The Forest is a survival horror video game developed and published by Endnight Games. The game takes place on a remote, heavily forested peninsula where the player character Eric Leblanc and his son Timmy are survivors of a plane crash. The game features nonlinear gameplay in an open world environment played from a first-person perspective, with no set missions or quests, empowering the player to make their own decisions for survival. Following a four-year long early access beta phase, the game was released for Microsoft Windows in April 2018, and for the PlayStation 4 in November 2018. The game was a commercial success, selling over five million copies by the end of 2018. A sequel, Sons of the Forest, is under development.
In The Forest, players control Eric LeBlanc and must survive on a forested peninsula in search of his son Timmy after a devastating plane crash. Players must survive by creating shelter, weapons, and other survival tools. Inhabiting the peninsula, along with various woodland creatures, are a tribe of cannibalistic mutants, who dwell in villages on the surface and in deep caves beneath the peninsula. While they are not necessarily always hostile to the player, their usual behavior is aggressive, especially during the night.
However, the developers wanted players to question whether the peninsula’s cannibalistic tribe is the enemy of the player or vice versa. For example, when first encountering the player, the cannibals may hesitate to attack and instead observe the player from a distance, attempt to communicate with the player through effigies, and send patrols around the player’s base camp. In combat, they regularly attempt to protect one another from injury, remove torches, surround the player, hide behind cover, drag wounded tribesmen to safety, keep their distance, use tactical decisions, not overextend into unknown territory, and occasionally surrender out of fear. They are also afraid of fire, and will sometimes refrain from approaching the player if there is a campfire or torch nearby. Though there are no set missions, there is an optional conclusion to the game.
As the player progresses through the game and explores the caves underneath the forest surface, they will encounter increasingly bizarre mutations, including deformed babies and mutants with several extra appendages. The game also features a day and night cycle, with the player able to build a shelter and traps, hunt animals and collect supplies during the day, and defend themselves against the mutants by night.
As seen in the opening intro of the game, the player possesses a survival guide book that the playable character authors, which contains many useful tips and general information about wilderness survival. The survival guide is also crucial because it allows for the player to build blueprints for various different structures that can aid the player in their survival. The player can choose to build a specific structure and then select a specific place where to place that structure in the world. Once the blueprint is placed, the player then needs to gather the necessary resources, such as sticks, rocks, logs, etc. in order to complete the particular structure. The player can choose from various structures and buildings in the survival guide. These include basic survival shelters, wooden cabins, treehouses, tree platforms, as well as custom-designed structures, which the player can modify in terms of size, shape, and position. Most of the shelters and buildings that the player can build also feature an option for saving the game. In fact, this is the only available method for saving, as there is no autosave function in the game. The survival guidebook also provides information about the wildlife of the peninsula. Once the player comes across a previously unknown species of animal or plant, the player jots it down and it appears in the guidebook. The guidebook also contains a “to-do list”, which lists general goals that the player should follow, such as building a shelter or exploring different caves.
The player also possesses an inventory, which can be accessed at almost any time in the game. Any item that the player gathers, or collects in the world is stored in the inventory, which has a realistic design and shows where each item is stored. Items that can be placed in the inventory include tools, weapons, animal meats, furs, and skins, herbs and flowers, a map, a compass, as well as other things. The inventory also includes a crafting system. Crafting in the game is based on the player’s knowledge about combining different components into useful items and tools. For example, in order to craft a basic axe, the player needs to gather and combine a stick, a rock, as well as rope. Once the player gathers and places all the required items on the crafting space, a gear icon will become visible, indicating that the player is able to construct a particular tool/weapon. In the inventory, the player can also choose to place two desired items/weapons for quick select by assigning them to the D-pad on a PS4 controller or to specific keys on PC.
The player also has a HUD display on the bottom right of their screen. The HUD displays the player’s total health, energy, stamina, hunger, and thirst levels. The amount of stamina available is directly related to the energy amount of the player. Hunger is measured via an icon depicting a human stomach, while the thirst icon depicts a water droplet. Water can be obtained from various sources, including the numerous lakes and rivers present in the world, although most of these are contaminated and can cause side effects to the player. Polluted water can be boiled to purify it. Another option is to construct a water collector, which gathers rainwater in a turtle shell. Food can be obtained from various animals, plants, and even other humans in the world.