Written by sPINDRAFT 3/7/2014
The landscape is so awesome in this game, in fact it is the game, the dark and cursed wood. Created in CryENGINE3 by an IndieDB user from Russia who goes by the name KPy30 ‘The Cursed Forest’ is a phenominal effort in landscape mood. There was never a moment when I did not feel absolutely lost even though I had fairly clear tracts on which to navigate.
Aside from a few chirping birds and an inky black ghostly figure with white eyes that you surely do not want to tangle with there is nothing else here, just you and the forest. Meandering through this forest are small jeep tracks which serve to guide you along but they do little to appeal to your sense of security because save for a welcome, although unpopulated, campfire they never lead anywhere that offers any lasting hope of either security or an end to this unbelievably spooky hike.
The scenery changes with subtle ease as you navigate this claustrophobic creation of botany. You move through a stark forest with heavy undergrowth and large rock outcroppings that eventually leads down to a more lowland type of forest with a small cabin (Oy yeah, there are some buildings scattered around) and a campfire. Unless you understand Siberian Russian (or have a working translated version) you will most likely not have a single clue in hell to what the note in the cabin says, or the intro story for that matter, so just forget about the story (I’m sure it is good) and enjoy the real strength of this game; the ability to give you goosebumps. It has been some time since I played a game that gave me pause as I looked down the trail ahead and thought, you know, I really don’t want to go in there.
You will experience swamps, lowland forests, one area that has the feel of a dry hardwood spread, sections with dead under limbs and old growth that has fallen to the ground and then there are the odd structures that invite exploration. I walked up to one little shed with a locked door and my curiosity led me around to an open window and I stood looking in for a momment to see if there was anything of importance inside. Suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, the black , inky thing blasted into my vision and nearly gave me a coronary.
The black, inky thing, yes. You never really get an all out look at this creature, there is always something a little vague about it everytime you encounter its not so hospitable prescence. It is refreshing to see an enemy in game that has a little bit of chararacter and originality. The closest I’ve ever seen in any game I have played to what this creature looks like is the black bog creatures in ‘The Secret World’ that grab you and bring you closer to whip your ass. Here the black thing seems to enjoy playing cat and mouse with you but if it ever does attack you’re done, end of story.
Back to the story deal, you are lost in the forest for some reason I do not yet know and you begin to find the bones of a dismembered body. You must collect these bones as well as some strange ritualistic stones in order to progress through the game. At times you will hear what sounds like crying or a tortured soul or something and it is this trapped spirit that is actually the focus of the story, thats right kiddos, you have to free the spirit from the evil, cursed forest. You will have to investigate every corner of the forest and the buildings you find there in order to collect all that you need to unlock the next section of forest, sometimes Inky just screws with you, other times you must run for your life. One time, in an especially dark section of trail as you cross through what feels like a small valley or gully, Inky sets up on the trail in front of you and you will have to be a bit brave to solve the issue of winning this little standoff.
The game play is smooth, I had no issues with mouse control or camera angles. Audio is at a premium but I can’t think of any reason why you need a bunch of worked up sound in a setting that is quite capable of running the show on its own. The biggest issue is getting it downlaoded as you must register with Crytek first (free) then you can download the main game. It appears that since I started this article the download/translation patch issue has been fixed and there is now one downlaod (instead of three). I played the old download so did not have translation (could not read the notes or intro) and had to download the patch which I do not know if it even worked correctly. Hopefully you all will be blessed with a smoother download experience and enjoy all of the perks that are coded into ‘The Cursed Forest’.
As it is, the version I played was well done, looked great (the glowing red was a little weird but not sure if you’d ever find a damn thing in here without it) and kept me hooked. I must admit that I had to give it a couple of goes at first to begin to truly enjoy what was being offered but after playing so many horror games with stale approaches it took a minute for ‘The Cursed Forest’ to completely open my eyes. It is well worth the play, offering a fair amount of goosebump action, some problem solving and a sense of accomplishment as you gain each new section of the forest.
HAG Score - 8.9