Preview: The Forest brings cannibals and crafting to PS4

I don't want to alarm you, but the zombie apocalypse...it's more a matter or "if" than "when." Which means you better get ready. And how better to get ready than by playing a survival video game like The Forest, which will be coming to PlayStation 4 this year?

Well, actually, there probably are better ways. Especially since, as Creative Director Ben Falcone of Endnight explains, The Forest has no zombies. "The Forest is an open world, survival horror simulator," he says, "where you can build, survive, and also fight off this enemy threat that gets bigger over time. But we're not talking about zombies, it's cannibals.

"That was actually one of the main inspirations," he continues. "I like zombie movies, but I also like old Italian horror movies, and the Italians got tired of making zombie movies, so they started making cannibal movies. And now people are saying they're sick of zombie games, so we thought we'd be clever and make a cannibal game."

Despite it being about people who choose to eat flesh — as opposed to those who can't help themselves — The Forest actually does look like a zombie game. Specifically, the Dead Island series (well, the good ones, anyway). Though when asked if he thinks his first-person game is similar to that first-person shooter series, Falcone says, "Actually, I think it's similar to Minecraft. A realistic Minecraft. Every tree in the world can be cut down, and the enemies come out at night, like in Minecraft. I don't really think we're all that similar to Dead Island and other sandbox games. It's much more of a survival game than a shooter.

"What's also unique about it," he adds, "is our multiplayer. Especially on PlayStation, I don't see a lot of games like ours where it's co-op, but it's co-op where you not only have to defend your buddy, but also work together to build things." Which is just one of the things you can do if you play The Forest co-op (as opposed to on your own).

Though, of course, your buddy can also mess with you. Or, if you're Falcone, your wife and co-worker can mess with you. "What Anna likes to do is wait for me to step away," he says, motioning towards his wife, one of the game's developers, "then she comes over and builds a wall around me so I can't get out."

Now, if all of this sounds familiar, it may be because The Forest has been on PC for a while. In fact, all of the screenshots they sent us for this piece are from the PC edition; they didn't have any for the PS4 one yet. But while the games do look the same, Falcone explains that the PS4 edition isn't just a straight port of the PC game. "We've completely retuned the controls for a controller," he says. "The game has a lot of complex systems, but I think we've got it down. Watching people today , nobody's had any problems with the controls."

Now, as we mentioned, The Forest is somewhat inspired by Italian horror movies. Though it's also, Ben admits, inspired by an American TV show. "The set up for The Forest," he explains, "is that you survive a plane crash. And the game is definitely influenced by Lost. We loved Lost, and it's such a great premise for something like this. Though they are very different. There's no smoke monster, no polar bear.

"Though when we were working on building the PC version," he recalls, "and it was in early access, there would sometimes be big metal doors in underground caves, and they wouldn't open because we hadn't added what was in the other side yet. And people got really into speculating what was on the other side of those doors."

As for whether the PlayStation 4 version of The Forest will be as engaging as Lost — or Dead Island, or an Italian horror movie — well, that will have to wait until next year, when the game comes out. But if what we saw at PSX, and what Falcone had to say about it, is any indication, this might be the post-apocalypse training simulator we've been waiting for.

The Forest will be out in the second quarter of 2018.