The survival genre is as packed out as the battle royale genre, but that doesn't mean we aren't getting a steady flow of new games that task you with tying two sticks and a rock together to make an axe. Now Creepy Jar is putting their stamp on the survival space with Green Hell, which is the perfect title for this Early Access game since all you'll see is green jungles as you struggle to survive in this hellish nightmare.
Now we say nightmare in the nicest possible way because this will no doubt appeal to you masochists out there by offering an incredibly tough experience (we're struggling not to say 'the Dark Souls of survival games'). Even on easy, getting your act together and surviving in this world is going to be one hell of a mission, and that's mostly because there are a ton of different parameters to keep your eye on, all of which have the potential to be a pain in the backside if left unattended.
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of jungle life though we should talk about the tutorial, which is the brief opening to a story mode that will be coming at launch. This teaches you the basics while introducing you to the plot, as you've gone with your partner Mia to contact a lost tribe who can help with an unspecified task, however, things go wrong and you rush to attend a distress call you receive from Mia. That's about all we see of the story before we're then thrown into the sandbox survival mode.
Now that you don't have your damsel in distress to worry about, you can go at a more leisurely pace, except the trouble with survival mode when compared to story mode is that you've got no materials at your disposal. Heading out with just a backpack and a notebook like a very lost schoolchild you go around trying to learn, and what we mean by that is that you can find materials to learn new recipes and eventually get to grips with how to make tools.
If you've played other survival games, the basic crafting recipes won't be too unfamiliar, as you combine stones and sticks to create axes, which then allow you to harvest more things, chop down trees, build a shelter, and so on. It's obviously a learning process that means you'll die from stepping on a rattlesnake or falling off a cliff in your first few runs, but you learn each time you encounter danger and get a step closer to survival on the next run.
The trouble is that even after the tutorial passes there's a lot of different inputs, and when you access some items like food you have to hold the right mouse button to drag, select the 'eat' command, and then left click. Little things like that are a bit clunky and slow the game down a bit, making us wade through menus and hunt for commands that should be a touch simpler. Elsewhere though the UI works well, if indeed a little bit complex, giving visual representations of all the items on your backpack rather than simply a dropdown menu.
You'll need to learn fast to manage all the different gauges that'll slowly cause you grief over time, as your character needs water and food. That simple huh? Guess again, because you also need to bear in mind that food has its own levels of protein, energy, carbohydrates, and more, and even the water might not be clean. Oh, and you need to make sure you're not eating anything poisonous as well. It's like juggling plates then, and it's very easy to let one of them slide, at which point your sanity may drop and you'll start hearing very unnerving things...
In terms of presentation, Green Hell looks the part, showing us a lush jungle filled with varied wildlife and plenty of gorgeous views. The way the light pierces the canopy one second before lurching into thunderous rainfall the next is really immersive, and despite the fact we got lost in the verdant undergrowth, it didn't matter; it made us feel we were in the jungle. A little more work can be done to the voice acting, but like we've said this is just Early Access and there's still plenty to do.
It's a tough ride in the jungle, and just like prison, it's no fairytale world out there, but Green Hell is definitely a survival game that fans of the genre should consider checking out. It offers an intense challenge with a lot of stuff to manage, but considering the fact that they're going to be adding to this over time in Early Access and deliver a story mode that's looking good so far,
it'll be an interesting future for Green Hell.
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