Another first in reviews for me, this time I’m reviewing a survival game. My friends are really into this genre, but the only one I found myself enjoying was Don’t Starve Together. But, I figured I’d try to expand my horizons with today’s game: Green Hell. It’s a survival game where your character (and his love interest communicating via walkie talkie) explore a mysterious island with dangerous locals and animals alike. You have to manage several meters including your health, macronutrients, water, and weapons to fight through the wild creatures and rough terrain. The tutorial is very robust with some great voice acting and characterization to help with world-building and explain the character’s purpose on the island. There’s still an innate creepiness to the game and there’s a lot of information that is withheld from you at the start, thanks to that you slowly fend off increasing threats to your sanity and life. There is a lot to explore, which is all broken and organized in your field manual and guide. Inventory management and crafting is a tad finicky at first, but the game holds your hand in the first hour or so to help you get your bearings.
I didn’t get to try it, but I will mention that there is online co-op, and reception seems to be pretty positive on it. I mainly focused on the single player story mode. I wasn’t able to get through it fully, but I got the gist of it, and I think you will be able to tell pretty quickly if you’re into the game or not. I’ll try to be as descriptive as possible based on what I experienced moment to moment. So you will start off with limited knowledge of recipes and a mostly naked backpack with some instructions. You often communicate to a love interest/survival expert/indigenous people researcher who, early on, is lost on a peace mission to one of the native islander tribes. In this way, the fear of the unknown, and the high intensity fight for your life, paint what may otherwise look like a standard survival game with layers of psychological horror. You even need to manage a sanity meter as just one of the many aspects you need to juggle alongside your basic human needs and well-being.
The tutorial helps give you a good helping hand early on and points you in the right direction, but Green Hell is not afraid of leaving you to struggle in the wilds. There are fewer respites breaking up the heavy air of tension as you constantly tend to yourself, upgrade your inventory, and measure up the myriad of mysterious enemies. There are four difficulty settings (including a peaceful mode) that can help you learn the ropes if you feel like you don’t want to be thrown off into the deep end. There is a fair amount of trial and error as you figure out the requirements to tackle certain obstacles, enemies, or the islanders themselves. I like the specificity with the flora and fauna, and how you start to figure out how certain species factor into your nutrition and item recipes.
Crafting is a bit unintuitive at first as you pick up the radial menus and drag-and-drop materials list, but the tutorial does hold your hand through the process to at least get started on the basics. The act of discovery is always interesting, and learning what resources to prioritize and what to have handy is very enriching. Things like venomous bites or eating the wrong item can have catastrophic game-ending results, so I can see it being a very frustrating realization if it ruins the otherwise solid pacing. I do enjoy the aspect of setting up camp, seeing how far out you can push through the day, all while managing your resources.
Combat is interesting, as learning enemy weak spots, lining up your attacks, and minding your environment are always on your mind. There are some dangerous game like jaguars, but also areas to fish or “prey” like armadillos or snakes. Learning to cook your food properly, manage campfires, and collecting material for rope/medicine also add wrinkles to what is often taken for granted in these sorts of games. Weapons are very primitive in nature, with Bows being the closest thing to a “gun” or ranged weapon of any kind. In this way, the sense of desperation and growth feels that much more earned as you can’t just mow through nature with technology. Meeting the natives is the most interesting aspect, as there are quests that allow you to integrate with their tribe and earn their trust, which also happens to lead to the best ending for the game. This aspect was relatively newly iterated upon, but it seems very engaging for the little I completed of the spirit journey.
I generally don’t play games like Rust or ARK, but this one caught my attention with the subtler details towards realism, the grander sense of purpose, and the atmospheric world-building. I liked the fact that while you can play it as an open world sandbox like most games of the genre, this story mode presented challenges and goals in a way that felt very natural and rewarding. It may not be for the faint of heart, but I’d recommend it as a cheaper option to consider among the other Survival games. All in all, I enjoyed my time with Green Hell, but I don’t think I’ve scratched the surface when it comes to the wealth or depth of the mechanics at play. This is going to be one of those pretty niche games that takes a guide or hours of play to truly master, and I don’t think it’ll take you long to know if you’re into that sort of thing or not.
Provided reviewer copy of game.
hellfirebam has awarded Green Hell the Indie Gamer Seal of Approval