Sons of the Forest review in progress: Perfect sandbox for horrific survival
Sons of the Forest does everything its predecessor did and more, providing an elevated survival horror experience that ticks all the right boxes, despite releasing in early access.
Due to the success of Endnight Games’ first survival horror, there has been a lot of expectation and hype surrounding Sons of the Forest. Survival horror games are a beloved genre, with classics such as Dead Space and Resident Evil.
Sons of the Forest takes a similar approach to its predecessor, as it’s a survival horror with aspects of sandbox-survival games like Minecraft and No Mans Sky, and it absolutely nails it.
Sons of the Forest: key details
- Developer: Endnight Games
- Price: $29.99 USD / £24.90 GBP
- Release Date: February 23, 2023
- Platforms: PC
A sandbox for survival horror
First off, the most impressive aspect of Sons of the Forest to me is its gameplay, which combines sandbox survival with horror in a seamless fashion, providing experiences that stick — especially when playing multiplayer with friends.
I found the crafting and material gathering extremely intuitive and satisfying. Building your shelter, whether it be with the Guide Book or off your own imagination, is very easy to learn and simple to carry out.
The game does not bombard you with over-encumbrance or any other annoying stats you have to baby; it keeps it simple with food, drink, and energy as the main bars you’ll need to worry about. This simple, effective survival gameplay allows the horror aspect of the game to come much more natural and less intrusive.
Mutants, cannibals, and other dangers on the island become part of the survival experience, rather than being an aspect tagged on to make gameplay more interesting. Of course, you’ll encounter horror aspects in dark, spooky caves, which is expected, but the more impressive nature of the game’s horror is during the down times.
You’ll be building your shelter, placing logs and then you’ll look up to see a cannibal perched on a rock, staring you down, while other members slowly surround you. It’s these experiences that offer unique gameplay moments which make Sons of the Forest so enjoyable, and terrifying.
The most jarring aspects of the game’s survival and crafting systems are a lack of obvious progression and janky inventory.
It would be nice to have an in-game system that gives players a general idea of how far their survival and crafting skills have developed throughout the playthrough. The inventory system can be slow and sometimes unintuitive, especially when you’re faced with mutants and cannibals and you need to get a weapon out quickly. However, this rarely detracts players from the overall incredible gameplay experience.
Depth enough for all
Sons of the Forest’s story is simple on the surface, giving players a bare-bones island-survival storyline in which players must find out what happened to the missing billionaire Edward Puffton and his family.
For players not interested in the details, Sons of the Forest doesn’t force anything upon the player. You can complete the game with basic knowledge of the game’s lore and story, or even mind your businesses, master survival and craft a beautiful shelter by the beach and live out your days on the island.
However, what Endnight Games have done is provided more than enough depth when it comes to the mysteries of the island and the Puffton family’s disappearance, giving players who want more, more.
From the first interaction with Virginia Puffton to the printed emails and images that can be found through the map that hint at the mysterious details, Sons of the Forest is a minefield of lore and detail for those who want it.
A beautifully rich island with issues
One of the most impressive aspects of Sons of the Forest is the island itself. The setting is rich with detail, as players will find various objects and points of interest while exploring the island’s coasts, forests, caves, and mountains.
Sons of the Forest’s caves are deep and complex, filled with horrors and incredibly useful items. However, despite the great detail and beautiful graphics, there are definitely some performance issues with the game.
Players will likely encounter bugs during their playthrough. I recently encountered a bug that prevented me from cooking anything on the fire, forcing me to reset to my last save. Players have also reported crashes, frame drops, and various other performance issues, which is common with a game still in early access.
These issues will likely be etched out with future updates leading up to the full release, but the positives far outweigh these performance issues.
Sons of the Forest verdict: 8/10
Overall, Sons of the Forest is an impressive sequel to Endnight Games’ first survival horror, the Forest, building on and improving every aspect of gameplay from its predecessor. The sandbox survival horror caters to all, providing difficulty levels for those looking for more of a challenge and those looking for a more peaceful experience.
Sons of the Forest’s story is also very accessible and does not force itself upon players looking to focus on the sandbox aspects of the game. Despite the slightly janky inventory system and performance issues, Sons of the Forest is an outstanding sequel and sets the bar extremely high for survival games in general.
Reviewed on PC
Image Credits: Endnight Games