The Forest (video game)
The Forest is a survival video game developed and published by Canadian studio 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. The game was released for Microsoft Windows in April 2018 following a three-year long early access beta phase, as well as for the PlayStation 4 in November 2018. By the end of 2018, The Forest had sold over five million copies.
In The Forest, the player must survive on a forested peninsula after a plane crash, after which a "cannibal" is seen taking the player's son away.
The player survives by creating shelter, weapons, and other survival tools. Inhabiting the island, along with various woodland creatures, are a tribe of nocturnal, 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 island'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.
The game begins with Eric Leblanc sitting in an airplane with his son Timmy, before the plane crashes on a remote, heavily forested peninsula. Eric and his son manage to survive the crash, but Eric watches helplessly as Timmy is kidnapped by a man in red war paint before falling unconscious. Upon awakening in the crashed plane, Eric goes out in search of his son.
Forced to defend himself from hostile wildlife, and the cannibalistic mutants which live on peninsula, Eric searches for his son's whereabouts. The forest contains clues to help Eric track down his son's kidnapper, who can be seldom seen in the distance observing Eric, but will flee if he is approached. The majority of clues leading to Timmy are in the cave system below the peninsula.
Over time, Eric encounters increasingly bizarre mutations, such as mutants with extra limbs. Eventually, he discovers an abandoned underground lab complex owned by Sahara Therapeutics, a large research company responsible for experimenting with creatures on the peninsula. Upon entering the lab, Eric finds the lab's personnel dead and discovers that they were studying an artifact capable of bringing the dead back to life, but requires a child sacrifice. While exploring the labs, Eric learns that his son’s kidnapper, Dr. Matthew Cross, was a researcher at the facility before losing his daughter Megan to an "Armsy", a mutant with several arms. Driven insane by Megan’s death, Cross resorted to using the artifact to resurrect Megan and kidnapped Timmy to use as a sacrifice. Eric eventually finds the artifact and opens it, but finds his son already dead, sacrificed to bring Megan back to life.
Eric soon discovers Cross dead and that the revived Megan had mutated into an aggressive, cannibalistic monster, similar to the other mutants that roam the peninsula. Eric confronts the child, who seizes and mutates further before attacking him. Eric kills the mutated Megan and attempts to use her body to resurrect Timmy, but the process is a failure, since a live sacrifice is needed. Eric explores the lab further and discovers a second artifact that functions as a type of EMP device capable of bringing down nearby planes, implying that Cross used it to crash their plane.
The game features two endings. In the first, Eric uses the artifact to cause another plane to crash, intending to find a child sacrifice to bring Timmy back to life. One year later, Eric and his revived son have apparently been rescued, and they are invited onto a talk show to promote Eric's book, chronicling his experiences on the peninsula. However, during the show, Timmy collapses and begins to have a seizure, implying he is undergoing the same mutation that Cross's daughter had. If the player approaches Timmy, he will eventually snap out of it. If this is done, players will take the perspective of Timmy, who is now much older, gathering information on the peninsula for an unknown purpose while also trying to suppress his mutations.
In the second ending, the player is given the option to shut the artifact down and spare the lives of everyone on the plane, at the cost of Timmy staying dead and Eric remaining isolated on the peninsula indefinitely.
The Forest was inspired by cult films such as The Descent and Cannibal Holocaust and video games like Don't Starve, and was accepted as part of Steam Greenlight in 2013. Developers Endnight Games have said that Disney was an inspiration for the game, commenting that they do not want the whole game to be entirely "dark and depressing." The game is being developed to be compatible with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. After adding a co-op mode option during development, the team stated that they wished for the game to stay away from the massive multiplayer feel of other games, such as DayZ and Rust.
The development team has a background in film visual effects, having worked on films such as The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Tron: Legacy. The initial budget for the game was $125,000. The game was built using the Unity game engine. The game was fully released out of early access on 30 April 2018, and was also released for the PlayStation 4 on 6 November 2018.
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