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The Forest: survival, horror and the guilt of killing – interview

Wednesday, 29th January 2014 08:32 GMT By John Robertson

John Robertson meets Endnight Games to discuss the horror game influenced by 70s movies, I Am Legend and… Disney?

The _Forest

“Our vision was always a game in which half of the time it’s a place that you really want to be and then it’s at night that the horror starts.”

Disney. I must admit, I’m more than a little smitten with the house that Mickey built – the broadly-drawn characters, the sense of fairy tale and the stark, high-contrast visual approach combining to create a safe cocoon from which to escape the harsher realities of life. Disney, is not, however, something I tend to associate with survival horror video games.

Inspiration can come from the unlikeliest of sources, however, as my one-hour chat with Endnight Games, creators of upcoming ‘survival horror simulator’ The Forest, has further demonstrated. With a full weather and day/night cycles, the ability to carve out a section of the forest as a base for yourself and an enemy that is both aggressive and empathic, Endnight’s goal is not to make your average horror game.

“Disney stuff was an inspiration for the daytime in the forest,” explains creative director Ben Falcone. “There are God-rays from the sky everywhere, butterflies and generally cute looking areas. One of the things I don’t like in horror games is when they’re all one tone, when they’re always just dark and depressing.
 

“Our vision was always a game in which half of the time it’s a place that you really want to be and then it’s at night that the horror starts. Our main goal is really just to do something completely different.”

As a general rule, The Forest has not been influenced by video game horror as much as it has by other mediums. Set in a large open-world forest with a coastline and significantly large system of caves, inspiration for the sense of tone and place came more from movies and novels in the survival genre.

“Horror films from the 70s, and the Italian films from the 80s, and the book I Am Legend are all pretty big influences,” Falcone continues. “We’ve all played horror games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, but we’ve not really taken anything from those games.”

Set up an environment that feels like something straight out of the original The Hills Have Eyes and let the player react to that as they see fit, that’s the premise.

As the only survivor of a plane crash, your first moments spent in The Forest are concerned with taking in your surroundings and looting whatever you can from the wreckage. While there are limited food resources amongst the carnage, your main goal quickly becomes staying alive. That means figuring out how to stay safe and warm at night and how to gather food for sustenance.

Forest_Fire_small

Falcone teases that there is an “ending” to the game if players are being smart enough about picking up the visual clues and investigating them, but that he thinks of the game as “more about you being in a situation. You’ve been in a plane crash and you find yourself in this horror world with a threat from cannibals, the story is just what happens as you experience the game and that world.”

While Endnight may not be taking cues from other horror games, the team has been influenced by the medium as a whole. That sense of unbounded exploration and the expectation that the player will seek to carve out a section of the world as their own is not all too dissimilar to the premises of Minecraft and Don’t Starve, two games that Falcone is quick to highlight.

“Really, [The Forest] started with my frustration about most of the things I’ve been playing for the last few years,” Falcone explains, “but Minecraft is something that’s a really big inspiration. We also see our game as similar to Don’t Starve, which is also kind of never ending.

“The excitement in Minecraft of being able to do whatever you want was something we wanted, but we wanted it in as photo-real an environment as we could by using cutting-edge PC technology to bring it to life and bring in some interesting AI threads.

“Obviously, we wanted to make something scary as well. We don’t actually find a lot of horror games very scary and we’re really aiming to make something truly terrifying.”

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7 Comments

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  1. YoungZer0

    That game, man. That game sounds like the one horror game I’ve always been waiting for. The first trailer lost me at the end, but the second one? The one scene where you – the hero – place a body part to make some sort of totem out of it and then burn it. Holy shit balls. Right there you knew this game was going to be something else! No normal human being who’s right in the head would do that sort of thing.

    You have a lot of videogames where you play the villain, but never something like this. Hell, most of them are cartoony in comparison.

    It feels like you’re some kind of animal, that would do unspeakable things just to survive and I love that premise. I was already planning to get this game, but now? Reading all those ideas they had, all those plans for the AI? Are you kidding me?! Day-fucking-one. Don’t care what it costs, I want it.

    The only thing that bothers me though: Do I buy it as early access, or do I wait till they are finished, even though I know that will be hard?

    #1 3 months ago
  2. YoungZer0

    Oh and btw. fantastic article, John. Keep it up!

    #2 3 months ago
  3. CyberMarco

    Oh look! An article split into two pages. How so…?

    VG24/7, the new IGN! -.-

    #3 3 months ago
  4. KineticCalvaria

    Wow, that sounds fucking awesome! Nice article John.

    But yeah… 2 pages, really?

    #4 3 months ago
  5. CrampedStyle101

    I’ve never played an earlyaccess game before but this sounds brilliant!

    If it can really bring together true SURVIVAL and true HORROR elements that would be just a great thing. I think its the world and the mutants in it that sounds best, the fact that youre working hard to survive in a cool sounding world and then you have to worry about the mutants as well. The best is that it seems like the mutants are doing the same, like there working hard to live in the world and also worrying about you.

    Great idea for a game. I really, really hope it turns out to be good.

    And yeah, like the other comments, very nice article John.

    #5 3 months ago
  6. Panthro

    Jesus I am so excited.

    #6 3 months ago
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    #7 3 months ago