Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
I’ve played enough Early Access survival games to have had my fill for now. The Forest [official site] is the one that sticks with me, partly because its enemies are creepy-weird cannibals rather than poorly animated animals, and partly because I’ll never forget John rolling a shark around on the beach. It’s an odd game.
The first thing to note is that The Forest isn’t my favourite of the first-person survival sims I’ve been playing over the last couple of years. That honour goes to The Long Dark, which really is a lovely thing. The Forest is absolutely not a lovely thing. It’s a horrible thing, a gore-laden horrorshow in which you’ll squirm through the intestinal remains of cannibalised innocents and occasionally smash somebody’s face into mush with a big stick.
It’s great to play a survival game in which I actually fear the dark. You never know what’s lurking just beyond the light, in the shadows of the forest. Well, you do know. It’s the cannibals and their uncanny animations (uncannimations?).
They watch, rather than attacking straight away, seeming to breed in the undergrowth. First, there’s one, sprinting between trees and occasionally stopping to observe your panicked reactions. Then you notice another, and another, and another. Like terrifying meerkats, peering over the undergrowth and preparing to strike.
I haven’t played The Forest for a long time and that’s partly because I’m convinced that the oddities of the cannibal behaviour will have been ‘fixed’. This is the problem with Early Access games – I want some of the rough edges to be eliminated but I’d like others to remain exactly as they are.