On April 30, 2018 indie co-op survival horror game ‘The Forest’ is getting a proper 1.0 release after almost four years in development. Changes include, but are not limited to: controller support, “new reasons and resources” to kill hostiles, revisions to the chill and heat systems, new buildables, performance optimizations, multiplayer fixes, improved co-op outfit management, and a possible VR mode. The team also has “some really crazy and fun surprises in store, especially regarding the ending” along with a host of other things waiting to be announced. The game will go from $14.99 to $19.99 USD, so there’s still time to pick up a copy for less if you haven’t already. I reached out to the developers for any news on European and UK releases and pricing, but have not heard back. The Forest currently retails at €14.99 in EU countries and £10.99 in the UK, so it will likely scale at a similar rate to the US price. Read the most recent updates here.
The premise is that you crash land on a remote island inhabited by cannibalistic mutants. One of the mutants kidnaps your son, Timmy, and you have to get him back. Sounds pretty basic on the surface, but it gets weirder and increasingly unsettling as you discover more. The story is told non-linearly as you explore the island and piece together what’s going on. I recommend reading as little as possible about the plot and enemies before playing it because discovery is paramount. When you find a journal or an object that hints at what is going on, it will give a bit of understanding while further deepening the mystery, and that is what I loved about it. Co-op play is even more fun as you survive with your friends and unravel the mysteries of the island.
The heart of the horror is the game’s unsettling atmosphere, enhanced by an eerie soundtrack that plays at just the right times. Jump scares are uncommon, but there are moments of paralyzing terror when you come across a mutant scout or war party, especially at night. The horror is well-balanced with scenes of natural beauty so it never gets routine. It’s a slow burn type of scare reminiscent of Lovecraft that creates a sense of unnatural wrongness. This comes to the forefront even more as you explore the network of caves beneath the island, but I won’t spoil anything further for you.
I played The Forest with friends quite a bit while it was still in alpha, but dropped it once we had done pretty much everything there was to do at the time. The storyline content wasn’t finished so we couldn’t beat the game, but we still got over 60 hours of playtime from it building bases, fighting baddies, surviving, and exploring the island. I’m incredibly excited to see what the true release is like and to find out what the heck is going on.
While Early Access games on Steam have a reputation for devs not communicating with the player base, games getting abandoned, or having sporadic updates, The Forest is proof that Early Access can work. I was hesitant to take the plunge, but I’m glad I did. The team has spent years putting together this amazing game, regularly keeping in touch with the player base, and keeping it updated. When version 1.0 releases, I’ll give it a proper review, so stay tuned!