Free Game Friday: Meg and Meg Tag Team The Endless Forest
Howdy and welcome to Nukezilla’s newest weekly article, Free Game Friday! Free games can be super awesome, but sometimes they can be…well, less than satisfactory. That’s why Megazell the “‘It’s Free or fuck it’ PC Gamer” (who runs an extensive list of free PC games over at Cheap Ass Gamer) and I have teamed up to evaluate a free game every week for you, the readers of Nukezilla. Our mission statement? To separate the good free games from the bad so you don’t have to! This week’s free game is…
The Endless Forest, developed by Tale of Tales for the PC. Now, some may call this a game, but others would be sorely disappointed by the actual amount of “game” there is in The Endless Forest. In a nutshell, you play a deer and run around interacting with the forest and other players. That’s sort of it.
But wait, it gets even more WTF. The only way to communicate with other deer or interact with the environment is with gestures and body language. You can nod or shake your head, make a deer call, bow, and a few other things, but there’s no chat window, no localized voice chat, nothing. Your avatar, which you can change the appearance of by interacting with things around you, is the only tool you have in this endless forest.
Before we started the game, the two of us registered our accounts. However, we did not get in-game usernames. Instead, we got to attach a symbol to our account. The symbol is the only way to identify someone else’s deer in The Endless Forest. We also started off as fawns because our accounts were brand new.
So after finding one another’s fawn avatar in-game (not helped by the fact that there were, like, twenty other fawns running around with miniscule symbols above their heads) and doing a bit of initial interaction with some other players, we sped off in a direction in the hopes of finding something interesting. Soon we found a particularly large tree.
Megazell: Oh shit, you hear that music?
Meagan: Yeah. It sounds ominous.
Megazell: Maybe Slenderman will come out. Oh, I think it’s coming from the tree.
Meagan: Oh, yeah, I think this is the Oak Tree point of interest.
Megazell: What does the Oak Tree do?
Meagan: A whole lot of nothing, I think. It’s got little holes in the base for you to run in and out of, though.
Megazell: Alright, let’s keep moving.
Meagan: Sure thing.
Megazell: That’s the problem with this game, is that I think it’s great for what it does. I think if you’re looking for a tranquil evening, and let’s say you have some kids or a spouse that’s not into violence, maybe they could run this game and have fun with just exploring it. On max settings it is very beautiful. With the detail turned all the way up, there’s a lot of stuff going on.
Meagan: Indeed, it’s a very pretty game.
Megazell: This is really an exploring game. You have to really be into it. I can get down with this every now and then. Like, probably a year ago was the last time I touched this game, so I’m okay with playing it right now. But I will probably not play this tomorrow.
So on we wandered, passing many idle players with colorful and interesting alternate skins for their avatars.
Megazell: Let’s run! Chun-chun, chica chun-chun, chica chun-chun-chun-chun.… We need some music or something.
Meagan: For real.
Megazell: Oh, hey, there’s a guy here with candles on his antlers. I think it’s another player.
Meagan: A Halloween-themed skin, maybe?
Megazell: He looks very serious. He must be one of the serious players here. And now he’s running away from me. I think he’s trying to call me a noob in deertalk.
We decided to pick a landmark on the border map and head towards it, hoping that might make the game more fun.
Megazell: Alright, continuing to the double doors. You know, this is one of those freeware games that people play and then they’re like, ‘This is why I don’t play freeware games!’. Okay, so these are the double door things?
Meagan: Well, they look more like statues, I think. Oh, yeah! We pray at these and get some kind of special power or something, I think.
Megazell: I wonder how long we’re supposed to do this for?
Meagan: I don’t know, but I’m starting to get a blue halo thing over my head.
Megazell: I hope we get laser fire.
Meagan: Yeah, laser fire would be bad-ass.
Megazell: Oh, you’re white now!
Meagan: I am! Cool!
Megazell: *gasp* I’m white now, and I got a chime! Now we are part of the master race!
Megazell: Okay, now we have to find another point of interest. You pick one.
Meagan: Okay, let’s head to this flower-looking thing over here.
Megazell: I’ll follow you. Activate speed mode! Dun-dun, duna-duna dun-dun…
Meagan: Fast travel!
Megazell: We lost our whiteness, by the way. Maybe we’re too far from it?
Meagan: Nah, I think the appearance changes only last for a certain amount of time.
Megazell: That blows. Oh, this spring looks nice! Let us pray. Or sleep. Or something.
Meagan: I think we’re supposed to drink the water and it does something – oh, shit! I’m a giant bat!
Megazell: Wha… fucking…give me some goddamn water! I want to be a dolphin! Ah, goddamnit, I’m a squirrel.
Meagan: Ah, man!
Megazell: Let’s see if I can go up a tree, though. If I can go up a tree this is awesome – oh shit. When I tried climbing the tree I blew up.
Meagan: Oh, I see. If you go outside this circle the change wears off.
Megazell: Give me some goddamn water. Shit. Oh shit, I turned into a republican! What the fuck?
Meagan: Now I’m a tiny bat. Weeeeee!
Megazell: Ah, you’re getting all these cool aerial things. I’m getting all this terrestrial bullshit. I wonder if the emoticons still work?
Meagan: I’m not sure if it does.
Megazell: Cool, they do. I just did a ribbit. Holy crap! This guy just turned into a baboon! No, he turned into a rock!
This kept us entertained for a few more minutes, but we decided to move on and check out more of the game. Megazell spotted a landmark on the map that looked like a headstone, so that’s where we headed next.
Megazell: Let’s go full speed action!
Meagan: This game is really pretty.
Megazell: It is. It’s one of those calming games.
Meagan: Oh, these must be the Ruins.
Megazell: Wow, it’s a big thing. Yeah, this is new. This was not here when I was playing a long time ago. So there are a bunch of cemeteries here. I want to see what happens when I kneel before them – ah, I’m not getting the option to kneel.
Meagan: Yeah, I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do here.
Megazell: Whoa, what was that?
Meagan: That noise?
Megazell: Yeah, what just happened?
Meagan: Oh, okay, I think I see. When you change appearances, you also get the power to change someone else’s appearance, I think.
Megazell: Oh, okay. But now my character’s scared. Oh, I see. The icons change at the bottom, so it’s like, this is supposed to be the area where we’re afraid of things.
Meagan: Oh, yeah, maybe.
And that was pretty much it. So, what did we think of our experience in The Endless Forest?
Megazell: See, I think this is a great execution of the game, but it’s so limited that I know a lot of people just won’t enjoy this.
Meagan: Yeah, it’s a very niche game.
Megazell: It’s a game for, like, aunts and uncles who don’t want the kids to fight, and they’re like, ‘Okay, I’ll buy you a video game, Johnny,’ and you’re like, ‘Oh, shit, I’ve got Call of Duty coming in, man!’ and then your aunt shows up with this on a USB and you’re like, ‘What the fuck?!’ It’s really not made for typical gamers.
Meagan: Yeah, I mean, it has a lot of the trappings of an MMO, but there’s no goal, there aren’t quests, there’s no health bar or anything like that.
Megazell: There’s no way to tell if you’re good at the game. Like, ‘Am I good at this or not?’ Which I think is a good idea. It’s a good game for people with really young children, maybe.
Meagan: It would be a good ‘my first MMO’ for a kid. It’s got some conventions like a map, a tool bar at the bottom, different ways to interact with things, and stuff like that. And really, I guess it’s a lot like Minecraft in the regards of it just being a big sandbox, except with less to do.
Megazell: Right, there is a lot less to do. In fact, your actions are very limited, which is part of the reason why it would not be considered a good game.
Meagan: Yeah, I guess I would call it more of an ‘experience’ than a ‘game’. I think that’s a fair way to describe it. I mean, calling it a “game” would leave a lot of traditional gamers really disappointed. There isn’t really even a way to communicate with other players. Like, you and I are conversing over Skype because in the game, there is no chat overlay, there’s no voice chat, you don’t even have a username to display. Everyone has a symbol that identifies them, and that’s it.
Megazell: Right. There’s no way to actually communicate here outside of the little emoticons, and that’s very limited. And that’s why it reminds me so much of kid games. Like, when my daughters play something like Marvel Superhero Squad or Transformers Bot Shots, they play these games and they’re able to see other players, but the only thing they can do is press emoticons. They can’t type or chat.
Meagan: Yeah, it’s a very safe environment and a good way for kids to start playing online games.
Megazell: I would even recommend it to, like, elderly people.
Meagan: Sure, there’s no way to be bad at this game.
Megazell: Exactly. There’s no pressure, there’s no little kid over your shoulder going, ‘Grandma! Get to that tree! What the fuck are you doing? Goddamn!’
Meagan: ‘You suck, Grandma!’
Megazell: ‘You went and lost all the fucking points, Grandma!’ And then Grandma’s like, ‘This is why I don’t play this shit! Johnny, get the fuck out of my house!’
Meagan: Poor Grandma.
Megazell: Here’s another thing I noticed. Since you’re a female, maybe you can look at it from this approach. Maybe games like this would make it easier for girls to get into games because there are very few ways that you can be harassed on here.
Meagan: Oh, sure. I mean, some games are better than others. But yeah, that’s something to consider.
Megazell: Say this game had, like, localized voice chat where you can hear the chat in your immediate vicinity. The minute people hear you’re a girl, they’re like, ‘Show me your boobs!’ or ‘Can we have sex?’ or ‘Are you dating?’
Meagan: I’m sure lots of women are turned off from games, or at least certain genres, because of that very reason.
Megazell: I could also see someone using this as a cushion, like, to learn how to play with WASD and the mouse controls, maybe.
Meagan: Definitely. It’s a really safe introduction to MMOs for someone who’s never played one before, if it’s not much of a game on its own.
We were able to contact Tale of Tales and get their take on The Endless Forest as well.
Megazell: What was your goal or desire in making The Endless Forest? Do you feel that you have reached that goal? If not, what else are you planning to add to it that is not already there?
Tale of Tales: We released the first phase of The Endless Forest a long time ago. Originally it was intended as a kind of MMORPG. And we were going to add things towards that goal. But under impulse from the actual players, we deviated from that course and prioritized elements that would benefit the game as it was being played (as opposed to how we envisioned it). We hope to maintain the Forest as long as possible. But we can’t really afford to spend a lot of time on creating new content.
And a video! It’s sort of long at almost 17 minutes, and we can’t take credit for it (that’s due to this guy), but we like to be thorough around here.
So there you have it. While seasoned MMO players may not get much out of The Endless Forest, it’s a perfect family-friendly stepping stone to introduce someone to online PC MMORPGs.
If you’d like to download the game, you can do so here.