Imagine this — You are in a gorgeous Amazonian rainforest with the love of your life, following your dreams, so what could go possibly go wrong? Well, apart from your wife is missing, a native tribe is trying to kill you, and the hundreds of natural hazards concealed in the Amazonian rainforest; nothing, absolutely nothing at all! There has never been a more appropriate name for a game than Green Hell, because this is precisely what you will experience in this psychological survival game; Hell, green and beautiful Hell. The best part? You can experience this all with your friends!
Green Hell follows the story of Jake Higgins (yourself) and his wife, Mia Higgins who previously ventured into the Amazonian rainforest where they discovered the native lost tribe- the Yabahuaca. Both Jake and Mia spent time studying the Yabahuaca, paying considerable attention to the tribe’s remarkable health and high immunity to disease. Upon their return, Jake publishes a book called ‘Spirits of Amazonia’. Although it was generally considered a failure, Spirits of Amazonia caught the attention of a pharmaceutical corporation called Omolu Corp who are interested in furthering Jake’s research.
Three years passed and during this time Mia has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. The bills begin piling up and the future begins to look bleak for your wife. Suddenly, the Omulu Corp offer to pay for an all expense trip for Jake and Mia to continue your research into the Yabahuaca tribe and their immunity and medical substances native to the rainforest. Will their secret help discover a cure for cancer and save your wife? With nothing to lose you return to the rainforest but quickly learn that a lot of changed in the last three years…
Once you arrive at the rainforest, you are introduced to the fundamentals of the game. Upon waking you find that Mia has ventured off to contact the Yabahuaca, as the Yabahuca are a friendly, welcoming tribe. But things don’t quite go according to plan as you soon learn that the outside world has caused the tribe to fracture into two groups; one friendly and one hostile. This is where your Green Hell journey begins.
Despite Green Hell still being in Early Access, it is extremely complete and playable game that has recently received a significant update to include co-op mode. Its story mode is engaging and surprisingly deep, but unfortunately is only limited to single player (although, developer Creepy Jar have confirmed that Story co-op mode is planned). Multiplayer however allows for up to four players to play a ‘Survival mode’, which basically allows you and your friends to venture into the Amazonian rainforest and explore the vast map and dangers that lurk within the rainforest; not to mention that hostile native tribe that don’t appreciate your company.
This sounds easy enough, but there is a STEEP learning curve in Green Hell (both story and survival mode) that requires you to not only manage your nutritional needs (fat, carb, water, and protein intake), but also your physical health (cuts, infection, parasites, worms, leeches) as both these statistics play a significant effect on one of the most interesting mechanics I have come across in a survival game; your sanity.
Sanity plays a huge part in Green Hell, so unless you like being called worthless and abused (which are very own Jimmy seems to be fine with), it is paramount that you look after yourself and your colleagues if you want to survive this ordeal. These remarks come from your inner voice that begins to creep in when you begin struggling with the mental aspect of life in the jungle. Losing sanity is a reaction to when you neglect (or simply are unaware) of negative statuses such as insomnia, rash, parasites, leeches, or following the death of one of your teammates. These voices eventually lead to hallucinations of the hostile native tribe who although don’t exist in reality, can kill you. That’s right, these hallucinations are as real as low-fat mayonnaise and there is nothing your team members can do other than
sit there and laugh tell you that they are figments of your mind and watch you freak out. Sleeping, staying near light/fire and eating comfort food are the best ways to regain your sanity, along with removing the causes of these negative effects by picking off the leeches or digging out the worms from under your skin. These self-management mechanics are extremely well done — For example, you have to craft a bone needle to pick out the worms festering in your arms and legs that is a reaction from sleeping on a dirty ground. Once you have removed the worms, you are left with an exposed wound that has the potential to now get infected, this is where you have to craft a bandage and apply to the wound. What happens if you don’t bandage your wound and it gets infected? Well, let’s just say that after four days straight of having an infected arm from a jaguar attack, I finally figured out what those maggots are for..
Green Hell shares a lot of similarities with another fantastic survival game, The Forest. Not only do both games share a gorgeous green landscape that is full of various ways to kill you (hence Green Hell), but their crafting and building system are quite similar. Like The Forest, Green Hell’s crafting is very much trial-and-error until you discover the correct components (or look them up on the internet). For example, two rocks, a stick, and rope will allow you to craft an axe. I was rather impressed when I uncovered that a lot of items had multiple uses within the crafting UI, such as the trusty old coconut. Coconuts can be found on the ground or by throwing rocks at them when they’re in trees (finally, cartoons taught me something useful), but here is where the magic really begins — You can crack open a coconut and drink its clean, purified water (which is great because the majority of water from rivers and lakes is contaminated with parasites), but from here you can also eat the insides of the coconut or cook it depending on your taste (and nutritional needs). And just when you think you have discovered all the possible uses for a coconut, you can simply place the coconut shell on the ground and it will capture the rain from the sky; providing clean water to drink, that is one amazing fruit!
Your notebook documents the materials required to build structures such as camp fires, shelter, and most importantly, beds. There are several structures that can be initially built from day one, but you will also come across a number of blueprints that allow you to build a number of useful structures. It took me awhile to discover that sleeping in multiplayer allows both you and your friends to spawn at that location, so my advice is to prioritise building a bed as this will save a lot of arguments and frustration from happening in your tribe.
Sleeping is a huge part of Green Hell as it not only regains stamina, but also helps recover from conditions such as food poisoning and fever. Sleeping also plays a significant part in your sanity — Stay awake for too long and you will soon develop insomnia and begin hearing those voices inside your head (The same ones Jimmy hears every day).
I was impressed with the sheer size of the map — Just when you think you have explored the entire rainforest, you discovered another section of the map, and then another one. It will take you several hours to explore all the little secrets that developer Creepy Jar have included. The offsetted terrain can make it challenging at times to descend down to lower ground (and ascend to higher), but this is just one of the many challenges you will in Green Hell. There are also different tools like climbing gear that allows players to reach previously unreachable areas (hint, hint), along with a set of complete scuba diving gear. These additional tools encourage players to explore every inch of the rainforest as there are a number of secrets included in the game, rewarding those who put the effort and time in.
One challenge you won’t have to worry too much during multiplayer is actually combat against the hostile tribe. The AI is… poor. Often, they will stand there, take a few hits then jump back like they’re an amateur boxer, but rarely does the AI cause any substantial resistance other than when you are going insane. This actually isn’t the worse thing in the world, especially early in the game when establishing yourself in the jungle is paramount. The last thing you want is to receive a cut or two from combat, which will no doubt become infected and soon enough, you will hear those voices inside your head all over again! However, I did only test my strength on ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ difficulty setting, which is essentially normal. So, I shouldn’t criticise this aspect too much as there are a total of four difficulty settings to choose from — A Walk In The Park, Welcome To The Jungle, King Of The Jungle, and for the true survivalist out there Green Hell! (Green Hell only allows for one life, so good luck!)
Green Hell combines several unique survival mechanics in a gorgeous looking world with several challenges. While story mode slowly introduces players into the various survival mechanics, the majority players will jump straight into the co-op mode and initially struggle with the game’s mechanics. The future looks bright for Green Hell as several new features will be added before leaving Early Access such as Co-op Story mode, new structures, achievements, PvE mode, and console release all by the end 2020. I would have loved an endgame for multiplayer mode, and perhaps not too late to add to the game, but for anyone up for a rewarding challenge with their friends, Green Hell certainly lives up to its name.
- GAMEPLAY - 89%89%
- GRAPHICS - 90%90%
- AUDIO - 73%73%
- POTENTIAL - 88%88%
Despite Green Hell’s initial steep learning curve, it quickly becomes one of the most satisfying and mechanically deep games of its genre. It is great fun to play solo or with your friends and will potentially ruin one of two friendships along the way. Green Hell’s roadmap promises to address the few issues I have with the game, so by the time it exits Early Access Green Hell is going to be one of the best survival games on the market!