For those of you that are familiar with open-world survival game The Forest, it will be no surprise to you that there is a growing sense of excitement, and dread, at Endnight Games’ upcoming sequel, Sons of the Forest.
Receiving widespread approval among critics and fans alike, the 2012 original put us in the unfortunate shoes of Eric LeBlanc who, after surviving a devastating plane crash, is left to fend for himself, searching for his missing son deep in an unknown forest. Appearing at first to be a simple survival game, The Forest has you searching the wreckage to salvage anything of use and trying to stay alive, alone in the elements.
But the forest isn’t quite what it first seems. Faint howls and grunts become louder as the days progress. Bushes rustle and twigs snap just out of sight.
And then, you see them.
Without giving too much away about the first game (as you should really play it if you haven’t already), the sequel – Sons of the Forest will be directly linked and set in a similarly inhospitable environment. Trailers lead us to believe that it will be even more unnerving, mysterious and downright terrifying than its predecessor. Rather than alluding to the impending threat that the build-up in The Forest gave us, we already know to expect horrifying creatures so the surprise comes more from seeing just how horrifying they have now become.
Presented to us with a pulsing 80s synth soundtrack John Carpenter would be proud of, and in stark contrast to the original, the trailer jumps straight into the action as a military helicopter is brought crashing to the ground by a mysterious creature.
What follows is a hellish montage of slow-moving, almost elegant, mutants that are rife with kinetic potential. The kind of potential a slow creeping spider has before it scuttles towards you, legs scurrying and fangs bared. We come face to face with haunting, eyeless monstrosities that send Silent Hill-like chills down your spine.
We are also introduced to Virginia, a graceful three-legged creature who, it is implied, is a potential ally or companion – something that was lacking in the first game. Maybe she will bring some welcome relief from the crippling loneliness that previously made the fear so palpable? It also appears that the game might feature other survivors of the crash, though it can only be imagined what fate lies in store for them.
Sons of the Forest promises to be everything the first game was and more. The storyline looks to be far more involved (in the original you could actual complete the game while barely following the story) and the time spent by the developers thinking of new and exceedingly more grotesque and Lovecraftian monstrosities has clearly been extensive.
The creatures look absolutely terrifying. From the small cannibalistic, troglodytic curiosities, to the unspeakably monstrous ‘fingers’ (appendage-lacking creatures that boast a giant maw lined with finger-like teeth) and the snaking form of conjoined, naked twins acrobatically rising above you or slithering across cave walls. The body-horror is extensive as we make our way through a forest riddled with diabolical abominations that would fit in well on the production set of ‘The Thing’.
The developers have said the A.I. in Sons of the Forest will significantly surpass the previous game, allowing for extremely varied and intelligent responses and behaviors from the forest’s inhabitants. The whole spectrum of human (or inhuman) emotions will influence the reactions and decisions made by the creatures in the game.
The reactive A.I. in the original game allowed for perceptive adaptation to your direct actions. Enemies would become more inquisitive the less threatening you seemed but progressively more aggressive as you ventured into, and destroyed, their habitat.
Endnight Games have said the A.I. in the sequel “allows for the creation of some extremely complex behavior, and characters can now become afraid, tired, angry, hungry, thirsty, bored, etc., and these feelings influence their decisions.”
It looks like these increasingly intelligent enemies will have you continually rethinking the way you fend them off and defend yourself as they learn and adapt to your actions. The apparent intellect was striking and exciting in the first game and looks set to be even more remarkable and realistic in the sequel. Endnight have said that the A.I. can do things like steal logs, zipline into your base, or even just mess around with you.
Sons of the Forest will also include weather mechanics that will constantly change your surroundings and make things harder or easier depending on the scenario. Frozen ground will be difficult to dig, heavy rain will help you keep hydrated, snow will leave footprints to follow (and be followed); the possibilities are immense.
With each season, the vegetation, resources and conditions will change, again forcing a constant adaptability on the part of the player.
Sons of the Forest pledges to leave the player even more traumatized and agoraphobic than before. The previous game, as terrifying as it was, was clearly the calm before the storm; and the storm is definitely coming. This game should be solidly fixed on your to-play list and heavily embedded in your nightmares.
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