Sons of the Forest is a serene walking simulator with pretty landscapes
As the office’s resident fan of walking simulators, I jumped at the chance to try out Alice Bee’s latest creation, in which players explore a forest. A stroll through the forest is always something I’m up for. Being a bit of a genre purist, I was worried that Sons of the Forest would just be another of those “walking sims” that are really just excuses to force you to listen to a Radio 4 dramatic monologue. Thankfully not, it’s just a pretty walking simulator where you can explore an island full of exotic animals. Take a look at this video of some of the sights I’ve seen on my tranquil walks.
Keep an eye out for the beautiful birds, rabbits, and other animals I spotted on my strolls, but don’t expect to see any mutants. I have no idea what possessed me to make such a remark. What makes you think there will be mutants? It’s Friday, right?
While the game loaded, I went to make some tea, and now that I’m done, I’m thrilled to find myself on the banks of a cold mountain stream. There’s a nice crunch under my feet as I walk on the snow that lines the banks (and not only do I leave trails in the snow, I can see my legs too). As rainbows dance on the surface of the water and salmon swim lazily below, I can’t take my eyes off the scene. I’m a natural at just floating along, so that’s what I do.
The world is lovely and bustling with life. When I go fishing, I like to follow the streams as they meander through the woods and eventually join together to form rivers, where I can see the salmon make their spectacular leaps up the falls. I go where the rabbits go. I’m surrounded by the chirping and flitting of birds whose songs I can’t identify, and which take off at my approach if they’re startled. I sit by a lake and watch as ducks land. In the distance, I see a few hawks. When I’m alone, I go in search of deer. As night falls in the forest, I look up to see that the sun is emerging from behind a thick layer of clouds. I watch as ivy winds its way up the trees in the forest and into the open glades and meadows beyond. Flowers and fruit appear before me. The thick undergrowth gives way under my feet as I walk through it, rustling and shaking as other animals do the same. My boots sink into squishy mud, and twigs crackle under their weight. What a joy it is to explore these tranquil woods. Except I think a squirrel bit my finger at one point (as you can see in the video).
Where exactly it goes, I can’t say. On multiple occasions, I’ve seen the sun go down as the game grew hopelessly dark. Based on the sounds of approaching footsteps, it seems you are still able to move around, but I still can’t see a thing. Do we really think this is our final moment? This may be the overbearing message from the family I’ve been expecting. Perhaps our sons and daughters carry on a part of who we are after we are gone and the world no longer needs us to exist to experience it. A place to go that isn’t us? Continuity that we can’t see? In all honesty, I have no idea. I’m content to exit the game at this point and start a new walk the next day.
The more of this island I get to know, the more paths I want to wander down, the deeper I want to go into that forest, and the better swimming spots I want to discover. I’ve seen some elusive deer through the trees, so I can’t wait to learn more about the local wildlife.
Stunning island populated by cannibals and little else at this point; that’s how we described Ollie’s Sons of the Forest in our early access review last week. Unfortunately, I’m too old for Gen Z humour.
I highly recommend the classic walking simulator Proteus [full disclosure: made by a friend] if you’re looking for another pleasant stroll to your figurative demise. Tonight You Die (2015), set in a Brutalist mansion, offers the chance to literally die if you’re feeling daring.