Green Hell

  No matter how much you may want to go to the jungle, explore, discover an isolated tribe, and just survive on your wits and will, odds are you are never going to do it.  There is the travel, all the required shots, environmental dangers, and of course the real possibility of starvation and death.  Luckily, Creepy Jar has released Green Hell to consoles, so you don’t have to put yourself in harms way.  

  You head to the Amazon with your wife to reconnect with an isolated tribe.  The plan is to have your wife, the anthropologist, build a relationship with the tribe while you stay back in base camp and document the surroundings.  After almost a month in the jungle you are awakened by fearful cries from your wife over the walkie talkie.  You rush from your tent into the dark jungle but before you can find her, you trip and take a serious fall.  When you regain consciousness, you are lost in the jungle with no supplies and a spotty connection to your wife.  You must now not only survive this harsh environment, but also find your wife and find a way to escape.

  Like most survival games, there is a tutorial included in the game.  Once you pick your difficulty level, you can learn to play the game.  The tutorial will introduce you to the story, and the basics of gathering items, healing wounds, and crafting some of the introductory survival items.  Unfortunately, there is a major issue with the tutorial.  Once you complete the tutorial and view the cutscenes, you are sent to the main menu to start a new game.  And each new game makes you replay through the tutorial timeline, just without the hints.  This means you are spending time, redoing a section of the game that has no impact on play.

  Once the survival starts, the difficulty really kicks in.  This is not a simple game to stay alive in.  Not only do you have to stay hydrated, not get injured, build a camp, rest, and eat – but you also have to eat the right things.  You will not survive on bananas or grubs alone.  You have a smart watch that will show your different levels.  But you will have to experiment with the different food stuffs to see exactly what they contain.  And here in lays an n other problem with the title, and a large part of game play.

  According to the start of the story, this is a return trip for you to the jungle.  But it seems like you have no idea about the flora of the area.  There are only two or three plants that you actually know what they do.  This means that you have to eat everything to find out if it poisonous, cures ailments, or gives you energy.  If you are not careful you can dress a wound with poison or eat vegetation that can cure things that you are not suffering from, in essence wasting valuable supplies.  You also have little survival knowledge, so you have to learn how to build everything as you go.  You must make a basic spear before you can learn to make a stone spear.  It seems to be slightly random in which order you learn things.  I have played the same day several times due to death and have been given different “recipes’ each time.

  For the most part, the graphics in the game are good.  You feel like you are in the jungle with the soundscape all around you.  One of the issues that I found is with the lettering.  There are areas in which you have to follow a specific recipe that will appear on the screen.  If you don’t have the item, it will be written in red.  The combination of the color of the writing, the size of the printing, and the color of the background it is almost impossible to read what items you need.  Animals can just randomly spawn or despawn before your eyes.  This is frustrating when you are walking through an area that is clear and all of a sudden you get bit by a rattlesnake.

  Gameplay is very smooth.  Some survival games have so many options that they can be difficult to play on consoles with a controller.  Green Hell does a good job with the way that you cycle through your backpack, journal and check yourself for wounds.  The menu system is easy to pick up and doesn’t get in the way of fluid game play.  There is obviously a strong focus on survival, but there is also a story that needs to be explored.  How well you preform will dictate the ending that you see.

  Green Hell is available on Xbox, Play Station, and Steam.  It carries a price tag of about $25 on each platform.  The game may not be for those that are new to the survival genre.  Even with the difficulty settings, it can be a challenging title.  If you enjoy survival games and are tired of zombies and desert islands, this is one that you should check out.  The translation to console holds up and is a great option for those without a PC to play on. You can even take on the adventure with a friend in multiplayer mode.