March 2, 2023

Sons of the Forest (Steam) Review | WalaWalaGames

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Sons of the Forest (Steam) Review | WalaWalaGames

By Nick | March 2, 2023
Sons of the Forest (Steam) Review | WalaWalaGames

It's been nearly ten years since Endnight Games first left us gamers stranded on an unforgiving peninsula in 2013's The Forest. Now, the indie studio is back at it again downing birds in the sky like the air force did to balloons in Sons of the Forest, the latest entry in their survival horror franchise.

This time, you're flown into a seemingly desolate island via chopper as armed mercenaries working for a corporation called Puffcorp, tasked with locating a missing billionaire and his family, differing from its predecessor where the protagonist was a father in search of his son after becoming the lone survivor in a commercial airline disaster.

Sons of the Forest (Steam) Review | WalaWalaGames

Can You Escape the Island of Cannibals?

Sons of the Forest gives a choice on whether or not you'd want to tackle the game solo or in a multiplayer lobby with up to eight players. Either way, the game kicks off immediately after a cutscene showing your helicopter being brought down by mysterious gunfire. You aren't given any tutorial or introduction. The fun starts right off the bat.

The gameplay remains largely the same as the previous title: you explore, chop trees, find and craft items, build a shelter, keep yourself well nourished and hydrated, and live off the land hunting critters and growing crops, while doing whatever it takes to protect yourself from a form of life that no one would ever want to encounter on a desolate island: mutant tribal cannibals.

New and improved elements have been added such as weather seasons and smoother character animations, but the biggest additions Endnight Games brings to the table are two helpful NPC companions Kelvin and Virginia (who looks strikingly like one of the missing persons you were sent to search for), as well as modern firearms that you can use to defend yourself in ways not possible in the first game. You'd best get your aim game up, because you'd better be able to click some heads.

Returning from the first game, Endnight Games does an amazing job showcasing the horror that is their signature antagonists. The cannibals, the island's supposedly native inhabitants, come in all shapes and sizes: from being thin, frail malnourished humans to hellish monsters with such grotesque deformities that they look (and act) more like beasts than men.

They come with a complex AI system that allows them to showcase a plethora of behaviors that doesn't just include attacking you outright. Some may watch you curiously from afar, while others may opt to sneak past you and steal your supplies. The "beasts" however, will normally just try to eat you alive rather than stop to say hello, so it's up to you to decide how to interact with the smaller ones. Usually it's best to just put them down while you can.

Sons of the Forest (Steam) Review | WalaWalaGames

Craft, Build, Survive

Aesthetics-wise, Sons of the Forests sports a detailed and stunning landscape with its graphics being nothing short of purely fantastic eye-candy. Quite honestly, it was to be expected from a sequel to a game that still looks graphically impressive to this day despite being nearly a decade old at this point.

The island is many times larger than the first game's map, but the real magic comes with the return of cold, dark, eerie caverns that connect via a network of tunnels. Unfortunately, these caverns are not only the source of valuable items you might enjoy, but they're also home to the horrifying, monstrous nightmares mentioned above, so be cautious if you plan on spelunking.

Sons of the Forest has been released as an early access title on Steam, and already it's doing the studio numbers. However, as great as the gameplay and graphics are, the game's currently being held back by a number of hurdles, none of which being gamebreaking, but definitely things to question longterm replayability.

For one, the game's larger map is a double-edged sword. It's an idea that seems great on paper, but when you consider that the only method of transportation is walking on foot (at least from what I've seen), it definitely becomes a detriment to the game's experience if you can't get around the terrain efficiently. There's a reason why the "Shift" and "W" keys are your best friends in this game. Rafts and the iconic houseboat from the first game are nowhere to be found, which only makes traveling a lot more limited. There seems to be a lot less building options for those who want to express their creativity with wood works, so that's a bummer.

However, the biggest flaw in the game right now is the performance issues in multiplayer. The game runs beautifully in single-player, but that beauty and your framerate will start to dip once you hop into a session with five or more friends. I have a 3070 with an admittedly underpowered 1800X processor that might require an upgrade soon, but my PC can

run just about anything I throw at it at a stable 60FPS. Sons of the Forests, for me, ran at about 30-40 frames, and lowering the graphics didn't seem to have any noticeable effect. Loading in new areas such as caves brings about a brief second of intense stuttering, and in the cases of some friends while playing, led to crashing.

Again, not really gamebreaking, but definitely annoying and something to bring attention to.

Sons of the Forest (Steam) Review | WalaWalaGames

Hello Forest, My Old Friend

Fortunately, I have high hopes for Endnight Games that they'll quickly resolve these issues. The first Forest was released in a similar early access state and officially released with a finished, phenomenal project in 2018, so I fully expect Sonsto to be the same. There's even a countdown to the following update on the menu screen, which leads me to believe that Endnight has a checklist of priorities they plan on rolling out one at a time with each new version. So I'm very optimistic that we'll be seeing a fat changelog in the next coming week.

The potential is there and it's clear as day. The launch may have a few bumps, but Sons of the Forest will live up to the hype.

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