The Forest is a solid castaway game. But it’s not a real survival game. True survival is hardcore man-against-nature. Even in war, the real battle is feeding your stomach and keeping your feet dry and your body hydrated. Man-eating natives aside, how difficult is the Forest? It’s about trial and error MacGyver stuff. A beach is covered with washed-up luggage to scavenge from.
And there’s food. Tons of it. The Forest is infested with food. Edible mushrooms in the forest. Slow-moving deer and tons of turtles and raccoons and seagulls you can kill with a tomahawk. Still fun open-world stuff, but not really Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, or Tom Hanks’ castaway survival action.
So then there’s Stranded Deep, out this month on Steam. Like The Forest, there’s a plane crash and an island. But the game’s got real man-vs-nature to be had. You need to keep your health up and watch your hunger factor. There’s some lame dodge-a-shark antics, but the first-person game’s more about meeting your basic needs like building shelter and finding food. Check out the trailer. You have to hunt crab with a spear. And the island is tiny and so you have to face your nemesis, the shark, to get what you need from the ocean. That’s hard-core.
The world is also procedurally-generated, which seems more like a marketing gimmick than a bona-fide factor for replayability. Different islands should offer up different resources and opportunities, but a tropical deserted island can’t be all that different from one another even if the shape is a bit different.
One thing missing is your mental-health meter. Not going crazy has to be a top survival challenge. Still, Stranded Deep seems to be the closest castaway simulation. Worth checking out.