The new title from Endnight Games can boast record numbers and is highly praised by fans. We have put the game through its paces and are back with our Sons Of The Forest review of the Early Access version.
It has been Steam’s #1 most-wanted game for quite some time. On February 23rd, the time had come, and the survival open-world and successor of “The Forest” was unleashed on the fan base. However, there are mixed feelings underlying the colossal hype.
At first glance, Sons of The Forest seems to be an absolute success, especially in commercial terms. After only 24 hours, the Early Access title sold over two million copies. However, the user reviews on Steam are somewhat divergent. They were “very positive”; 81% of Steam’s almost 57,000 reviews have given the game a thumbs-up at the time of writing. However, players also point out the shortcomings of the successor. We have also tested the game and now formed our own opinion. If you don’t know the game yet, we recommend you watch the relatively new multiplayer trailer below.
Sons Of The Forest lets you dive even deeper into survival horror
Right at the beginning of our Sons Of The Forest review, we would like to talk about the world of the new Early Access survival game. We encounter a beautiful, promising landscape that is supposed to be four times larger than in The Forest. From the start, we are fascinated by the stunningly rendered and vibrant environment, which has clearly improved in realism and immersion. We started the game twice, once in summer and once in winter. Each time the helicopter crash occurred in a different location, which significantly increases the replay value. Besides, the game offers us excellent options before the launch. Here you can choose between peaceful, normal, hard difficulty, or even custom settings. In individual games, you can determine in which season you start, how many animals there are, how strong the opponents will be, and some other aspects.
The spirit of discovery reignited
We have a lot of new things to do and also to learn. We can discover new types of cave systems, fight beasts, and get great rewards, such as unique tools. There is also a mysterious story to uncover with all sorts of surprises.
While working on our Sons Of The Forest review, we especially noticed that we have much more creative freedom than in the predecessor. The building system has been revised, and we can now create more complex structures. Our survival booklet remains the basis, but most structures can be expanded freely. The small building animations also make the construction process improve in realism. However, the handling has become more complicated, and building the base takes much longer. Even though it should be easy for die-hard survival veterans, inexperienced players might miss more explicit on-screen instructions. Just understanding how to build a campfire could cause some frustration here. In the manner of classical games, patience and trial and error are required here and there.
Companions and improved AI
While building our base, our new deaf AI companion Kelvin proves extremely useful. We give him various commands via our notepad, such as collecting wood, building a fire, or finishing a structure. He behaves pretty reliably and completes his tasks quickly. However, there is a reason why we can also give him the “hide” command because the former infantryman is no longer able to fight properly. With a bit of practice, Kelvin can be used quite efficiently, and many repetitive jobs, such as cutting down trees, etc., are done by him. However, in the game’s current state, the tasks we give him must be chosen wisely. For example, if you instruct him to finish the tree house, it can happen that when the resource log runs out, he cuts down the tree where the house blueprint is planned.
Support at the firearms
What Kelvin lacks, the companion Virginia, however, compensates for. Although she doesn’t let us order her around, she is all the more talented at handling firearms. Since the enemies in Sons Of The Forest are sometimes powerful (depending on your chosen difficulty level), and some enemies can take you down with one attack, it’s good to know she’s by your side. Speaking of Enemies.
More natural enemies
The enemy AI has been completely reworked and is supposed to act much more intelligently in the new part – and yes, we can feel that. During fights, different emotional states like anger, fear, sadness, or fatigue can be detected in the cannibals. This gives us the feeling that we are dealing with a humanoid, multi-layered being. The additional intelligence also causes the cannibals sometimes to use ziplines to invade our base. Nonetheless, the movement patterns of the enemies are learned relatively quickly. The pathfinding also tore us out of the immersion now and then. Here we will see if there are any significant changes in the further development process, but with Unreal Engine 5 as a basis, this can certainly not be ruled out.
The story is still a bit immature and thin
Like its predecessor, the game offers a story with two different endings. We crash on an island full of cannibals in search of a billionaire. This overarching goal is addressed in the opening sequence but doesn’t reappear much in the rest of the game, leaving us narratively pretty much alone. Even if the story is optional, the incentive to follow it could be increased. To this end, it should be established better to increase motivation further and create a more dramaturgical drop height in case of failure. Some locations to be discovered are just brimming with what feels like exuberant lore. Clever players will undoubtedly make their own rhymes out of it, but a bit more substance wouldn’t hurt.
The technical state of the game
Most of the game feels great, and also, we have rarely been in such a convincing forest, which you almost think you can smell. Here, the choice of UE5 as the underlying game engine was exactly the right one, which will probably give us many improvements and even more immersion in the future. What still comes up short in our eyes is the game’s physics. For example, climbing the steepest mountain slopes while running is possible, and some objects behave strangely.
There are also a few bugs here and there, as well as possible exploits. For example,you duplicate materials like logs with a particular construction method. Of course, we didn’t use this to add a defensive wall to our base generously. Kappa.
Our Verdict on Sons Of The Forest (Early Access)
Sons Of The Forest is already a very successful and worthy new installment with some weaknesses. But it made a remarkably bug-free and stable impression on us overall. In addition, the title offers both graphically and mechanically strong improvements. This raises the survival horror and immersion to a new level.
But at this point, it must be emphasized again: The basis for our Sons Of The Forest review is the Early Access version. The game is, therefore, still in development, and this can be considered more or less a preview. But we can be confident that the developers from Endnight Games will take the constructive criticism to heart (like they always did in the past). We are certain that this will make the excellent title an even more rounded experience.
From our side, a clear recommendation to buy.
What impression did you get from Sons Of The Forest? Leave us a comment below.