I’ve dabbled in the survival genre over the years, but I’m more fascinated with the crafting systems than actually surviving, which promptly leads to my death. Joining the Minecrafts and Don’t Starves of the world is Among Trees, a chilled out forest survival game by Fjord Interactive that recently entered Early Access. This is a survival game for those that favor relaxation over intensity.
Among Trees is a cel-shaded, finely crafted survival game that uses the soothing nature setting to ease the player into a vast forest to survive. The nature of this game is caring for the classic Hunger/Temperature/Health and Exhaustion meters with food, medical attention and sleep. Foraging items to craft new items uses a standard progression, but expanding your cabin and expanding your tool set is the immediate goal, with more story elements to be added in later. Scavenging wood planks and rocks to craft an axe is standard fare, but is still just as satisfying here. I found my excitement building as I explored a new cave or found a dilapidated building, if only to see what new resources I’d find.
The aesthetic is what makes Among Trees stand out. The soundtrack is full of deep, calming tones, together with a perfectly mixed ambience of nature sounds. These nature accents are directional as well, adding auditory cues to use when exploring. The art style is cel shaded simplicity, giving items rounded, soft visuals that pop with color. Any single screenshot could rightfully be framed and mounted on your wall. Dynamite lighting and shadow effects emphasize the natural beauty. Seeing the light shine through the trees, or my own shadow against the running water of a creek was breathtaking.
The gameplay itself is still very basic, with only a few cabin expansion points and few things to build but the current state is a fantastic proof of concept. When writing this, I found it difficult to put Among Trees down. I kept saying things like, “Okay let’s go one more day, I want to see what’s over that cliff.” The “one more run” hook dug into me quickly.
Among Trees features several modes including an explore mode, survival mode and hardcore mode. This can appeal to the casual or hardcore alike. I stuck to middle survival mode and still managed to get mauled by a bear. Speaking of bears, they are ferocious and should be feared. One bear in particular moves quick and will give chase if you dilly-dally too long. As I struggled this encounter, the music shifted from ominous to damn near horrifying. In the end, I was left bloodied but alive.
Among Trees takes the classic survival game but focuses on the nature of wilderness. The forest setting adds a calming aura making exploring a delight. The action rarely ramps up, even in moments of starvation or bleeding. Among Trees’ content is still finite but the base is well developed. With some time, this could be a favorite survival game for those who want to keep the stress level low.
Among Trees is available for PC in Early Access on the Epic Game Store.
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