/or lack the talent to properly advance past a tech demo stage.

        • trjp says:

          That’s a pretty sweeping statement with absolutely no evidence to back it up

          List of failures on Early Access so far

          *unrolls large scroll*

          *silence*

          *closes large scroll*

          There will be some games which never become what people expect them to become (arguably all games do that anyway) – some may just die-on-the-vine – but as I’ve said about 1000 times now, so long as you’re happy to pay for what exists now – where’s the issue again?

          Buying a game in the hope of what it will be – rather than what it IS – will always shoot you in the face.

          • HadToLogin says:

            War Z.
            Towns (yeah, I know, it wasn’t officially in Early Access).
            Earth: Year 2066.

            Not much, but not SILENCE at all.

    • Chaz says:

      If I buy into this now, which I may well do, then I’ll probably not play it until it’s done or just about there.

      I have a few in development games in my steam list which I’m leaving until completion.

      I view this no different than Kickstarter except that they provide a playable prototype for me to have a go on if I want to.

    • P.Funk says:

      How many finished games are any good these days anyway?

  7. natendi says:

    The monsters remind me a bit of the cannibals in “The Descent”.

    Quite interested, hope it develops well.

  8. *Junon says:

    With it being called “cheat mode” I don’t expect it to be the sort of pure wilderness survival game I’m still hoping for, my interest is definitely piqued.

  9. markgreyam says:

    I don’t know if maybe it’s just a thing that’s done on RPS, or are you actually mocking the original EDGE magazine Doom review from all those years ago with that final sentence about alliances? If so, that’s some geek cred right there. I like it.

  10. Wedge says:

    Hahaha, yeah these are basically my feelings on the game too. I was all interested in it until I saw it was supposed to be a base-building tower defense game. That’s cool there will be an option to play without enemies, but unless there is practical mod support, I can’t see it being worthwhile.

  11. Buffer117 says:

    Alice I actually think I kind of share your opinion on this. I was quite excited when I saw one of the earlier trailers for this game, up until the point the mutant cannibals appeared. I don’t know what it is about game developers that they think it’s only fun to spend your time exploring, creating and changing the world around you if you are constantly under the threat of death and having that work destroyed at any time.

    I’m one of those people that although I love FPS and games with combat in, I always err on the side of exploration, building and diplomacy over conquest and death whether it’s Civ 5 or Skyrim or something inbetween. It’s why as intrigued as I am about games like Rust and DayZ I will probably never play them, the idea of putting the time into those games only for some asshole to come take or destroy your stuff doesn’t sound fun to me. It’s why I turn a lot of the big enemies off in Don’t Starve, or go entire games without ever declaring war in Civ 5.

    I’m glad this will have a “cheat mode” as it just might make me pick it up.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      I agree labelling peaceful mode a “cheat mode” is a bit weird/off-putting, and having bought and played The Forest it produces no small amount of cognitive dissonance to stand in that world and think “Oh, right, I’m just here to kill things”. But at the same time the developers have been very clear from the start that it’s a world based on cheesy Italian 1980s horror films and their ilk, and I think there’s a point at which contesting that starts to get uncomfortably close to “But I want a peaceful wonderland with happy fluffy bunnies and rainbows and kittens” etc., etc. I bought it in part because it was violence and horror with a clear artistic direction, something I hadn’t really seen before – a game which would at least try to convince me the enemy had more going on up top than LOLZ I HAV BFGUN U DONT U R DED (I’ve got next to no interest in ever playing DayZ, Rust et al).

      It can still be criticised for weighing so heavily on blood, guts and fear, sure! Same as you can – should, even – criticise any number of 1980s Italian horror movies for ridiculous one-note plotting, misogyny and sadism. But even at this early stage there’s still an atmosphere to it, a sense of place with the ever-present threat that’s a world away from the vast majority of “horror” videogames, long before you ever see a single enemy, and I think it comes off as a tiny bit elitist or dismissive to wheel out the same tired old joke for the millionth time in response.

      • Buffer117 says:

        Oh don’t get me wrong, I know the game is being created around, and as, a horror experience. I have no issue with the developers vision and I’m not criticising their direction . My point was more that there are many games popping up in this genre but they all seem focussed on a player v enemy or player v player experience with a background world rather than surviving in a living world with challenges from the environment, fauna and flora. Every survival game I get the least bit excited about is actually a combat game with a survival veneer, as I say originally I stumbled on one of the earlier trailers and was really excited until the horror elements arrived. Thats not the developers fault and I’m actually happy they are putting in an ability to play without enemies it’s a thoughtful response to those of us excited by the world they are creating if not the story.

        I also believe a world without any form of enemy would be dull whether thats animals, people, weather environmental etc. but it would be nice to a play a game and choose when to engage these elements directly or if they do come after you to not lose so much hard work and in game effort in the process. I haven’t played the game so I appreciate your comments. Something with a fear of the threat rather than a constant threat is more of the kind of game I’d be willing to play.

        • Eight Rooks says:

          They may partly see peaceful mode as a “cheat” since they’ve said they’re reluctant to put big predatory animals in – at all – and they want the only real threat to be from the cannibals. It seems as if it really wouldn’t be that hard to survive without them, though that may change as they update, I guess. If they’re not thinking in terms of… a realistic Proteus? then the idea someone might want to turn the enemies off might strike them as a cheat code rather than an alternative way to play.

          Or maybe it was just a poor choice of words on their part, I dunno. :)

        • zentropy says:

          Reading your comment reminded me of “The Long Dark” from KS a while back, anybody know how thats turning out? :)

  12. Urthman says:

    “Don’t become frustrated by games which aren’t yet what we hope they’ll be, find games which right now are something we want.”

    OMG, this is so right on. This entire early access craze was started by Minecraft. And why was Minecraft successful? It sure wasn’t people watching videos and thinking, “That’s a neat idea that might be a good game someday.” People saw Minecraft and said, “I don’t care if it’s done, it looks like tremendous fun right now, take my money and give it to me NOW!”

  13. AyeBraine says:

    The game’s comparatively realistic graphics made me think, and chuckle. What I thought was, what an enormous bother it would be to build even a single portion of a log fence (stockade, it’s called, which I learned just now).

    First, you gotta dig a very, very deep hole. That’s about half an afternoon for a regular bloke from a random airplane crash, and only if he has an actual factory-made shovel. Second, you gotta saw a log off a fell tree (again, many hours if you’re alone, and only possible with a big, heavy-duty, nicely sharpened saw). Then half an hour to sharpen the log. Again, if you have an axe, of course. And then a truly magnificient spectacle: you trying to pick up a fucking log, stand it upright and stuff it into a hole in the ground. All on your own.

    I suspect that the first log of a stockade would also be the last for the protagonist of The Forest. Afterwards, he would spit, say “Fuck that shit”, fall down and sleep on the ground for twelve hours, and start digging a damn hole in the ground (which can be nicely reinforced with _horizontal_ logs).

  14. McCool says:

    PC Games journalist in “What if we could talk to the monsters?” shocker.

    Seriously though, you are right on. I think the pure survival game we all crave is very close, who knows it might even end up being a mod for this spiffing looking thing.

  15. zat0ichi says:

    Open world game where you can hack things.

    Awesome.

  16. alegna4u says:

    Is The Forest the scariest Survival Horror game of all time? Check out the review below

    http://www.mmorpg.ph/reviews/the-forest-review/

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