Connect with us

Reviews

Green Hell – Early Access Preview

Mason Sylvia

Published

on

As I navigated the sweltering Amazonian rainforest in a desperate search for food and crafting materials, I felt an overwhelming sense of paranoia and dread. Even though a family of macaw parrots flew overhead, squawking merrily as they glided through the trees, down on solid ground, things were less than blissful. I maneuvered through a clearing, came across a goliath bird-eating spider, and screamed like a banshee, leapt out of my chair, and moved away from my computer. I watched from the other side of the room as it made its way past and I resumed control of the game, turning to run in the opposite direction. I managed to find some coconuts and harvested them, with plans to use the shells to collect water. It wasn’t until I’d cut down a couple of trees and collected sticks that I’d heard the most heinous tribal sound and found myself being attacked by half-naked savages sporting some sort of body paint. I ran as fast as I could through the dense foliage, hearing their battle cries as they chased after me. Just when I thought I’d escaped, I ran right off of a cliff and fell to my death. I survived two days.

Green Hell, developed in Poland by indie studio Creepy Jar, is essentially a hyper-realistic survival experience set in the lush, gorgeous, and clearly dangerous Amazon rainforest. Even though early access survival games is a niche more commonplace than battle royale, what sets Green Hell apart from its cousins is its in-depth features surrounding the theme of survival; these elements aren’t seen in many games with such a level of finesse and brilliant execution. Green Hell focuses on true survival, on a much deeper level than the surface point of gathering food and supplies and fending off hostile AI in the wilderness. Within the first thirty minutes, I was utterly hooked, and the presentation is outstanding, especially for an early access title in its beginning stages. It’s worth mentioning that Creepy Jar is made up of some former Techland employees (Dying Light, Dead Island) so the level of quality should come as no surprise, but I went into Green Hell not really knowing what to expect. In lieu of this, I was not disappointed at all.

Green Hell is built upon the foundation of your typical open-world survival experience, where there isn’t much of an overarching endgame other than the challenge of surviving as long as possible and crafting your own narrative out of the experience. It’s an ambitious undertaking that’s already managed to launch on the right foot, when most people expected a bare-bones experience. The first twenty to thirty minutes introduces players to the game’s story mode, doubling as a tutorial that guides you through the fundamentals of survival. We are introduced to the player character, Jake, and his wife or love interest, Mia. While the overall plot of the story remains slightly mysterious, the basis put together from dialogue and context clues suggest that the timeline of Green Hell is not the couple’s first trip to the area. It is implied that the two have traveled to the area previously and made friends with the Yabahuaca tribe, an indigenous people living in isolation out of fear of the modern world. It would seem that Jake published a novel or work of text that revealed the existence of the Yabahuaca tribe and caught the attention of the media and the World Health Alliance, who traveled to the region to find and make contact with the Yabahuaca, much to the tribe’s displeasure.

It appears that Jake and Mia have returned, hoping to make peace with the tribe and seek their assistance for some unknown event in the modern world. However, Mia’s attempt to reach out the tribe was futile, as the tutorial ends with Mia radioing Jake, frantically begging for help. It is then that Green Hell invites you to experience its Survival Mode, which drops you into the middle of the rainforest with nothing except the knowledge you’ve gained in the tutorial.

Green Hell tasks players with scavenging for supplies and food using natural resources available in the rainforest and using them to craft and collect equipment that will extend your survival. It’s wise to spend time gathering edible and fundamental items such as sticks, rocks, and dry leaves, which will allow the player to create essential necessities such as a fire to cook food and basic weapons and tools. With minimal knowledge on Jake’s behalf, a lot of the learning curve comes from experimenting and trial and error. It might be a tedious process for the impatient, but experimentation is where I found some of the most enjoyment in my humble beginnings. You won’t need to remember the materials necessary for previously crafted items, as Jake’s journal will unlock codex entries as you progress through the game and make discoveries — a remarkably useful feature.

It’s more than just crafting weapons and hunting for food, however. You’ll also need to gather flora and learn their elements and how they can be used. You’ll need medicinal and healing items and conducting experiments with greens and flowers found in the wilderness will yield an understanding of different properties. Your potential injuries won’t just be sustained from falling and getting beaten up by the earth; there are true and dangerous threats lurking in the rainforest, ranging from leeches and worms to snakes and spiders, to even jaguars and hostile island natives. The Yabahuaca is not the only native tribe in the wilderness — they’re apparently one of eighty lost tribes — and not all of them are, at the very least, neutral; the mysterious painted warriors are skilled hunters and stalkers, and sometimes, you won’t see or hear them until it’s too late. In Green Hell, few things are as terrifying as exploring the Amazon and wandering into the wrong area only to find yourself shot with an arrow from an unknown location and being ambushed. However, due to numerous reports of issues with balance, the hostile natives have been patched out with the latest update until a fix can be issued.

The spotlight shines on the game’s sanity element, something rarely seen in video game development; being isolated in a fear-inducing atmosphere with danger lurking around every corner would easily take a toll on one’s mental health. Despite being somewhat broken in its current state, the overall element and execution of the player character’s sanity is absolutely fascinating; with low sanity, Jake begins to experience hallucinations of both visual and auditory variety, which can be just as dangerous as actual physical threats in the rainforest. In addition, the ability to inspect your body for ailments is disturbingly fitting in the theme of Green Hell. While venturing through the forest, it’s possible — and likely — that you will come into contact with some undesirable irritations; wounds, bites, lacerations, the works, and they all require medical attention before they get worse and, potentially, kill you. Learning the properties of flora and other items will allow you to combine the appropriate ingredients to tend to the afflicted area and allow it to heal over time. Let me tell you, nothing had made me more squeamish than seeing wrigling worms sticking out of Jake’s leg.

Green Hell is an incredibly immersive experience and Creepy Jar have done an outstanding job of inspiring the feelings of truly being in the Amazon rainforest and surviving its wilderness. With jaw-dropping levels of detail in textures and atmosphere, visual effects, auditory cues, and sound effects, I actually felt like I was in Jake’s shoes, navigating the trials and tribulations with him. As a matter of fact, Green Hell would make for one killer virtual reality experience; I’d never play it in VR because I’d suffer a massive panic attack, but it’s really got a phenomenal platform to build upon and I can’t see virtual reality being out of the question. Even though Green Hell is an early access title, the level of polish and depth that it currently has, I could fully endorse it as a full game with a $60 price tag; given Creepy Jar’s dedication to listen to feedback and evolve the experience, taking it to higher levels, I can’t imagine the level of depth it’ll have when it leaves early access and launches fully. Either way, in its current state, it is absolutely well worth the price of admission and I can’t recommend it enough.

Green Hell is currently available on Steam in Early Access for $19.99.


Please note that Green Hell is currently in Early Access and this review reflects its current Early Access state. As such, we will not be providing a final review score until Green Hell leaves Early Access and launches as a full game.

 

Video game enthusiast, James Bond aficionado, Tomb Raider expert, and lover of Beefeater gin. I'm a creature of habit and I'm either found buried in a book or working through my video game backlog when I'm not working my accounting specialist day job.

Advertisement

Reviews

Trending

Copyright © 2017 NerdBite