To be clear, I don’t typically care much for survival games. I’m the easily stressed sort who gets burned out fairly quickly. But Among Trees is looking to be one of the few I can get into. It’s beautiful and has a peaceful, relaxed approach. Plus, you can save your game and don’t have to start over if a bear chews your face right off.
Into the woods
Among Trees starts you off with no plot and no context. You’re a person. In the woods. You don’t want to die in the woods, so you better get going. There aren’t any arrows pointing you at what you need to do or where you need to go. The only thing nearby are fir planks and sticks you can gather. Oh, and a big, ol’ unfinished cabin that tells you how many fir planks and sticks you’d need to fix it up. Your cabin always appears as a small icon in the distance, too, so getting lost and not making your way back isn’t something that can happen.
My point is that, even though it doesn’t have a big sign show up on the screen, you’re still told what to do right away. But you’re also rather hungry and are going to need to jump on that. Once you build the cabin, all you have is a roof over your head, a small box for storage, and a bed to sleep in (those must have been some sticks you found.) The main way you progress in Among Trees is to expand the cabin with materials. Initially, you’ll be able to make a crafting room, storage room, and kitchen. But you’ll need stuff.
This requires going out and looking for more supplies, such as rope and wire cable. As you’re in an unmolested forest, that means you’re going to have to do some looking. Luckily, it isn’t too hard to find traces of old camps where you can find all sorts of stuff. Eating is trickier, as you’ll need to subsist on mushrooms until you get your kitchen built. Thankfully, most of the local fungi aren’t poisonous — Among Trees tells you if they are.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep
Once you’ve hit a few of these sites and grabbed some moss from tree stumps, you can make your crafting room, which is where everything starts coming together. You can make nails and bolts with metal wire and steel pipes you find, plus you can make an ax for chopping down trees, which will give you all the planks you need to build other important things, plus sticks for cooking.
The cooking room is the real lifesaver, though. You add sticks to the furnace, then throw your mushrooms or what-have-you into the pot on top. And then you don’t have to worry about starving to death! It was at this point that my pulse slowed down and I stopped worrying. Suffice to say, a lot of the stress in Among Trees vanishes once you don’t have to worry much about food anymore. You can craft medkits if a bear hurts you, too.
Oh, yes, there are bears. The game isn’t crawling with hostile wildlife, though and you can sneak in the grass if you come across some unfriendly neighbors. The game does include a Zen mode, which removes bears for a more relaxed experience.
The visuals in Among Trees are rather striking. The game is simple, but the colors are gorgeous and the overall aesthetic is really something. It’s easy to zone out and wander around just taking in the sights. Plus, you can choose from three difficulties at the start, so people who want to have a nice, relaxing survival game can enjoy their time here without issue. Overall, I find the game really enjoyable, and am looking forward to seeing how it branches out.