Have You Played… The Forest?

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.


  1. SMGreer says:

    It’s actually only got better and stranger, the cannibal’s behaviour far more sophisticated but no less intimidating. One of the most consistently improved early access games going and it was a pretty great game when they first released it.

  2. anHorse says:

    I tried it a bit, but I felt that a) the enemies just distracted me once I’d got set up and b) the “endgame” I was working toward was easily obtainable

    Still though it’s the only fpsurvival game that isn’t long dark which I’ll consider going back too

  3. montorsi says:

    One of the few survival game purchases I haven’t regretted. None of the zombie games I bought seem to have any zombies in them, but these cannibals are a weird and intimidating enough substitute.

  4. machstem says:

    I love(d) this game but gave it a break, and then I found out you can play without the cannibals so I started playing a saved game in which I just explore and build.

    The thing that gets me, still, is the sheer beauty of this game and how the little world around you starts thriving with life once you’ve basically established a homestead.

    The way the wind blows into a crowded forest and the trees sway with the ‘woooosh’ audio track, makes it feel quite realistic.

    The freeform building is what initially kept me going, and chopping the trees down gives me a satisfying feel when I fell one.

    All in all, one of my favorites.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Leucine says:

    I tried it briefly last year, I think and then again recently. Again briefly, because I had no idea what I was meant to be doing and the constant attacks by the cannibals meant not settling down in an area that looked perfect. Seeing machstem point out it’s possible to disable them may tempt me back. But it still feels a bit too rough for me. Even something as simple as combining items, adding one item, seeing a list of possibilities but no prerequisites or even a hint as to where to look next (I exhausted what seemed the obvious choices to no avail) put me off.

    Perhaps when I’ve had time to faff about, make mistakes and bungle forward without the ever present pressure of trying to survive the murderous cannibals I’ll be better suited to making progress.

    Like yourself, however, I’ve been utterly captivated by The Long Dark. I tried it last year and gave up after my first day ended prematurely with being eaten by a wolf. I thought perhaps it was simply too difficult for me. Fast forward to last week and I decided to try it again; my first attempt is still going, almost fifteen days in. It nearly ended in disastrous failure but perseverance somehow saw me to Pleasant Valley and now I’m safe and well stocked.

    My second is far better, having seen me secure a wealth of supplies and start the arduous task of gathering necessities to forge tools and make bows and arrows. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll survive but I’m enjoying it all immensely. The cold, the loneliness, the dark inside buildings and caves oddly reminds me of Penumbra and its sombre tone. Whenever I go into the mines and see the old and crumbling supports, rusted shelves and lockers, I can’t help but feel like Philip, descending into the unknown.

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to just gush about something else but perhaps it’s that I tried The Forest again after having been playing The Long Dark and the former just doesn’t scratch the itch the latter did.

    • machstem says:

      All you have to do, while at the main menu screen, is type the following:


      There is no prompt, just start typing it and you notice it change. I loved this style and it reminds of minecraft; no real reason to build, but enjoying the atmosphere and what you can do to survive.

  6. Cramdown says:

    I like this game a great deal. I love the tension between crafting a huge fort and attracting too much attention, the weirdness of the cannibals, the little clues scattered around the island, the unpleasant cave diving… It’s quite well done.

    I do wish the risk/reward of building and the power curve of cannibal attentions were better balanced. I feel like I go from ‘oh hey here’s a lone warbling cannibal stumbling across my drying rack hidden in the trees’ to ‘oh hey here’s a small platoon of horrible boss cannibals to wreak havoc’ way too quickly.

  7. davebo says:

    I’ve played a lot of The Forest and 100% has been co-op with a friend. It’s a fun way to kill time but they really need some more objectives to achieve other than just hoarding supplies, which is pretty easy. The development has been consistent but I’d gladly trade off some degree of stability and bug fixes for more actual content earlier on. Every update is chock full of fixes for things I never noticed or had a problem with, while I’m dying to be given something to “do” in the game world.

  8. InfamousPotato says:

    I looked at this game awhile back, and thought it sounded fun, but I haven’t given it a try yet. It sounds like it has improved a lot in the past year. Would those of you who’ve played it recommend getting it now, or waiting another year?

  9. Jane Doe says:

    I bought it a few months ago and give it a new try every four weeks or so. Its a refreshing sight to see it progress regulary (after I got burned by the DayZ Standalone). And, unlike in virtually every other survival’ish game since STALKER, I actually fear the environment, most notable the chilly caves. They are a masterpiece of world building.

    I actually convinced a few of my friends to buy it, just so that I don’t have to go caverobbing alone anymore. Its still scary as heck. We usually play a round of Rock Paper Scissors to determine who has to take point.

    The Forest will take a good long while before it is finished, but it is a superb example of successfull Early Access at work.

  10. FuktLogik says:

    Gawd. This game has been in early access for what, two years now? Sure be nice if they actually got around to finishing it one of these days.

    • metalmouth says:

      I’d argue that this game is one of the better examples of an EA title – they release updates every two weeks or so, have hotfixes for critical issues within 48 hours of any gamebreakers being found, and are quick to respond to community outcry.

      And honestly, for an open-world game of this scale, their rate of progression feels just about right to me – keep in mind that Skyrim took around 3-4 years to develop. A game developed by a 4 man team making progress like that of The Forest is almost incredible by comparison, considering the pacing and quality of updates.

  11. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    Just.. don’t buy Early Access games. Don’t do it. They’ll never finish games if we keep encouraging this kind of thing.

    • nasKo says:

      Quite a lot of those games would never be finished if nobody would buy them. I disagree with the statement “don’t buy them”. I’d aggree with ” don’t buy them for what they can be but for what they are at the time of your potential purchase”.

      • Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

        It just seems like those that DO come out are exceptions rather than the norm.

  12. Unsheep says:

    I haven’t played it but have followed VintageBeef’s youtube playthrough of it. The game is definitely entertaining to watch, and the developers keep adding new and interesting stuff to the game.

    However I prefer to play Stranded Deep, The Long Dark and Subnautica. I want to focus on crafting and survival, there’s too much combat in The Forest for my liking.

  13. Viral Frog says:

    I played not too long ago. I don’t know what the cannibal AI used to be like, but they’re brilliantly done. I’ve heard they’ve been improved quite a bit. All in all, The Forest is the only EA survival game that I would ever recommend to anyone.