[WISP] The Forest

(e.g. Why I Stopped Playing: The Forest.)

TheForest_Mountain

Ah, the great outdoors…

Let me start off by saying that The Forest has almost ruined other survival games for me. Nearly everything about it is incredibly slick and intuitive. The titular forest feels (and sounds!) like a forest, and walking through it can be a relaxing experience.

The crafting and building game is on point as well. Instead of filling your inventory with hundreds of rocks so you can craft a furnace in your pocket, you instead lay out a blueprint out in the world. From there, you start building it piece by piece, by essentially “using” the items in your limited inventory. Most of the larger constructions require logs, which you cannot fit in your pocket. So you are out in the world, chopping down entire trees, and then either hauling 1-2 logs on your back or crafting a sled to move ~10 or so at a time. This makes each structure feel important, as you spend a lot of time crafting it and seeing it come together a piece at a time, in a way that doesn’t exist just chopping logs for abstracted resources. It’s hard going back to any other survival games after this one.

That said, the game lost me when it went from being The Forest to The Caves.

TheForest_Caves1

Hope you like this sort of thing, for the entire rest of the game.

Basically, nothing you do out in the world really matters – story progression is essentially exclusive to the cave system that snakes through the landscape. Sure, you need sticks and stuff to craft bows and your other weapons, but the experience of slowly creeping through dark, linear passages and encountering scripted amounts of enemies is basically the opposite of everything that led up to this point in gameplay. Those elaborate traps and your fortified treefort? Pointless. That house boat you built after felling a hundred trees? Pointless.

I mean, I get it. This game is technically a survival-horror, and even the craziest mutants lose some of the horror bits when you see them roaming around in the overworld instead of stumbling into them in a poorly-lit cavern. But really, these are two different games. The most you are crafting in the caves is a tent as a temporary Save location, so what was the point in expanding your carrying capacity? Or exploring the different biomes?

TheForest_Mutants

I dunno, seeing the mutants outside can still be terrifying.

So, I stopped playing. The caves are both nerve-wracking and boring, simultaneously. I have heard that I’m pretty close to the point at which the plot starts to unfold in interesting ways, but that plot is at the end of more caves, which is further from the truly fun and innovative parts of this game. And that’s a real goddamn shame.

Going forward though, I do hope every survival game copies certain elements from The Forest. Don’t let us keep Furnaces in our pockets, especially if we’re basically allowed to build them out anywhere in the world anyway. Make things feel more grounded in the open world. And, yeah, please keep the open world and not goddamn caves.

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Posted on July 18, 2018, in Impressions and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I didn’t like the caves either until I turned up the in-game brightness. They were still dark, but not pitch black in many spots.

    I’ll repeat that you should push to the end (if you have the wall climber, keycard, and scuba stuff, you can go to the final area at the bottom of the sinkhole), the final stuff is about 2-3 hours, maybe, and IMO really worth it. It explains WHY you are on the island, plus a cool twist.

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    • Are all the things you build also pointless AFTER the plot ends?

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      • Yes and no…

        The ‘real’ ending actually ends the game, so nothing you did or didn’t do matters that way.

        The second option lets you keep playing, with a new toy. Personally I think the real ending is the way to go. I watched the second ending and the aftermath on Youtube, and felt kinda meh about it personally.

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  2. Subnautica did the exact same thing. It must be some virus that infects survival game devs.

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    • The transition didn’t bother me nearly as much in Subnautica, mainly because you could still do just about everything you were doing before AND there was a natural transition taking place. For example, when you unlocked the Seamoth for the first time, there was a very obvious area you wanted to explore, but couldn’t, because it was below 200m. So the entire “get upgraded machines to explore deeper” was built into the gameplay. If you wanted to build a base down at 1500m near that ghost tree thing, you could.

      In The Forest, there is pretty much nothing of any particular value in the caves that you needed in the outside world. The entire game could have just been you stuck in the caves, trying to fashion weapons and arrows from the random stuff you found in abandoned camp sites.

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      • True, but irrelevant. While you COULD continue the normal base-building game in the subnautica caves, you had no reason to. The game was about exploring the cave and find the Emperor. Your bases were cosmetic.

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      • “While you COULD continue the normal base-building game in the subnautica caves, you had no reason to.”

        That seems like a different objection. With The Forest, the complaint is that crafting progress and game progress are disconnected. In Subnautica crafting progress is intimately tied up with game progress, because crafting is the only way to go deep enough to progress the story. This objection is more that the specific element of base-building is ultimately unimportant to game progress. You can, afaik, complete the entire game without ever building a base.

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      • @Matt

        Gevlon will not be swayed on that point, as he made a specific effort to prove you don’t need to build a base in Subnautica to escape the planet… and succeeded.

        Nevertheless, I still draw a distinction between the two games. The Cyclops sub largely became my base of operations once it was constructed, and so I actually “used my base” throughout all of the exploration of Subnautica. One tiny section where I had to use the Prawn suit to float above lava does not erase the gameplay connection of the prior 30+ hours to me. That is in contrast to The Forest, wherein nothing I did outside the caves made a material impact to my success inside the caves.

        Or perhaps to put it more simply: the caves in The Forest aren’t fun. Every part of Subnautica was.

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