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- A Survival Horror Staple
- Beautiful Visuals Matched with Horrifying Evil
- Surviving the Island Chopping One Tree at a Time
- Beats Bops and Screams: The Sounds of the Sons of the Forest
- Mystery and Horror Uncovering the Events of the Island
- Immersive User Interface Grounds you on the Island
- Sons of the Forest Rating
- Sons of the Forest Alternatives
- Key Points to Consider
A Survival Horror Staple
How do you create a sequel to a top-tier game that ticks all the boxes and capture the same magic as its predecessor? Take Bungie, for example. Bungie had big shoes to fill when creating the sequel for Microsoft’s flagship Xbox game, Halo.
Halo 2 kept the same kickass combat evolved formula and added fun features that enhanced its gameplay, like Xbox Live multiplayer and dual wielding in combat. I’m happy to report that Sons of the Forest does just that.
My experience with The Forest started in my friend’s bedroom. We both gathered around his PC and loaded a save inside a cave. The atmosphere was phenomenal, and the game was terrifyingly immersive. Years later, my friends and I built bases and unraveled the mystery of the Forest.
I watched the game evolve over the years, but eventually, I was burnt out from Early Access games. We waited for a sequel for years; I admit I was skeptical. I wasn’t willing to wait another decade of my life for the game to be complete!
Thankfully, this time, Endnight Games have outdone themselves with Sons of the Forest as the Survival Horror game, although in Early Access, Sons of the Forest feels like Endnight Games have front-loaded the game with content.
Still, if you’re looking for a polished game, then you’re out of luck, as Sons of the Forest contains a lot of bugs.
So without further ado, let’s get on with this Sons of the Forest review and open our emergency pack, ready our axe, chop some trees down and see what makes Sons of the Forest so frustratingly good.
Beautiful Visuals Matched with Horrifying Evil
Endnight Games designed Sons of the Forest to be as immersive as possible, and this would not be achievable without the game’s stunning visuals. Straight out of the bat, the player spawns on the island after their Helicopter crashes.
Still, instead of having one cutscene to introduce the player to the game, there are two other cutscenes that the player can see depending on where they crash on the island.
Sons of the Forest introduces a new season feature that comes along with new types of weather. I’ll talk more about this in the gameplay section. However, the weather variation gives the island variation and realism in how it reacts to different seasons.
Strong winds will blow trees together, the rain will create pools of water on the beaches, and the warmer seasons, like Spring and Summer, will ignite the island with life; butterflies can be seen flying from flower to flower, and deer, rabbits, squirrels, and other critters can be found living within the forest, making the environments appealing and authentic.
Sons of the Forest wouldn’t be a survival horror game without the grotesque mutants and creepy cannibals that roam the island, and wow, they’ve had a makeover.
Endnight Games have made a huge improvement upon the weird cow-like mutants and cannibal clones that were present in The Forest.
Endnight Games have introduced new types of cannibals and tribes that all have a distinct appearance, from tattoos, size, and the weapons they use.
I found that the updates to the cannibal’s appearance helped me distinguish between the different tribes and types and added variety that kept cannibal encounters exciting and scary.
Exploring caves in the Sons of the Forest is terrifying. The overhaul in graphics and lighting makes for a spooky backdrop for the mutants that live within.
The caves do not disappoint. My first experience was truly horrifying. My sanity quickly deteriorated without a substantial light source as I heard grotesque howling noises wailing around me. I popped a flare revealing the horrors of the grim mutants in the area.
The tension and fear that builds up in you while you light the darkness of the caves are unmatched. I found myself hugging walls and clearing anything in front of me so that I did not get jump-scared from behind.
The caves are interesting, too; they’re not just a single palette of color and assets thrown at you time again. Each cave has unique props and purpose in the game; it could lead you to part of a laboratory from where a cave has collapsed, eerie sci-fi, and supernatural structures such as the golden cave painting.
Surviving the Island Chopping One Tree at a Time
The player’s main goal in Sons of the Forest is to survive as many days as possible on the island while uncovering the mysterious disappearance of the Puffton family.
The story is set a couple of decades after the events of The Forest’s narrative. To survive in Sons of the Forest, the player must fight off cannibals and mutants and build shelters and bases to defend themselves from the ever-growing enemy presence on the island.
Sons of the Forest is a survival horror game, so you’ll have a lot of fun with the game if you like hunting for food and maintaining survival requirements. However, Sons of the Forest is lacking in some areas of survival mechanics. For example, players no longer have to maintain their temperature or clean the blood off their bodies to avoid infection.
The strength mechanic is a brilliant new feature that improves single-player gameplay by increasing the player’s strength for taking part in strenuous activities.
In The Forest, the player was punished for exerting themselves too much; now, the player at least benefit from working on their character. So Endnight Games won brownie points for allowing me to get my character jacked.
Meeting the basic survival requirements: hunger, thirst, and sleep, is relatively easy. It has no real challenge, as the island is full of food. Moreover, Sons of the Forest can easily be exploited by reloading into the map, as this respawns all items that you’ve scavenged, allowing you to collect a large supply of grenades.
Maintaining your character’s health is fairly easy if you can kill cannibals, as they have a high chance of dropping items called Skin Pouches that can be opened to obtain Meds and other crafting materials.
Crafting in Sons of the Forest remains mostly the same from The Forest. However, this time the player’s inventory has had an overhaul. Thanks to the player’s emergency pack, there is a lot of space to collect items. Locating items in your inventory can be fiddly, but it’s very immersive and satisfying to see your pack fill up with gear and resources.
The pack also features a light system along with a range of colors to cycle through, which is helpful when looking through your pack for items at night or in caves.
Endnight Games heard that you like backpacks, so they put a backpack inside your pack that acts as an immersive hot bar. It’s a great touch as it saves you time having to keep opening your pack to swap tools and weapons.
Crafting items in the Sons of the Forest remains the same as in The Forest; you have a crafting space to add and combine items in the center of your pack. However, this time all crafted items are given an animation each time they are crafted.
I love this! It makes the game feel so immersive, and while it’s difficult to believe, some of them, like the hilarious Time Bomb animation, give enough detail to make it feel grounded and give the player some feedback while crafting.
Sons of the Forest has two types of building mechanics that inexperienced survival players will struggle with. The Survival Guide book returns in Sons of the Forest, but you can switch between standard and free-form structures this time.
The building system works the same as The Forest. Simply browse the book for a structure you want, place it into the world, and fill in the blanks with the required resources.
On the other hand, the free-form building is very immersive and requires you to build structures one log, stick, etc, at a time to form a structure.
Depending on what structures you build, it can get complicated, but it’s the most immersive building system I’ve seen in a survival game, as every action has an animation.
Combat: Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight
The Sons of the Forest captures the same horror of the grotesque mutants and tribal cannibals of its predecessor.
This time around, their animations are more streamlined to make them seem more alive Sons of the Forest introduces a myriad of new mutants and cannibals to the game, and each enemy type requires a different approach in combat.
There are skittish and scrawny cannibals that, although they can be put down with a few swings of the Modern Axe, these guys are fast and will attempt to surround you and chip away with lunges until you’re dead.
The interactivity between the enemies and the environments in the Sons of the Forest gelled together well as I not only felt as though I were threatened by the mutants and cannibals but the island itself.
In the Sons of the Forest, Cannibals will climb trees to lunge at you, hide in bushes, and lunge from boulders dealing massive damage to the player.
Beats Bops and Screams: The Sounds of the Sons of the Forest
Now that I’ve got the smashing gameplay and beautiful visuals out of the way, I’ll move on to the polarising audio and music in the Sons of the Forest. Although the audio is a big improvement from the Forest, it doesn’t live up to the stunning visuals or fun gameplay.
There is a lack of music in the game; I understand that it’s a survival game, so its sides are more with a realistic approach rather than a cinematic one. However, the music that is present is uninspiring and generic. I’d love an all-out theme and score for the Sons of the Forest.
The main menu has visuals, cool imagery of the Helicopters on the way to the island, but the music lets it down, and the same goes for the opening cutscene.
However, the music heard on the numerous radios around the island is fantastic! I had a lot of fun listening to the tracks on the radio while defending off cannibals. Moreover, it was interesting to see cannibals react to the music. For example, in some cannibal camps, they can be seen dancing to music.
You can order Kelvin to pick up Radios, a nice touch that I praise Endnight Games for; however, I discovered a bad glitch where the Radio disappears after Kelvin drops it to point at a nearby cannibal, so I’d like to see this get fixed as I enjoy some of the tracks.
Casting the music aside, most of the sound effects in the game are high quality and realistic; listening to the cracking of wood as trees topple is super satisfying.
The Forest sounds alive as the wind rustles through the trees, and the crashing of waterfalls and racing flow of water through rivers add to the environment’s authenticity.
The sound effects of the cannibals still need a lot of improvement. They don’t seem like they are mixed right, being either too loud or trebly, and it’s really noticeable when the rest of the environments and animations are very immersive.
Mystery and Horror Uncovering the Events of the Island
I won’t spoil the story of Sons of the Forest. The fact of the matter is that while there is a complete story for the game, I can see the story’s details changing as the game gets more updates.
However, saying that, it’s great that players can complete the game’s story at release, as opposed to The Forest, where players had to wait for updates that introduced new parts of the story to the game.
Sons of the Forest has a much more interesting and focused story than its predecessor. In The Forest, the player and their child (Timmy) went to the island after their plane crashed.
In Sons of the Forest, you are sent to the island as part of a private military group owned by Edward Puffton, the billionaire the player is tasked with finding along with his wife, Barbara Puffton, and their daughter Virginia Puffton.
You may recognize Virginia Puffton as the three-armed and legged mutant that can be befriended in the game. Her mutations are Edwards’s doing, but I won’t reveal more of the story here.
The narrative not only improves the single-player experience by making it easier to survive but also ties in the narrative into the gameplay, bolstering the Sons of the Forest story presence.
This is much better than its predecessor, as the GPS gives just enough direction to point the player in the right direction. I’ll finish by saying that it was fun to discover what happened to the survivors of the other crashed helicopter teams.
Playing The Forest in Co-op, we assume that other plane crash survivors accompany the player; however, it feels like a bolt-on as they don’t have a purpose like the main character, trying to find Timmy.
In the Sons of the Forest, you are accompanied by a crash survivor with the same mission as you called Kelvin.
He is badly wounded in the crash and left deaf, don’t expect Kelvin to make any decisions in the game or narrative, as he is basically a slave for the player to order about collecting resources and building structures.
Kelvin’s AI is very dodgy, and he is an absolute idiot; it makes sense that any other players in co-op would be working towards the same goal as Kelvin. However, I think deafening Kelvin was a way to save money on a voice actor, as the game is lacking in this area.
Immersive User Interface Grounds you on the Island
Sons of the Forest Takes The Forest’s immersion, turns it to ten, and balances it between extreme immersion and clunky design. Sons of the Forest pulled me into the survivor’s shoes, with the attention to detail that blows triple games out of the water with animations for all crafting and most structures.
Although standard buildings still keep The Forest shadow structure building system. The free-form building system is one of the most immersive base-building systems of any survival game I’ve played.
Free-form building requires the player to build the structure piece by piece; by following a design within the Survival Guide book for example, if I wanted to build a crude tent, I’d equip Tarp from my inventory and place it on the ground.
Next, I would equip sticks and place them at every four corners of the tent. I could place one stick to hold up the tent or 2, 3, or 4. As you can imagine, a tent held up by sticks doesn’t sound very sturdy and can be broken if a player walks on top of it.
The more complicated you make your structures, the longer it will take to put them together due to all the animations, from chipping off the tops of the logs to securing a tarp with sticks. This is a basic example, but building a rope bridge or manor house will be a lot more difficult.
Most of the in-game UI is accessed through your inventory, such as crafting and looking through pieces of evidence that you find on the island.
The rest of the game’s settings are in the game menu. The main menu is nothing special, having your typical game menus: singleplayer, Multiplayer, Options, etc. It’s all straightforward,
The beauty of the Sons of the Forest is that it’s a sandbox survival horror game meaning that players can compete against their high score to survive as many days as they can alone or with friends.
Playing in the coop significantly differs from a single-player as you’ll come across more Cannibals and Mutants on the surface. Then the player can play the Sons of the Forest on Hard difficulty if they want a real challenge.
Otherwise, they can customize various parameters such as respawn rates, enemy stats, and survival settings depending on where your helicopter crashes affect what key items you may acquire first or where you decide to build your base.
Sons of the Forest Rating
Sons of the Forest It’s not perfect, but it’s damn close. The many glitches, lack of voice actors, and sound effects for cannibals stop the game from hitting the ten mark.
On top of that, the game is in Early Access, so it’s impossible to know where the game will end up once Endnight Games have completed it. It took the studio four years for The Forest to leave Early Access.
Endnight Games have had a ton of experience building The Forest, which shows in the sequel. There are so many quality-of-life improvements, such as the expanded inventory, AI companions, and new free-form building system.
Sons of the Forest Alternatives
- The Long Dark
- Subnautica: Below Zero
- Green Hell
- The Forest
Key Points to Consider
- Intricate building system that will appeal to veteran survival/sandbox players, paired with a simple building system to cater to players that want an explorative and narrative-driven experience.
- The Forest has never had such a varied weapon selection until now; players have more firearm options, such as the 9mm Pistol, Shotgun, and Revolver.
- Lots of new enemies to fight that offer varying gameplay in combat.
- Beautiful and immersive environments to explore.
- Singleplayer is now much more accessible thanks to the Kelvin and Virginia companions.
- Sons of the Forest is an Early Access title. While it’s less buggy than The Forest, it has some infuriating bugs, such as canceling healing items and not loading in environments around the player.
- The friendly A.I., especially Kelvin, is brain-dead and will walk on fire and walk into falling trees. Chop trees onto the player, and giving Kelvin orders is clunky as he does not always stick to his task.
- Resources and items will respawn every time the player loads their save, making it easy to acquire a large supply of items. The Forest also had this balance problem.
Question: Does Opening your Inventory in Sons of the Forest Pause the Game?
Answer: Opening your single-player inventory will pause the game, allowing you to craft items and equip weapons even if a mutant is right next to you.
However, your stats do not pause, allowing you to take Meds and wait in your inventory to heal your character. Opening your inventory in multiplayer will not pause the game.
Question: How Many Players Can Join a Server in Sons of the Forest?
Answer: Players can join or host lobbies in Sons of the Forest with a max of eight players per server. You cannot use single-player saves to host a multiplayer game; moreover, in multiplayer, players must individually save their games to save their inventory on a server.
Finally, to skip a night by sleeping, all players on the server must activate sleep at a shelter at the same time.
Question: What is the Cross Used For in Sons of the Forest?
Answer: The player can find two crosses in the game in the Bunker cave with the Maintanience Keycard and within the cave entrance at the closest cave next to the forest helicopter crash. The Cross can be used to kill and repel demons found in caves towards the end of the game.
To piece this review together, I spent 18 hours in Sons of the Forest in both single-player and multiplayer in my time spent in Sons of the Forest; I befriended Virginia Puffton and acquired key items and tools such as the Rope Gun, Modern Axe, 9mm Pistol, and experienced both Normal and Hard difficulties.
I gotta say, one thing I love about this game is how many graphical settings you can tweak to get the most out of your PC. I’m running a GTX1070, 16GB of RAM, and an I7 6700K Processor, and after some tinkering, the game was running smooth like butter and looked gorgeous!
But, I’ll be real with you, I did encounter frame drops and stutters that made me feel like my rig was struggling to keep up.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw how smoothly Sons of the Forest was running on my trusty laptop. I mean, this old rust bucket has an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H with Radeon Graphics and only 8GB of RAM, but it’s a trooper!
With a bit of tweaking, I got the game running at a solid 50FPS and even 60FPS in the caves, and the best part? The game still looked absolutely stunning!