Developer: Creepyjar, Forever Entertainment S. A.
Publisher: Creepyjar, Forever Entertainment S. A.
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on PC via Steam)
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 08/10/20 (18/08/18 on PC)
A code was provided for review purposes.
To play any game that is both daunting and frustrating, yet encouraging and achieving is mind-boggling to me. I didn’t think I’d enjoy Green Hell, and to tell you the truth, I hate and love it. Hours and hours of gameplay in and I feel a rollercoaster of emotions. Allow me to explain.
Green Hell is a survival sim that puts your psychological strength to the test, in a brutal open-world jungle inhabited with death and danger. It’s 2020 in a game.
The game opens with you, Jake, on a returning exhibition with your wife Mia looking to connect with the lost tribe Yabahuaca. This is introduced via the tutorial level, and is good at showing you the mechanics of the game and the controls. You’re here because Mia is looking to seek out this tribe to find out more about their excellent immunity to disease and life without modern medicines.
However, something goes wrong; Jake wakes up after just over a month in the Jungle with Mia calling through the radio, with no answer. It’s time to find Mia!
Now there’s a poignant reason behind going to look for what is essentially a closed-off tribe, but I won’t spoil it. The story unfolds really well as you explore. I’ve not played any survival games before, or at least none that I’ve found engaging enough to continue playing, until now.
Naturally, things don’t go so well. You wake up with nothing but your backpack and the gifted solar watch from Mia, that’s it! You have to channel your inner Ray Mears and get crafting, use rocks to create sharper rocks, bows, bandages, fires, shelters and more to survive!
Rock + Stick = Axe
This game has so many mechanics designed to create the most realistic survival experience around; wounds need to be tended and bandaged; your energy levels need to be replenished with food, water and sleep. You need fire to cook food and some form of sanity when alone in the jungle, don’t eat the raw mushrooms! Food even spoils if kept too long in your backpack.
In my first couple of hours of the play-through, I died of food poisoning, starvation, venom and dehydration, and each time you restart to the last saved point. Unless you turn on “real death” and then that’s it, game over. Oh and watch out for the wild animals too!
This was so frustrating to start, I couldn’t figure out where to go or what to do. Slowly I realised I could capture rainwater in coconut shells if left them out in the rain, that’s hydration sorted. I can wash in the rivers, create bandages from leaves, cook frog meat and other animals by my fire, chop down trees and build huge shelters to keep me safe and allow me to save the game by sleeping and resting.
You get so caught up in this game, you forget where you’re going and end up getting bitten by a snake, it’s tedious, but also exciting, every reload of the save is different. I burnt through 100% battery on the Switch before I realised I needed a break and to the food of my own.
Whilst I thought the environment looked great on the Switch, it looks 100% better on a larger display. This game was designed for luscious graphical settings. The world is vast and on a small screen it’s often difficult to make out the smaller items in the rucksack, or craft an item and keep an eye on the world whilst the screen is engulfed in those mechanics. A few times I’ve missed where I’ve placed something on the ground because I can’t quite see it.
Playing this on a Switch probably isn’t the best way to experience this incredible title, I’ve seen some of the videos and screenshots from PC, and it looks so much better.
Controlling the game was probably my biggest issue here, especially on the Switch, there are too many smaller items that, on such a small screen, make it frustrating. Movement of the character, swinging your weapons, climbing are all ok. Still, when you get into the nitty-gritty like placing objects together to make new ones, or removing stacks of mushrooms because they’ve spoiled, you can accidentally select the wrong item.
Besides the beautiful graphics and the frustrating controls on the Switch, the audio is luscious. Headphones in and you’re in the Amazon, the voice acting is on point, and the emotion behind the words is poignant. I felt connected to their journey through the storytelling.
This review has taken me a little longer than expected to write. Mainly because I’ve progressed slowly and carefully through the game. I’ve visited the vast rainforest, hunted, died, survived, swam, even throwing rocks at coconuts to collect their shells. This all takes time and it’s just so satisfying.
I can’t recommend this game enough if you’re into survival sims, but I would recommend it on a bigger screen. The smaller display does this game no justice.
Still, Bear Grylls got nothing on me.
Rapid Reviews Rating
Green Hell can be purchased for the Nintendo Switch via the eShop here