Good Horror Games make you feel like you’re there. Alien: Isolation is slow and atmospheric. The Last Of Us is loud, brutal and grounded. And now The Forest, from Endnight Games, is taking tangible horror in a new direction.

Creative director Ben Falcone explains how The Forest, is designed to submerge you in horror. “Our goal is to put people in a situation,” says Falcone. “Picture yourself crash landed. Your son’s been kidnapped [and] pale naked guys are trying to kill you. We want to capture that sense of being hunted. We give you enough tools so you can make some decisions, and come up with ideas on how to survive, but we’ve tried to re-think each element of a survival game, and find unique solutions.


“Take our inventory system. Most survival games have a 2D inventory system, but we wanted to make ours 3D, so we literally took a back pack and emptied it onto our floor, then placed a some items around and tried to see what would make the most sense in real life. We used this approach for almost all the elements in the game, trying to work out the most realistic feeling and also the least annoying way to get information across to players.”
“PICTURE YOURSELF CRASH LANDED. YOUR SON’S BEEN KIDNAPPED AND NAKED GUYS ARE TRYING TO KILL YOU”
Realism isn’t all The Forest is shooting for. Its crafting system for instance, which allows you to chop down trees, collect stones and sticks, and cook food, is very accessible, allowing you to get stuck into the action right from the get go. Likewise, your enemies are mutated cannibals, natives of the eponymous forest. Disfigured, animalistic and out to get you, they’ve more in common with zombies than any human enemy. But still, Endnight wants to make them believably frightening.

“We wanted them to seem alive,” says Falcone, “and also multi-dimensional. In most games, enemies will just blindly run at you and die. We wanted enemies that would sometimes seem scared and would flee, and other times would not attack and just stalk you or watch from the trees. They’re an intelligent foe that’s unpredictable, and curious of the player, but still deadly. It’s an ongoing process but we’re always trying to give them interesting behaviours so they aren’t always about just attacking the player directly.”

The Forest’s enemies will typically come out at night, leaving you free to explore the landscape during the day and pillage it for supplies, which feels very familiar to the colossal survival giant that is Minecraft.  There are no objective markers or quests, either, which gives players the opportunity to engross themselves in The Forest’s world a decision that lets Endnight challenge and change how horror games are structured.

“It came from a growing frustration with all modern videogames,” concludes Falcone. “I felt like everything I was playing had some NPC yelling at me to do something. I kept playing games and literally announcing to the room ‘I’m done. I’m35. I don’t need someone yelling at me what to do all the time.’ However, developing a game with no markers or quests has been really hard. It’s taken a long time so far, and has meant creating lots of systems to tie all the elements together. But that’s also satisfying for us, as developers. What we’re trying to capture is a new take on how a survival horror game could work. It’s still in progress, but we’re discovering a lot as wego.”