There are plenty of great games based on books, but I’ve never seen an adaptation as unconventional as The Forest Cathedral, a dramatic reimagining of Rachel Carson’s science book from the ‘60s, Silent Spring. Carson’s book investigated the pesticide known as DDT, its harmful environmental impacts, and the misinformation that allowed companies to indiscriminately use it. The Forest Cathedral reimagines this series of events as partly a first-person walking sim across the woods and partly a 2D platformer set inside scanning equipment. So, yeah, not exactly a one-to-one adaptation.
The game follows Carson as she begins her field research on the mysterious Science Island, inspired by Pennsylvania's beautiful woodland nature reserves (coincidentally called the Forest Cathedral Trail.) After a while, the island won’t let her leave and the effects of DDT become increasingly apparent. Looking at the trail’s seemingly endless, towering pines, I can pretty easily imagine the environmental horrors that might be lurking past the trees.
I’m excited about the environmentally empathetic story, but Carson also faced waves of attempted silencing at the hands of chemical companies. If properly represented in-game, that conspiracy could be The Forest Cathedral’s most interesting thread.
Playing as Carson, you’ll be exploring the creepy forest with a set of environmental scanning tools that reveal oddities in the world through red static lines - kind of like ghost hunting equipment, looking into an unseen world. In certain situations you’ll transition into Little Man, the pixelated character that platforms across said red lines; dashing, jumping, and pushing blocks like he’s in another game entirely. Publisher Whitethorn Games say this mix of 2D platforming and 3D exploration will lead to connected puzzles, and I can’t wait to untangle them.
The Forest Cathedral comes from developer Brian Wilson and Whitethorn Games - the same publisher behind other indie gems such as Wytchwood, beekeeping sim Apico and Lake. The Forest Cathedral will launch on Steam and Xbox Series X|S consoles on March 14th.