Force of Nature Review

With the state of the world as it is right now, many of us are considering getting washed up on a lonesome island somewhere – to eke out the rest of our days as an autonomous survivor on the beach. Force of Nature is a game about survival on said island, with a sense of tranquillity that is often overlooked in modern gaming titles.

Force of Nature is an early access game about solitary survival, crafting and building. When I say survival, I don’t mean about the need to eat and drink or keep warm, as these aren’t a factor. The main way to survive is to keep away from the various animals and creatures that inhabit the woodland, beyond the beach you landed on. In that sense, it’s not a true survival game as we’ve come to know, rather a 3rd person, resource gathering and crafting game.

Graphics are ok in Force of Nature – the water is possibly where the visuals really shine, as it’s inviting and clear. Foliage looks nice, only let down by low-res NPC models and bland terrain textures. That said, the game is in early access and runs on DX9 as standard – an odd choice for this day and age of technology.

Where Force of Nature really shines, is in making the player feel truly self-sufficient, if at times a little alone. The absence of an in-game soundtrack feels like a conscious decision to make the player feel isolated – stranded with nothing but woodland and wildlife around them. The ambient sounds of the forest are nicely presented, as are the crackling noises of the fire and the sploshing of waves lapping at the shoreline. If you strain to listen, you can hear strange animal noises in the distance – or was that the cry of a goblin?

Force of Nature is a breath of fresh air in the sense that there are no zombies in the game. Zombies can be a little tiresome as they’re in virtually every game these days – CoD? Zombie mode. Logistics Simulator? Zombies. Fifa 18? Zombie manager mode… Just kidding, that actually sounds kinda cool. The game builds players up to a point where they can fight the goblins though, through a simple but effective tutorial. The tutorial uses the game’s UI to deliver “quests” such as “build a bonfire” or “craft an axe”. It’s basic, but it nudges and hints the player along so that they can learn the ropes.

Touching on the UI, it should be said that it’s a little clunky – not to mention pretty unattractive. That said, they’ve tried to keep it within the theme of “stranded on an island” – and after a while getting used to which hotkeys do what, you can navigate it with absolute ease.

Farming is a neat system, with seed beds for growing crops and a trapping system for taming animals. There are a wide variety of farm animals to tame, lock behind a fence and harvest materials from. If you get fed up of eggs for breakfast though, you can always bop that chicken over the head with a hammer and cook ‘er up.

At times the game can feel like a bit of a grind. This is most evident in the combat system, where there is no way to dodge or block enemy attacks. The “cudgel” boasts that you can use it to dodge enemies, at the cost of a reduced attack power, but this just doesn’t seem to work. The enemies have pinpoint accuracy and if close enough, will always hit you. This means you’re just bashing enemies mindlessly over the head until they (or you) die. It embodies the grind that the game can sometimes be, as there’s no skill involved – apart from judging when to pull out of a fight.

The AI are very basic – especially the hostile mobs such as goblins and wild animals. Foxes and bears will continue to chase you until you hurt them enough to make them scurry away – honestly making a bear do this is just hilariously wrong. Apart from being unable to escape said animals, they also boast the speed of a super hero, making them pretty formidable foes in Force of Nature – something I think needs to be adjusted.

Maybe I like this game because it scratches a little bit of a nostalgic itch. There was this game on the iPhone years ago where you had to collect resources and survive on a desert island, but the name escapes me and I haven’t been able to find it since. It was awesome and Force of Nature seeks to extend the island survival theme.

Despite Force of Nature feeling like hard work at times; especially when collecting resources that don’t re-spawn, there’s something about the game that is fun. I always wanted to build more and reach the next stage of crafting recipes – each new stage allowing me to travel deeper into the randomly generated world. That sense of adventure coupled with danger and isolation, makes for fun – call me twisted if you like! If you’re into crafting games, with a bit of adventure in the wilderness, I urge you to look past the somewhat unpolished first impression, and give Force of Nature a go.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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