Survival games are currently all over the market. Although I love the genre, it’s hard to find one that really sets itself apart from the rest. In some respects, Green Hell is very much the same, with it not being far from what you’d expect from a survival game, but it also somehow feels fresh.
Green hell is still in early development. That’s something that normally gives me pause when trying a new game. I am not nervous about supporting a game in early development, but I often feel that it’s hard to get a view of the goal for the final game early on. Often, the final game ends up feeling very different than what you experienced as it was being made.
I don’t know if that’s going to occur with Green Hell, but so far it feels like the game knows what it wants to be and is actively working towards that goal.
Green Hell is clearly designed as a single player experience; the player surviving alone in the game world. But I believe that the game would lend itself well to a co-op or small team experience. The survival experience of the game is a more deliberate, slow-paced one. One where small mistakes can cost you your life and each decision you make can affect your chances of long-term survival.
One of the game mechanics in Green Hell I enjoyed most was the inventory management. Each item type has a dedicated spot in your backpack which you can organize as you need. You have hooks where you can attach ropes you’ve collected, straps where you can store sticks you’ve picked up, loops where you can store the weapons and tools you’ve crafted, etc. I suppose it feels fresh compared to the usual ‘store anything’ backpack. Here you have no limits in what you can place inside but only if you can make it fit, like a real backpack. It feels like inventory management is deliberate and important, something the developers put time into rather than just being something the player has to deal with as an afterthought to other game-play.
Another unique feature I like is the need to balance your food intake. There are three different factors when it comes to food, and one for water. You need to balance protein, carbohydrates, and fats, along with your water intake. Falling behind on even one can be detrimental to your mental or physical health.
The game doesn’t hold your hand but is intuitive. It didn’t take me long to figure out how to play. But even once you know, you can die if you make even small mistakes. Sleep on the ground? You could have a worm burrow into your skin. That will slowly drive you insane until you provide medical care. Go too long before meeting your dietary needs? Well, maybe you then find yourself losing your mind and hallucinating noises nearby, something which can really make recovering much harder for the player, particularly if it makes you miss the sound of a nearby rattlesnake.
Current state and future of the game
As I mentioned earlier, the game is in early development. That means there are bugs that you will encounter. This is to be expected, but so far none of the bugs I found was game-breaking. I’ve heard reports of catastrophic failures leading to game crashing, but I haven’t yet experienced that. My biggest ones were items being stuck on the ground or becoming unusable for no apparent reason.
Graphics are in a nice state so far. The game seems well optimized. My aging graphics card didn’t have trouble keeping up with max settings (although my fans were definitely working overtime).
The game states that a single player campaign is in development. But from what I’ve seen that looks like it could be a really great story. Currently, the open-world survival mode is the only real game-play to be had. That’s what most people play a survival game for anyways though. The story is interesting and helps teach you game mechanics and set the scene. But the real fun is had just putting yourself into the game and surviving.
The game could use much more content and still has a way to go to really increase longevity and replayability. That being said, it doesn’t feel incomplete and broken, but it could still use a lot more things to do. Particularly when it comes to base building and storage solutions (currently you simply leave piles of stuff you’ve found on the ground around your camp). Especially if it goes in the direction of multiplayer, there needs to be something for the players to work towards, like a fully functional and outfitted camp. If we’re talking about my wish list for survival games, I would like to see some sort of farming in the future too…
After playing the game for a while, it feels like you’ve done everything, and accomplished whatever there is to do. That comes from being so early in development though. There’s certainly far more they can add to the game, and new dimensions they can explore. They have a very solid foundation already established, I just want to see a little more flesh on the bones.
Some game-play elements feel fun and interesting the first few times you encounter them, but then quickly become redundant and monotonous to deal with. I feel like this is something the developers will likely refine and fix as it is further completed. I don’t know how many times I had to pick leeches off of my arms or legs because I was simply walking through the jungle. And it’s really weird how the only fruit you can collect in the game somehow rots away within about a day. I wish I got hungry a little more slowly, food lasted between a little and a lot longer before spoiling (at least non-meats), and offered a little more nutrition. I mean I shouldn’t have to eat 10 unknown fruits to satisfy my need for carbs. There should also be many more inedible foods that you can encounter. And since after only a few playthroughs you learn which foods you can and can’t eat, maybe randomly change around food properties on each new playthrough, so you can’t metagame as much. You’d actually need to learn which plants are poisonous from one playthrough to the next.
In the end, Green Hell looks like a great game with great potential. It has a solid foundation to turn into a really solid survival experience. It’s got enough fresh takes on the genre to feel new, yet familiar, and with the right mix of content additions, I think it could really set itself apart as a leader in the genre. It’s just not quite there yet. I’ll be watching its development closely, hoping for more.
Although I don’t know what the developers have planned for the game, I very much look forward to what they do with it.