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Found 4 results

  1. Jack Gardner

    Review: The Forest

    Armed with nothing more than an axe, a few cans of soda, and a paltry supply of medicine, I step out into a new world filled with beauty and horror in equal measure. The island I've found myself stranded on holds glistening ponds rife with exotic fish, fields in which rabbits and squirrels frolic together alongside giant lizards. Crocodiles swim in the lakes and deer cavort in the thickets of the woods. In many ways, this island seems a paradise; that is, until the sun sets and human horrors emerge from the earth. In The Forest, Endnight Games has carefully crafted a vibrant ecosystem in which players become disruptive interlopers and slowly descend, both figuratively and literally, into madness. Players take on the role of Eric Leblanc as he flies on a plane with his son, Timmy, to an unnamed destination. The airplane seems to hit turbulence in the opening scene before crashing violently onto a remote island. As Eric struggles to maintain consciousness, a strange human painted red wades into the wreckage and takes Timmy away. When Eric finally awakens, all he has are the supplies he can scavenge from the plane and its deceased occupants and his will to survive and find Timmy. The Forest becomes a game about survival and discovery after those initial opening minutes. Finding good places to set up camp, creating defensible positions, and developing sustainable ways of harvesting food and water are the absolute priority. To do all of that, players will need to master the crafting system to create structures, upgrades to their gear, and even entirely new pieces of equipment. It might also require some trial and error, as those opening days can be quite risky for a novice player. The biggest danger in The Forest comes at night. You see, for as idyllic and peaceful as the island can seem during the day, it's actually home to several groups of cannibals. They aren't automatically hostile at first, but with time their attitude will shift. This shift happens sooner if the player begins attacking them, building large structures, obstructing their patrol paths, or journeying into their underground catacombs. Once the cannibals become hostile, The Forest slowly ramps up the frequency and strength of their attacks. Players will need to turn to devious traps and fort layouts to keep themselves safe - but always remember that safety is relative in The Forest. As attacks become more potent, players will begin encountering a wider variety of cannibals, like ones that throw Molotov cocktails that can leave a base in flames or bombs that are capable of blowing a hole through your defensive walls. However, cannibals are not the worst thing that can crawl up into the surface world. Nightmarish conglomerations of limbs and heads occasionally roam the wild and catching their attention can prove to be incredibly deadly for the unprepared player. These behemoths can plow through defenses and traps with ease, leaving your carefully constructed bases in tatters. Even worse, they represent the primary threats once players have explored enough of the overworld and begin spelunking into the dark caverns that delve deep into the earth for treasure and resources. The possible treasures that await in the depths of The Forest's caves are certainly worth the risk. Improved axes, components to build explosives, hints at the history of the island and the origins of its twisted population, and gear that enables further exploration of caves can only be found by exploring the various nooks and crannies the cannibals have filled with their trophies and victims. The Forest does something interesting with its pacing and story. It initially hits hard with the horror of cannibalism on full display. Cannibals feast on their downed comrades, their caves and settlements hang bisected bodies and limbs everywhere, and they'll even build horrific displays in the night to mark their territory. However, over time, The Forest pulls a fantastically creepy and insidious slight-of-hand trick: These scenes gradually become mundane, normal - and there's always the option to fall into similar practices. Players can also turn to cannibalism and create effigies to mark their territory, blurring the line between the player and the monsters. Arming players with the ability to participate in cannibalism poses interesting moral questions: How far are you willing to go to survive? Have you really survived if you have abandoned the things that make you human? These questions tie in nicely with The Forest's climax which asks the player how far they have fallen from where they were when the game began. What sacrifice are you willing to make for something you see as yours? The Forest can be tackled solo or in a group with up to eight people playing simultaneously. The solo or duo experience seems more suited to players who value the survival horror experience and are looking for a more focused game. Playing with more than one other person lowers the tension while diving into caves or getting into scraps with groups of cannibals. However, it also makes building large settlements a more attainable goal. I'd encourage everyone to try both modes of play to see what suits their personal tastes best. After four years in Steam's Early Access program, The Forest finally looks great in an optimized state. The lighting effects as the day slowly cycles to night are especially great. Lighting in extreme darkness becomes a major hurdle since, oddly, being in the dark makes it difficult to see. There's no way around this by being crafty with the lighting settings; players simply have to make do with whatever light sources they can find. The all too real danger posed by darkness serves to make plunging into foreboding caves that much more frightening. It also highlights Endnight's impressive use of sound to convey the feel of locations, whether that's the creaking of trees in the woods, the drip of water in damp caves, or the maddened shriek of a blood-crazed creature in the woods calling for reinforcements. Conclusion: Going into The Forest blind and discovering the scope of its world, crafting system, and secrets was a really enjoyable ride through a new entry in the survival horror genre. It manages to toe the line between enjoyable building sim and the horror of monsters lurking in the dark. The story on its own isn't terribly interesting save for an impressive twist leading up to the end that might have been better served with more integration to the wider game. However, the mechanics and presentation of the game tell a story all their own that makes the core narrative stronger by association. At a mere $20, The Forest is a huge steal. I spent over 60 hours in it until I reached the end of the story, but I plan on diving back in with some friends to see what kinds of crazy contraptions and bases we can build in the dangerous wilds. The Forest is currently available for PC and is rumored to have a PlayStation 4 port on the way).
  2. Jack Gardner

    Feature: Review: The Forest

    Armed with nothing more than an axe, a few cans of soda, and a paltry supply of medicine, I step out into a new world filled with beauty and horror in equal measure. The island I've found myself stranded on holds glistening ponds rife with exotic fish, fields in which rabbits and squirrels frolic together alongside giant lizards. Crocodiles swim in the lakes and deer cavort in the thickets of the woods. In many ways, this island seems a paradise; that is, until the sun sets and human horrors emerge from the earth. In The Forest, Endnight Games has carefully crafted a vibrant ecosystem in which players become disruptive interlopers and slowly descend, both figuratively and literally, into madness. Players take on the role of Eric Leblanc as he flies on a plane with his son, Timmy, to an unnamed destination. The airplane seems to hit turbulence in the opening scene before crashing violently onto a remote island. As Eric struggles to maintain consciousness, a strange human painted red wades into the wreckage and takes Timmy away. When Eric finally awakens, all he has are the supplies he can scavenge from the plane and its deceased occupants and his will to survive and find Timmy. The Forest becomes a game about survival and discovery after those initial opening minutes. Finding good places to set up camp, creating defensible positions, and developing sustainable ways of harvesting food and water are the absolute priority. To do all of that, players will need to master the crafting system to create structures, upgrades to their gear, and even entirely new pieces of equipment. It might also require some trial and error, as those opening days can be quite risky for a novice player. The biggest danger in The Forest comes at night. You see, for as idyllic and peaceful as the island can seem during the day, it's actually home to several groups of cannibals. They aren't automatically hostile at first, but with time their attitude will shift. This shift happens sooner if the player begins attacking them, building large structures, obstructing their patrol paths, or journeying into their underground catacombs. Once the cannibals become hostile, The Forest slowly ramps up the frequency and strength of their attacks. Players will need to turn to devious traps and fort layouts to keep themselves safe - but always remember that safety is relative in The Forest. As attacks become more potent, players will begin encountering a wider variety of cannibals, like ones that throw Molotov cocktails that can leave a base in flames or bombs that are capable of blowing a hole through your defensive walls. However, cannibals are not the worst thing that can crawl up into the surface world. Nightmarish conglomerations of limbs and heads occasionally roam the wild and catching their attention can prove to be incredibly deadly for the unprepared player. These behemoths can plow through defenses and traps with ease, leaving your carefully constructed bases in tatters. Even worse, they represent the primary threats once players have explored enough of the overworld and begin spelunking into the dark caverns that delve deep into the earth for treasure and resources. The possible treasures that await in the depths of The Forest's caves are certainly worth the risk. Improved axes, components to build explosives, hints at the history of the island and the origins of its twisted population, and gear that enables further exploration of caves can only be found by exploring the various nooks and crannies the cannibals have filled with their trophies and victims. The Forest does something interesting with its pacing and story. It initially hits hard with the horror of cannibalism on full display. Cannibals feast on their downed comrades, their caves and settlements hang bisected bodies and limbs everywhere, and they'll even build horrific displays in the night to mark their territory. However, over time, The Forest pulls a fantastically creepy and insidious slight-of-hand trick: These scenes gradually become mundane, normal - and there's always the option to fall into similar practices. Players can also turn to cannibalism and create effigies to mark their territory, blurring the line between the player and the monsters. Arming players with the ability to participate in cannibalism poses interesting moral questions: How far are you willing to go to survive? Have you really survived if you have abandoned the things that make you human? These questions tie in nicely with The Forest's climax which asks the player how far they have fallen from where they were when the game began. What sacrifice are you willing to make for something you see as yours? The Forest can be tackled solo or in a group with up to eight people playing simultaneously. The solo or duo experience seems more suited to players who value the survival horror experience and are looking for a more focused game. Playing with more than one other person lowers the tension while diving into caves or getting into scraps with groups of cannibals. However, it also makes building large settlements a more attainable goal. I'd encourage everyone to try both modes of play to see what suits their personal tastes best. After four years in Steam's Early Access program, The Forest finally looks great in an optimized state. The lighting effects as the day slowly cycles to night are especially great. Lighting in extreme darkness becomes a major hurdle since, oddly, being in the dark makes it difficult to see. There's no way around this by being crafty with the lighting settings; players simply have to make do with whatever light sources they can find. The all too real danger posed by darkness serves to make plunging into foreboding caves that much more frightening. It also highlights Endnight's impressive use of sound to convey the feel of locations, whether that's the creaking of trees in the woods, the drip of water in damp caves, or the maddened shriek of a blood-crazed creature in the woods calling for reinforcements. Conclusion: Going into The Forest blind and discovering the scope of its world, crafting system, and secrets was a really enjoyable ride through a new entry in the survival horror genre. It manages to toe the line between enjoyable building sim and the horror of monsters lurking in the dark. The story on its own isn't terribly interesting save for an impressive twist leading up to the end that might have been better served with more integration to the wider game. However, the mechanics and presentation of the game tell a story all their own that makes the core narrative stronger by association. At a mere $20, The Forest is a huge steal. I spent over 60 hours in it until I reached the end of the story, but I plan on diving back in with some friends to see what kinds of crazy contraptions and bases we can build in the dangerous wilds. The Forest is currently available for PC and is rumored to have a PlayStation 4 port on the way). View full article
  3. Happy Halloween everyone! It's that wonderful time of the year when we grab a bowl of candy, kick back, and try to scare the pants off of ourselves. In the spirit of the holiday, we've put together a list of some effective horror games that will chill, thrill, and fill you with dread. Most of you are probably familiar with the Alien: Isolations, the Amnesias, the Outlasts, and more of the horror giants that dominate the genre, so this list will be made up of some of the lesser-known titles that still manage to hold some surprises. Without further ado, here's your definitive list of interesting indie horror games presented in no particular order! Duskers If there is one lesson that the movie Alien taught us it is that few things are as scary as average joes just trying to survive in space. Duskers takes that premise and runs with it in a gripping, survival horror roguelike. As a lone salvage operator using technology that would be right at home in a 70s sci-fi film, players must attempt to eek out a living by investigating wrecked ships. However, those ships can only be explored and salvaged using remote controlled drones. Players need to juggle the control of the drones with hacking into the wreck's systems and also avoiding the unknown terrors that lurk in the bowels of these seemingly abandoned vessels. As it progresses a mystery slowly unfolds in the form of corrupted ship logs and strange environments. Meanwhile, dangers threaten to kill off the drones, the only tools available to sustain the player. Drones must be controlled by typing and hopping between them can be an absorbing task. The tension and learning curve created by the purposefully clunky retro interface lends itself to the horror - it really does feel like you're watching as your drones are taken out one by one with hope fading as each one goes offline. Duskers is available on PC. The Last Door Are you a fan of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos? Do you have a soft sport for the works of Edgar Allen Poe? The Last Door draws upon both of those giants in the realm of literature to create its own rich contribution to the horror genre. The Game Kitchen, the devs behind The Last Door, have actually created two seasons of this niche horror title, each consisting of four episodes. The first season follows the investigation of Jeremiah Devitt after he receives a letter from an old school friend and journeys to visit - only to find that an insidious force is at work and seems to be targeting his old associates. The second season serves as a direct sequel to the first, but to explain more would be to provide spoilers. While The Last Door certainly possesses some shortcomings commonly associated with retro adventure games, the journey and surprising effectiveness of its growing sense of dread are well worth the effort to overcome the game design obstacles that occasionally rear their heads. The Last Door Seasons 1 & 2 are available on Andorid, iOS, and PC, both as standalone collections and in-browser. Lone Survivor Lone Survivor released back in 2012 as a side-scrolling survival horror title. It attempts to walk the line between stealth and combat while painting a gruesome, engrossing world that constantly invites the player to question the sanity of the protagonist and the veracity of the world. The story centers on a nameless man in a surgical mask who must survive in a monster-filled apartment complex with no apparent logic to its construction. Players explore the world, encountering baffling characters and disturbing scenes. The game isn't so much a tour de force journey as it is a lengthy soak in madness. Its atmosphere has a darkly hypnotic effect that beckons players into Lone Survivor's twisted depths. It can take a little while to feel the title's hooks, but give it a chance in good faith and Lone Survivor will reward persistence. Lone Survivor is available on PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, and Wii U. OverBlood We've talked about OverBlood before. To be honest, it probably doesn't belong on this list because it simply isn't that scary by today's standards. What it lacks in spine-tingling thrills, OverBlood more than makes up for in sheer entertainment value as a so-bad-its-good game. Admittedly, people who enjoy playing games that are so bad they transcend badness and come back around to being worth playing represent a very, very niche group. But, if that's the kind of thing that you're looking for - the Troll 2 of video games - OverBlood definitely possesses the hapless charm necessary for a great night of failed scares and amazing character moments. OverBlood tells the story of Raz Karcy, a man jettisoned from cryo containment only to find that he was never supposed to wake up. Mysteries unfold and friendships form as he begins to explore a seemingly abandoned research facility. OverBlood is available on the PlayStation One and PSN. The Forest While The Forest has been available for several years now, it is unique on this list in that it remains in Early Access on Steam. While many might be put off by the mere association of Early Access-ness, The Forest has both come a long way since its initial release and offers a unique horror experience. Players take on the role of a man who survives a plane crash on a remote island only to find that his son has been kidnapped by the cannibals that inhabit the island's underground caves and come out to hunt at night. A pretty straightforward set up, right? Things get complicated by the fact that The Forest is an open world crafting/survival game at heart. Players will need to survive in the wilderness, construct a base of operations, and learn to survive the hair-raising night attacks by the island's blood thirsty humans. The result plays like a fusion between Outlast and Minecraft. In fact, it's entirely possible to succumb to the island's ways and become a cannibal yourself and abandon the central rescue mission. I don't hear The Forest talked about much, but if you are put off by the fact that it remains in Early Access, keep an eye out for it to officially release sometime in the near future. The Forest is currently available in Early Access on PC and will be coming to PlayStation 4. View full article
  4. Happy Halloween everyone! It's that wonderful time of the year when we grab a bowl of candy, kick back, and try to scare the pants off of ourselves. In the spirit of the holiday, we've put together a list of some effective horror games that will chill, thrill, and fill you with dread. Most of you are probably familiar with the Alien: Isolations, the Amnesias, the Outlasts, and more of the horror giants that dominate the genre, so this list will be made up of some of the lesser-known titles that still manage to hold some surprises. Without further ado, here's your definitive list of interesting indie horror games presented in no particular order! Duskers If there is one lesson that the movie Alien taught us it is that few things are as scary as average joes just trying to survive in space. Duskers takes that premise and runs with it in a gripping, survival horror roguelike. As a lone salvage operator using technology that would be right at home in a 70s sci-fi film, players must attempt to eek out a living by investigating wrecked ships. However, those ships can only be explored and salvaged using remote controlled drones. Players need to juggle the control of the drones with hacking into the wreck's systems and also avoiding the unknown terrors that lurk in the bowels of these seemingly abandoned vessels. As it progresses a mystery slowly unfolds in the form of corrupted ship logs and strange environments. Meanwhile, dangers threaten to kill off the drones, the only tools available to sustain the player. Drones must be controlled by typing and hopping between them can be an absorbing task. The tension and learning curve created by the purposefully clunky retro interface lends itself to the horror - it really does feel like you're watching as your drones are taken out one by one with hope fading as each one goes offline. Duskers is available on PC. The Last Door Are you a fan of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos? Do you have a soft sport for the works of Edgar Allen Poe? The Last Door draws upon both of those giants in the realm of literature to create its own rich contribution to the horror genre. The Game Kitchen, the devs behind The Last Door, have actually created two seasons of this niche horror title, each consisting of four episodes. The first season follows the investigation of Jeremiah Devitt after he receives a letter from an old school friend and journeys to visit - only to find that an insidious force is at work and seems to be targeting his old associates. The second season serves as a direct sequel to the first, but to explain more would be to provide spoilers. While The Last Door certainly possesses some shortcomings commonly associated with retro adventure games, the journey and surprising effectiveness of its growing sense of dread are well worth the effort to overcome the game design obstacles that occasionally rear their heads. The Last Door Seasons 1 & 2 are available on Andorid, iOS, and PC, both as standalone collections and in-browser. Lone Survivor Lone Survivor released back in 2012 as a side-scrolling survival horror title. It attempts to walk the line between stealth and combat while painting a gruesome, engrossing world that constantly invites the player to question the sanity of the protagonist and the veracity of the world. The story centers on a nameless man in a surgical mask who must survive in a monster-filled apartment complex with no apparent logic to its construction. Players explore the world, encountering baffling characters and disturbing scenes. The game isn't so much a tour de force journey as it is a lengthy soak in madness. Its atmosphere has a darkly hypnotic effect that beckons players into Lone Survivor's twisted depths. It can take a little while to feel the title's hooks, but give it a chance in good faith and Lone Survivor will reward persistence. Lone Survivor is available on PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, and Wii U. OverBlood We've talked about OverBlood before. To be honest, it probably doesn't belong on this list because it simply isn't that scary by today's standards. What it lacks in spine-tingling thrills, OverBlood more than makes up for in sheer entertainment value as a so-bad-its-good game. Admittedly, people who enjoy playing games that are so bad they transcend badness and come back around to being worth playing represent a very, very niche group. But, if that's the kind of thing that you're looking for - the Troll 2 of video games - OverBlood definitely possesses the hapless charm necessary for a great night of failed scares and amazing character moments. OverBlood tells the story of Raz Karcy, a man jettisoned from cryo containment only to find that he was never supposed to wake up. Mysteries unfold and friendships form as he begins to explore a seemingly abandoned research facility. OverBlood is available on the PlayStation One and PSN. The Forest While The Forest has been available for several years now, it is unique on this list in that it remains in Early Access on Steam. While many might be put off by the mere association of Early Access-ness, The Forest has both come a long way since its initial release and offers a unique horror experience. Players take on the role of a man who survives a plane crash on a remote island only to find that his son has been kidnapped by the cannibals that inhabit the island's underground caves and come out to hunt at night. A pretty straightforward set up, right? Things get complicated by the fact that The Forest is an open world crafting/survival game at heart. Players will need to survive in the wilderness, construct a base of operations, and learn to survive the hair-raising night attacks by the island's blood thirsty humans. The result plays like a fusion between Outlast and Minecraft. In fact, it's entirely possible to succumb to the island's ways and become a cannibal yourself and abandon the central rescue mission. I don't hear The Forest talked about much, but if you are put off by the fact that it remains in Early Access, keep an eye out for it to officially release sometime in the near future. The Forest is currently available in Early Access on PC and will be coming to PlayStation 4.
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