09/11/2018

๐ŸŒด๐Ÿ’€Review: Green Hell "When I think of “green hell”, the first thing that springs to mind is the back garden"๐Ÿ’€๐ŸŒณ #GameDev #EarlyAccess #IndieGame @gazchap

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Green Hell (Early Access)

Developer: Creepy Jar 
Platform: PC - Steam
Review by: Gareth ‘GazChap’ Griffiths
When I think of “green hell”, the first thing that springs to mind is the back garden at my house, in which there is a surprisingly large variety of flora and fauna, kept vaguely in check by the efforts of my ever-suffering wife and the frankly unexpected level of teamwork exhibited by our six cats.
Fortunately, though, because I live in the United Kingdom, there isn’t anything in there that is in danger of causing me serious physical harm or prematurely ending my time on this Earth. Not like the Amazon rainforest, the setting for this Early Access title from Creepy Jar, available now from Steam.


I’ve never been to the Amazon rainforest (indeed, the closest I get to anything involving Amazon is signing for my regular parcel deliveries) but a day or two playing Green Hell has somewhat put me off ever going. Which is crazy really, as even if I did go, I’m highly unlikely to end up like Jake, the protagonist in the game.
The game begins with a basic tutorial, which is still a little barebones (it is Early Access after all!) and starts off the game’s storyline. Jake (the player) is visiting the rainforest with his partner Mia, who is on a mission of diplomacy to try and win favour with a local tribe after a book that you wrote caused friction between various world governments and the people of said tribe.

Mia helps you with the game’s basics, teaching you how to start fires, heal yourself and where to find food. Then, something happens, and Mia disappears with a panicked message over your walkie-talkie… but before you can rescue her, the story ends (Early Access again!) and the game rather unceremoniously dumps you into the “core” of the early access game – Survival Mode.
As the name suggests, the goal is simply to survive. It doesn’t provide you with much in the way of help either, and indeed all the supplies you’ve carefully built up during the tutorial are stripped from you, you no longer have a shelter and you’re literally on your own.
You have several vital statistics that you must keep an eye on while playing. First, you have a health bar – standard really, once this is gone you’re dead and buried. You also have stamina and sanity, and as you’re playing the game, these will decrease. These can be replenished with regular rest and by keeping yourself well fed and hydrated – but this is easier than it sounds. Finding decent sources of nutrition is challenging, even on Normal difficulty, and to get the best out of the various foods in the jungle you need to cook regularly, which means keeping a good stock of supplies on hand for fire-starting. You must also look after your “macronutrients” – fats, carbohydrates, protein and water. Meat gives protein and fats (and, if not cooked, will give you parasites and food poisoning too!) and fruits and nuts give you carbohydrates and water.
Picking up the various items that you’ll find dotted around on the jungle floor adds crafting “recipes” to your notebook that you can then use to build tools, weapons, shelter and other helpful items like healing items. For example, a small stick and two feathers will get you an arrow that you can use with a bow (and, excellently, when you fire said arrows you can retrieve them)
The healing powers of the numerous plants that you’ll find dotted around the jungle are very important, because (unlike my garden) pretty much everything you’ll find is out to kill you. Venture into the water and you’ll get covered in leeches – which you must find by inspecting each of your limbs, and then tear the leeches off one by one. Get too close to an ant’s nest and you’ll find yourself covered in rashes, or you might get attacked by a jaguar with almost no warning.
Or, you might come across another tribe hell bent on killing you and harvesting your organs. Nothing is truly friendly in this game – if you’re lucky, whatever you’re facing might just run away, but if all else fails you’d better break out the weapons and give it what for.
The game world is not procedurally generated and is pretty much exactly what I imagine the Amazon rainforest to look like. There are camps and other man-made features dotted around the large map, but for the most part you’ve got to scavenge what you can from what’s around you to even stand a chance of getting further into the game.
Green Hell is already surprisingly polished for an Early Access title that is (at the time of writing) only at version 0.2.1. The user interface is easy to use if a little repetitive and occasionally clunky, the sound effects are decent, and the menu music is atmospheric and pleasing to the ear. Where this game truly shines though is in its visuals – the Amazon looks stunning, with rays of moonlight and sunlight shining through the jungle canopy and reflecting off the water and trees.
It runs quite well too, with only a few small frame-rate drops on my machine on the Very High graphical setting – not bad for an aging Core i5 with a GTX 980.
To conclude, I have two complaints about the game, neither of which is particularly fair on the game if I’m honest.
The first is that there’s not an awful lot to it, but that’s really to be expected given how early in the development it is. There’s an awful lot of scope for new creatures and plants and mechanics to be added to the game, and I’m going to be keeping an eye on it.
The second is quite simply that I suck at it. Bear Grylls I most certainly am not. Again, it’s not fair to judge the game on the skill of its players, but if I had to suggest an improvement, it would be to not make the game quite so punishing right at the start. Even just giving the player some basic tools to begin with would help – and I’ve not even dared to try it on the harder difficulties yet.
Summary
In summary, fans of the survival genre might enjoy this game but, at this early stage may find there’s not enough there to keep their interest just yet. If, however, you’re like me and have very little experience of survival games, you’ll probably enjoy it and get frustrated with it in equal measure.
 

๐Ÿ’ง❄️ RATING: MELTING ❄️๐Ÿ’ง
Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)