As our resident walking simulator enthusiast, I was instantly onboard when Alice Bee asked me to play a new game exploring a forest. I’m always up for a wander in the woods. I am a bit of a genre purist so with a name like Sons Of The Forest, I was concerned it might be another of those so-called walking sims that are more concerned with making you listen to a Radio 4 dramatic monologue. Thankfully, no, this is simply a pretty walking simulator exploring an island bustling with wildlife. Here, enjoy this video with some sights from my peaceful strolls.
Returning from brewing a cuppa while the game loaded, I am delighted to find myself on the banks of an icy mountain stream. Snow lines the banks, crunching pleasantly underfoot as I approach (and not only do I leave trails in the snow, I can see my legs too). I watch entrance as refracted rainbow light dances on the surface of the water and salmon lazily roam beneath. As a natural water baby, I go with the flow.
This world is pretty, and full of life. I follow streams as they meander through forests then merge downstream into rivers, where I watch salmon leap up waterfalls. I follow rabbits down paths. I hear the songs of birds I don’t recognize me, which take off when started and flit around me. I watch ducks land on a lake. I spot a few hawks far overhead. I chase deer. The forest falls dark and I look up to see thick clouds passing before the sun, clearing soon enough. I notice ivy climb the dense trees of the forest, then note the change in foliage as it enters glades and meadows. I find flowers and fruits. The dense undergrowth is pushed aside as I roam through, rustling, and shakes as critters barrel through too. My boots squelch on wet mud and twigs snap underfoot. How lovely to roam these peaceful woods! Except, at one point, I think a squirrel bit me (as you can see in the video).
I’m not quite sure where it leads. Several times, I have watched the sun set and then the game becomes impossibly dark. You can still move, judging by the footstep sounds, but I can’t see a damn thing. Is this meant to be death? Maybe this is the heavy-handed family message I was fearing? Maybe after we die, we no exist to see life, but some facet of us continues living through our sons and daughters? Motion beyond ourselves? An unseen continuity? I do not know. But I happily close the game at this point then return another day for a whole new walk.
I look forward to exploring more of this island, wandering down more paths, delving deeper into that forest, and finding better swimming spots. I’ve seen glimpses of skittish deer through the trees so I’m very excited to discover what else might live here.
Our Ollie’s Sons Of The Forest early access review the other week called it “a gorgeous island filled with cannibals and little else so far.” I fear I am too old to understand Gen Z humour.
If you fancy another pleasant walk towards metaphorical death, I strongly recommend classic walking simulator Proteus [disclosure: made by a friend]. Or if you’re feeling bold, you might enjoy literal death in 2015’s Tonight You Die, which wanders around a Brutalist estate.