Green Hell is the newest in a long string of survival games that have been releasing lately, this one set within the Amazonian rainforest. While others in the genre stick to a more cartoony or unrealistic approach to the survival aspects, Green Hell aims to set itself apart by being immersive, intensive and intriguing. As a realistic survival game, Green Hell takes real-life first aid into mind, locally used remedies and localised infections.
This preview is written based on the 0.1.2 version of the game.
Green Hell starts off to a rocky start with its 20 minutes or so tutorial story mode, with our 2 characters, Jake the protagonist and his hinted at lover whose is only ever seen at a distance, behind a fire or behind a tarp. These 2 people have come to this land to hopefully talk with the local tribes, though the tribe itself is split into 2 parts, the friendly tribe who want to talk with us, and the warrior tribe who wish to kill us. Unsurprisingly, the warrior tribe attack and most likely kidnap our lover, with only her screams to push forward our protagonist Jake to save her.
That is where the story ends sadly, giving a short tutorial of the controls, mechanics and how to basically survive before you are thrust into survival mode. Survival mode is seemingly endless, with the player tasked with living as long as possible, making a base of operations and fighting back the natives. While the story mode may be short, I did spend over 14 hours in one sitting playing the survival mode, I was entranced and was having too much fun to put it down.
There isn’t much to do in survival besides surviving, however, it is lengthened somewhat with the ability to find special locations on the map to unlock new crafting. Each one unlocks between 1 and 5 new crafting recipes, from new weapons and tools to bedding or shelter. They are quite spread out, with the idea being you should make camps in several spots to be able to gear up for the trek between each one. The current coordinates to discover are as follows: 37’W 19’S, 41’W 19’S, 40’W 24’S, 46’W 26’S, 47’W 18’S, 52’W 17’S, 51’W 19’S, 51’W 28’S.
I personally made my main camp at 40’W 24’S since it was abundant with wood, fruit, animals, Molineria, snakes, bees and came with a free bed in a cave. Your main camp will be the crux of your survival as you will need a constant supply of water, fats, carbohydrates and protein to keep your body going.
Following along with the realism set forth in this game, Green Hell focused on local medicine, foraging techniques and using whatever you have at hand to save your life. You can turn tobacco into a healing bandage for venom wounds, bones are used to extract worms and you can turn a coconut into a bowl to cook soup. One of the best features is that your wounds, insects and ailments are located in different parts of your body, requiring you to look around for them, each having their own treatments.
As stated before, you can’t just eat meat to survive, you will need to satisfy your body’s requirements for all types of nutrients to stay healthy. You eat nuts for fats, fruit for carbs, meat for protein and water for liquids. Meat will need to be cooked, or else you will get food poisoning, the same for eating spoiled foods and unsafe water. The ritual of finding food, checking if it’s safe, cooking it straight up or turning it into a stew is quite enjoyable.
Natives are also an issue on this land, as currently the only ones you will find are the warrior tribes that want to kill you. If you are unprepared you will die easily to their hunting parties, possible in 2-3 hits. You can make these encounters much easier by keeping a supply of bandages, throwing spears or even crafting a bow and arrows to snipe them from afar. You then have the choice to eat the natives or use their feathers for more arrows.
If you do not take care of yourself, either through nutrients, the infections on your body or eating human flesh, your sanity will begin to plummet. Once your sanity hits around 50% you will start to hear your own voice in your head, telling you to give up, that you won’t survive and that your lover is dead. This voice gets louder and angrier as you get more and more insane, to the point where you will hear 2 or 3 lines of shouting at once, overlapping. If the voices were not enough, you will even start to see fake images of natives coming to attack you, dealing damage but disappearing in 1 hit. You can die to your insanity so you will need to keep this under control.
Green Hell features a skill system that improves as you do actions, for example, if you craft something your crafting skill will increase, making the durability of tools higher or crafting them faster. You can improve your axe or sword usage, archery, throwing, spear usage and fishing, each of which will allow you to do more damage or use up less stamina. Though crafting will unlock new recipes as it goes higher, it doesn’t currently have enough recipes to reward you in the current patch.
As the survival mode continues it will get harder, as the rain will become less frequent and tribe attacks become more frequent. However once you make a good enough base, level up your skills and gather a good supply of arrows, surviving ain’t half bad. Once you reach this point you can either grind out your skills in preparation for new patches or possibly become bored at the lack of content.
If you have come to end of your rope in survival mode, there is also the challenges on offer for you to dive straight into. There are currently 3 challenges, to make a signal fire for an aeroplane, craft a raft to leave the island or to make a base, all of which give you a 3-day time limit. While playing the challenges you cannot save and death means you have to start all over, solidifying them as challenges rather than easy objectives.
I am generally pleased with how Green Hell has started, the insanity mechanic is done rather well with the voices and atmosphere being top notch whilst not relying on cheap jump scares to instil horror. The difficulty is at a good even level, though starting the game for the first time can feel a bit daunting as you are just thrown straight in after the short tutorial. Crafting, cooking and base building all feel solid enough but are a bit lacklustre right now with the lack of options for building.
Like many Early Access games, Green Hell suffers greatly from bugs, glitches and some poor optimisation. My backpack is reset every time I load, often dropping items, my arrows glitch out horizontally all the time, items rarely fall through the world if you drop them. Besides inventory, the natives and animals can get stuck on terrain, making them easy prey, some animals and locations are seemingly immune or just glitch our your projectiles along with some other positional errors. One of the biggest bugs is that if you play for prolonged periods of time without death or loading then mushrooms, bananas and other items stop spawning, forcing you to save at your base and reload.
Overall, Green Hell has some laid some solid foundations for its game. I love the insanity details, how crafting is so immersive and the use of local medicines. The combination of your character’s notebook and own note making make the game feel so realistic against other survivals that rely on sci-fi or outlandish designs to bring in their audiences. Thankfully, as I am writing this review, the developer is bringing out patches almost every week, fixing bugs that the player base alerts the devs too. With some time I can see this game becoming one of my favourites, as I even found myself playing for another hour whilst I was checking over my review to make sure I named things correctly.