Green Hell might look like a regular survival game, but it so vastly different from what we’ve played before that it might spawn a new subgenre.
If we take Green Hell apart, we’ll see that it’s made up of known things. It’s an FPS, and we’ve played that before. It’s a survival game, and we’ve done that in other games as well. It’s all about crafting the necessary items from what we find in nature, and we definitely played something along those lines in the past few years.
So, what makes Green Hell different from everything else? Most likely, it has to do with design and concepts, but most of all it’s a sort of impending doom feeling that looms at all times. It’s not possible to pinpoint what keeps the players on edge, but it’s most likely a combination of multiple factors.
At this point, I’m sure that some of you will throw some names at the screen, of games that you’ve played before and which sound similar. I’m here to tell that’s not the case and to explain why. You won’t feel like you’re playing something familiar, even if the gameplay elements are not something we haven’t seen before.
Surviving at any cost
These type of games in which you must survive with the resources you find in the wild are only as good as their ingredients. In other words, the only limit will be the imagination of the creators and their ability to add useful things and combinations.
Even if the game is still in Early Access, Green Hell is and feels complex enough already. I have no idea if the developers are planning to add even more content or if they are focusing on the single-player campaign. Even if they stop and leave just the existing content, there is still so much stuff that I doubt people are going to want more.
On the other hand, getting more items and combinations will only add variation and unpredictability, two features that any game needs. And players will find that there is an abundance of the two in Green Hell.
The best way to play Green Hell is to imagine what you would do. It’s not a good idea to wonder what the game wants from you. Granted, if you follow your couch instincts, you’re probably going to end up dead. But the good news is that unlike real life, in the game you can learn from fatal mistakes. And believe you me, you’re going to learn a lot of stuff.
So, what are the basics of survival? Water, shelter, and food. This is pretty much it, and everything else is just fluff to make you comfortable. If you just take care of these needs, you’re going to stay alive, at least on short-term. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and let’s see what the story background for the game is.
Is also a single player game
You might have noticed that I mentioned the fact that it’s also a single player game, and that is definitely one of the things that will set Green Hell apart from what you’ve been playing until now.
The player takes on the role of an anthropologist (I think) that’s trying to study, along with his girlfriend, one of the few lost tribes of the Amazon. You remain at base camp while she tries to gain the trust of the tribe. After a few weeks, something goes wrong; you hear her asking for help over the radio, followed by a deadly silence. You run to help.
This is where the short tutorial ends, and it’s pretty much the entire single player portion available to users, at least in this phase of development. A more comprehensive open world scenario dubbed Survival is left available to users, as they try to figure out how to survive in the thick and deadly Amazonian Jungle.
I don’t know how far the developers from Creepy Jar are going to push the storyline, but from what they’ve shown us until now I’m guessing that there is a much bigger story that’s left to be told. And that can only be a good thing. A survival game with no backstory would be a much less interesting endeavor.
Build and build again
As was saying earlier, the first concern should be water. The main character wears a handy watch that tells him when to eat when to sleep, and when to drink water. It also acts as a compass, and it shows precise coordinates.
Just like in real life, water is essential, and you also have to keep in mind some of the sources are not going to be clean. Until you can get a fire going to boil the dirty water you find, you will have to rely on clean streams, fruits, and coconut water.
With very few exceptions, pretty much everything you find will has at least one certain use. Among the most versatile are sticks, ropes, rocks, and coconuts. These three alone will keep you alive, barely. After you feel that you have enough resources, you can think about either building your own shelter, or find something natural or manmade.
Since the map is not procedurally generated, all the map markers are in the same place and should be easy to find if you start again. There are lots of caves, some safer than others, some humanmade structures, and a few other landmarks.
If you don’t find any of these (although it shouldn’t be all that difficult since it’s not a large map), you can simply make a bed of palm leaves and a fire. It should do in an emergency.
Once you get a grip on what you have to do, you can start exploring in a much more meaningful manner. There are various recipes scattered all over, and you can learn a lot of new stuff. For the most part, you’re not going to die if you just pay attention.
Make sure that you always look where you step as snakes are a big danger (but also a great food source), check your watch for coordinates so that you don’t lose your basecamp, avoid bees, and take care of wounds and other problems as soon as possible.
In Green Hell, I mostly died from fall damage, snake bites, and infection. I generally avoided eating unknown stuff, with a single exception, some small orange fruits that grow close to the ground. The other two relevant dangers are the natives and jaguars. For the most part, the natives will leave you alone if you go around and keep your distance.
As for the jaguars, I never saw one, but I heard them a couple of times. I was so enthralled by the gameplay that it scared the daylight out of me. I love that even if it’s still in heavy development, it already shows character.
I don’t usually cover graphics in games that are not finished, but in the case of Green Hell, I have to say that they’ve done a great job, at least until now. It looks terrific, with lots of vegetation, muddy surfaces, and proper physics. The jungle feels alive, and you never have the impression that you’re alone. In this case, it’s going to keep you on edge.
I also have to say that it’s not a perfect game, and its biggest problem is balancing. The most relevant aspect is the food. Generally, people don’t need to eat all that often, and it’s not reflected properly in the game. We have to drink lots of water, but the food is not an issue.
Green Hell is definitely something that I will monitor in the future, and I advise you to do the same if you want to play something fresh and exciting.