The jungle may seem like an essential destination on your backpackers’ journey-of-self-exploration itinerary. It conjures images of vegetation twisting in on itself as dappled sunlight squeezes through the gaps in the thick foliage, the cackles of rainbow-coloured birds, the monkeys that you think want to be your friends but really just want to steal your iPhone.
But after a while, reality deposes your romantic notions. You wake up each morning covered in leeches, that cut you picked up a couple of days ago is starting to go green and smell like cheese, and at night you’re convinced you hear some kind of chanting deep in the verdant abyss.
That’s the kind of jungle experience that Creepy Jar’s free-roaming survival game Green Hell dumps you into - clammy, claustrophobic, and endlessly hostile. After a year of hacking its way through the undergrowth of early access, and five huge updates on, version 1.0 of Green Hell has now launched on Steam.
If you’re a grizzled survivor of survival games, or have been playing Green Hell in early access, you’ll be somewhat prepared for its ruthless gameplay loop. You’ll need to hunt and craft to survive, while manually checking your skin for signs of infection, insects and cuts you may not have noticed.
If you can feel an infection coming on, you’ll need to scour the jungle for curative ingredients before it spreads through your body. But few things out there are safe to eat in their basic state. Most water is filthy and filled with parasites until you boil it, raw meat needs cooking, and camps and fires will be vital to staving off the jungle’s threats.
Then there are the psychological effects that the jungle has on you. Disorientation and your own dwindling sanity are as much of a threat as the crocodiles and malaises; even your walkie-talkie - through which Mia, your loved one, pleads for your help each night - becomes a source of uncertainty as you begin to feverishly question what’s real and what isn’t.
With version 1.0, Green Hell introduces a full story mode, evolving into a riveting psychological thriller. As you try to track down Mia, you’ll be exploring the depths of the jungle as well as your own mind. You’ll come into contact with a mysterious tribe, while battling inner demons that lead you on vibrant psychedelic journeys filled with cryptic imagery and hidden meaning.
Harsh though it may be, Green Hell looks beautiful, brimming with a diversity of vibrant flora and fauna that you’ll need to familiarise yourself with. The environment is always changing, with new water sources forming when it rains, and different animals appearing based on the day/night cycle. If you’re too ruthless a hunter, you can even wipe out certain species in an area if you’re not careful.
The best bit is that the game’s independent developer Creepy Jar refuses to rest, even after the game’s release. Work is already underway on a free co-op mode, for example, which will let up to three other players join you in the jungle.
Green Hell is an ongoing journey that beckons ardent survival game fans to test their mettle in the most lush and vicious of environments. Just remember to pack your mosquito spray.
Green Hell is out now on Steam.