Sons of the Forest review in progress – hungry for more

Our Sons of the Forest review finds this long-awaited sequel to The Forest full of the kind of spooky atmosphere that’s enough to make even the most iron-willed among us squirm in our seats. We’ve played 16 hours so far and made it to day 12, having experimented with different starting strategies across multiple playthroughs. We’ve more to see, and will update this review-in-progress periodically as we do so, but so far our experience suggests it’s a fantastic game – albeit not without its flaws. There’s a nagging feeling that Sons of the Forest may have bitten off slightly more than it can chew.

The game is certainly fun and engaging, and for only $30, it feels worth the price of admission, especially since the developer promises continuous updates. But it’s important to note just how much it feels like The Forest. Sure, there’s more vegetation, a bigger map, new build mechanics, more variety in crafting and weaponry, and creepier mutants — but it sort of feels like you’ve seen it all before. Perhaps that’s the point: to take what worked and build from there, literally and figuratively.

The Forest, redux

The story begins with a plane crashing into a remote island, mimicking that of its predecessor, though a few elements are new. One difference is that in this case, you headed to the island intentionally in an attempt to find a missing billionaire. The game draws on a twisted, humorous sensibility to build its narrative through environmental storytelling, just like its predecessor.

In many ways, this storyline, paired with the familiarity of the environment, makes Sons of the Forest feel less like a sequel than an upgraded version of the original game. The basics are the same: survive cannibal attacks, explore the island, and fight mutants in spooky cave dwellings.

Sons of the Forest review: A baby-like mustant being.

It’s easy to see why the developers chose to release the game in early access. It’s certainly fun to play, just as The Forest was a great game as well. But you can see where the devs have left themselves room to fill in the details; the map is huge, and some parts feel remote and barren. Perhaps this is a good thing for players who seek to avoid cannibals and mutants, but the smaller map in the original game provided more opportunities to wander across random elements.

Sons of the Forest – survival challenges

As an open-world game, Sons of the Forest is not linear, and part of the fun is working out what to do next. You have a GPS tracker that guides you to some locations, and that’s helpful to a degree, but I would have loved a way to add tags to certain locations, without which I kept having to look up the Sons of the Forest map to navigate the game.

Because I could not fully track my locations, it became a constant battle between trying to outlive mutants and cannibals and hoping to find the items I needed to progress. As someone looking for a spoiler-free solo playthrough, there seems to be a lot of aimless wandering with the hope that I find these items. The keycards. The shovel. The shotgun. How long should it take a person to find these things without resorting to looking them up?

Sons of the Forest review: A mutant being attacks.

Perhaps that’s what gives the multiplayer mode a broader appeal, as players can revive one another and work together to defend against hordes of cannibals while covering more area in a shorter time. Your first in-game companion, Kelvin, can do a lot for you, but he can’t help you figure out where you’re going.

Sons of the Forest adds an interesting difficulty spike as resources become sparse in the winter. When it’s cold and the lakes and rivers have frozen over, you no longer have easy access to fish, meat, or other items you need, meaning it’s a race against time to prepare yourself properly – and adding a nicely horrific twist in that chopping up your enemies becomes a tempting option for food. Sometime around Day 12 is where I usually start to struggle, and though I could have done several cheeses to stock up and survive the winter, I chose to restart to be sure I could adequately prepare the next time around.

Sons of the Forest review: A death screen in the survival horror game.

Sons of the Forest – a great game so far

Sons of the Forest is an utterly engrossing game, and in losing myself in it, hours went by as I explored. For me, the main concerns are in content density, lack of direction, and a lingering feeling of being unfinished which, to be fair, is totally understandable from an early-access title. The building is a little clunky. There are visual issues with certain animations. It’s also given way to many hilarious glitches, including a physics issue that launched my character into the sky while chopping down a tree.

If you can tolerate these issues, it’s absolutely still worth playing. We’ll plan to update this review as we make our way through the rest of the game. If you’ve already jumped in and are enjoying it, you’ll want to see our Sons of the Forest building guide and Sons of the Forest tips. For more spooky thrills, check out our guide to the best horror games on PC.

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