GamingReview: Green Hell

Review: Green Hell

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Green Hell is the first title by Creepy Jar, a Polish studio comprised of industry veterans, and, after spending a good number of hours playing the game, I can definitely say that this game serves as a testament to their experience. Green Hell is a survival game set in the Amazon rainforest, which sounds like a great place to visit, but as you can expect, the Amazon isn’t really a welcoming place. I must say that before playing Green Hell, it had been quite a while since the last time that I played a survival game, but honestly, this was probably one of the best picks that I could’ve made to dive back into the genre

Green Hell not only offers a fully voice-acted main story mode, which follows the story of Jake Higgings, an anthropologist that has been studying a local tribe, but it also features an endless survival mode, as well as 7 different time-based challenges that focus on completing specific objectives. Besides that, more recently, the game has received the first of a three-part expansion that will serve as a prequel to the main story. Green Hell also supports co-op play with up to 4 players, both in Survival and Story mode. Despite leaving Steam’s Early Access back in September of 2019, the game’s continuous free updates not only speak of the game’s success, but also of the studio’s commitment to supporting their game post-launch. 

As a survival game, Green Hell has all it, from crafting, combat, building, farming, hunger and thirst, sanity, resource harvesting, exploration, a superb atmosphere, it has the whole package. With that said, Green Hell isn’t a fast-paced survival game, it’s very much slower than many of its peers. Green Hell is a far cry from games where you can simply fill up your hotbar with the required items for your survival, and then all you need to do is just spam food or medicine whenever you get into trouble. Green Hell is a lot more methodical than that, and I find that to be one of the biggest reasons as to why I like it so much. In a genre that’s been oversaturated for many years now, playing Green Hell felt like a breath of fresh air. However, truth be told, I can certainly see how some people might not enjoy this slower gameplay style, and that’s absolutely fine. 

Just so that you get an idea of what I mean when I say that it’s slower than its peers, let’s assume that you get a bruise on one of your arms or legs. To treat such a wound, you’d first have to inspect yourself to locate it, and then you’d have to open your backpack and drag whatever medicinal item you have over your wound. This is just a simple example that you’ll experience pretty early on. Things such as resource gathering can also be a slow and steady process, as often times you’ll have to keep going back and forth carrying resources with both of your hands in order to build something. On the other hand, something such as the process of using the coordinates of your smartwatch’s GPS and landmarks around you to figure out where you are on the map just adds an extra level of immersion to the game.

Still, one of the great things about Green Hell is that it doesn’t really have its own pacing, at least as far as the story mode is concerned, which is where I spent pretty much most of my time with the game. Instead, the game allows players to approach it however they see fit. Part of this is achieved thanks to the fact that the game isn’t an open world, it’s more of a few interconnected areas that you can go traverse at your own pace, as you gather the necessary equipment and tools to move forward. If you want, you can simply rush it, or you can take things at your own pace and delight yourself in the game’s hand-crafted world. 

The game doesn’t force you to settle down anywhere, you can just keep on moving forward and exploring, but there are obviously benefits to settling down and establishing a base of operations. There are numerous structures that you can build, each with its own unique function, from farming plots to water collectors and filters, traps, storage containers, furnaces and forges, and even shelters made out of mud thanks to the game’s modular building. It’s entirely up to you to decide how you want your stay in this hellish jungle to play out.

The developers have done a great job in creating a believable and immersive environment. Both in terms of visuals and audio, Green Hell is a wondrous achievement. From the sound of the leaves and the wind to the chirping of the birds, everything in Green Hell plays a role in setting up its ambience. Likewise, the story does a great job in keeping you hooked and craving for more. It is mysterious and intriguing, and there’s no telling what secrets and dangers lie waiting for you in the jungle. What could possibly convince you that a long term stay in the Amazon rainforest was a good idea? Well, I certainly I’m not going to spoil it for you, as the game’s surprises just keep on giving and are thus best experienced first-hand.

Despite everything, Green Hell definitely has its shortcomings. My biggest complaint about it is the fact that saving is directly tied to having access to a shelter. This is quite inconvenient, as you might find yourself having to unexpectedly leave while you’re playing the game and you’re far from your nearest shelter. There’s not even an auto-save feature, which means that if you die, you’ll go back to the last time you manually saved. Trust me, this can really mess you up, and I learned this the hard way. There I was, calmly building my first shelter, when suddenly a jaguar decides to pay me a visit. Needless to say, that jaguar had a fine meal that day, while I ended up losing more than an hour of progress. Not fun. In any case, this is something that you’ll have to get used to, but it unfortunately makes Green Hell a tough game to play in short bursts. 

Although the above is my biggest issue with the game, there are certainly other things that could have certainly been better implemented. For instance, the game only highlights things on the ground if your cursor goes over them, which can make it hard to find things such as sticks or leaves that are under the low foliage of the jungle. Meanwhile, although the combat is something that just simply works, I’m still not particularly fond of it. The fact that you can pretty much kill everything by just throwing a spear at the head just makes the game feel a lot trivial than it probably should be.

Nonetheless, as far as bugs go, I only encountered one which was kind of game-breaking. Basically, I wasn’t able to move according to the terrain, I was walking way above the ground, as if floating in the air, and I couldn’t go back to where I came from. This ultimately led to my demise, as I was unable to retrace my steps. Other than that, every now and then I did also find animals stuck on terrain.

Now, in terms of accessibility, Green Hell does a great job by not only presenting multiple difficulty options, but also by allowing players to create one of their own. Green Hell caters both to hardcore survival fans, by including things such as perma-death, as well as casual players. The different options allow you to disable things such as predators, hostile tribes, and even health loss. The developers have undoubtedly done a bang-up job in making sure that their game is as approachable as it can be, no matter what kind of player you are.  

It took me about 14 hours to complete the Story mode, but I did rush things a bit towards the end. Nevertheless, Green Hell is one of those games where you can easily spend more than a hundred hours, if you’d like to. Sure, you can absolutely just stick to the objectives while playing the story mode, but if you’re like me, if you love to explore the world around you at your own pace, then I’m sure that Green Hell will surprise you in numerous ways. This is mostly thanks to the fact that Green Hell takes place in a careful hand-crafted world.

If you’re a fan of survival games, no matter if hardcore or casual, then Green Hell will surely provide you with a gaming experience like no other. Despite a few minor complaints, Green Hell is tense, gorgeous, immersive, and even terrifying at times. This game ticks all the right boxes for me, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of survival games. I absolutely loved playing through the story mode and unravelling its mystery, and I can’t wait for the Spirits of Amazonia expansion to be fully released, so that I can dive into that. 

SUMMARY

+ Superb atmosphere
+ Enthralling story
+ Multiple game modes
+ Allows players to play at their own pace
+ Accessible
- A couple of bugs
- Manual saves only at fixed points
- Combat doesn’t add much

Davide Roriz
Just a random guy who enjoys writing about the games that he plays. Into cats, Warhammer, PC hardware, and pretty much all forms of media.

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