An open world game, where your main objective is to survive: the draw of such games, like The Forest, is clear.
Within a mere 6 months, the open survival horror game, The Forest, sold over 5 million copies. While horror survival games have been a mainstay for the gaming community for a while, discounting the success of this game would be a mistake– and it’s easy to see why now a sequel, titled the Sons of the Forest, is in the works.
Described as a living, breathing forest, players in The Forest are faced with varying environments, from expansive caves to underground lakes and, of course, forests. Part of the appeal is the ability to play with others, in an optional multiplayer mode, as you hack away at trees to build shelter and fires, all the while trying to evade enemies.
And those enemies are startling: genetic mutants that are nearly human-like in appearance, and threaten your very survival.
Filled with fast-paced action, a bit of strategy, and strong systems where you need to monitor your health, weapons, and navigate complex situations, it’s easy for me to see why The Forest is a stand out in the survival horror game genre– both for those on gaming laptops and for PlayStation 4 players.
But if you’ve already played The Forest and are waiting for a sequel, the good news is that there are many great games in 2021 that will give you an equally thrilling experience. Consider this your guide to the best games like the Forest.
What is a horror survival game?
Horror survival games are a popular genre both for console and PC gaming, typically rated at Teen or more often, Mature. These games combine the thrill of horror games and survival, sometimes in the form of strategy or even crafting your own materials.
Often immersive, with semi-open or open worlds, horror survival games like the Forest will leave you on the edge of your seat, trying to survive elements of the world, and often enemies in the form of mutants, the undead, or other enemies. Common themes include battling for not only your own survival but for the survival of the human race.
Horror games are focused on startling players, often with frightening themes, jump scares, and graphics.
Inspired by horror and science fiction literature and TV shows, they have evolved from simple puzzles or text-based games to ones with enhanced graphics, whether in a third or first-person perspective, which immediately plunges you into a terrifying situation.
There are many subgenres of horror games, with everything from narrative-driven games to psychological and reverse horror games. One of the most popular subgenres of horror games is action-horror games, like The Last of Us. Overall, horror games come in many shapes and sizes and are intended for mature audiences.
As is the case with horror games, survival games include a wide variety of games for PC and console. Almost always, survival games take place in open-world spaces and are situated in a space where one has to contend not only with enemies but also harsh weather conditions and other obstacles.
One of the most popular games in this genre– Minecraft– embodies what has become quintessential to survival games, which is crafting. Players are tasked with fighting for their survival by making use of resources in the natural environment. This often includes hunting or scavenging for food, building fires, and erecting some form of shelter.
Unlike horror games, purely survival-based games are less likely to have exact linear storylines or even definitive ends to the game. Some survival games like to have a sandbox environment, where your goal is to not only survive but also build space for yourself.
Horror Survival Games
It follows, logically, that horror survival games like The Forest combine elements of both horror games and survival games. They are also very much in overlap with action-adventure games– which may explain how immersive they feel.
While the horror aspect is strong from concept and environment, players are also forced to react quickly, with fast action situations, and, at the same time, make use of scarce resources to survive and fend for themselves.
The Resident Evil series is credited for bringing horror survival games into popularity, and since then, the genre has exploded to include shooter games, as well as multiplayer options. During what some classify as the Golden Era, other popular games that continued to push popularity include the Silent Hill series and the Doom series.
The main, and exciting trend now, focuses on open world immersion, with less linear gameplay, online or multiplayer modes, and increasingly startling graphics.
What are the best games like The Forest?
The best games like The Forest are ones that combine an immersive open-world experience, graphics, a strong horror undercurrent, and elements of survival that force you to rely on your environment.
For this list, I select the best games in 2021 that, collectively, provide the survival, intensity, and overall experience for fans of the Forest. Some of these games are very well known, but it’s possible you’re sleeping on a few of these titles. Each brings something unique to the survival horror genre and are my picks for the best games like The Forest in 2021 and beyond.
Maid of Sker
Maid of Sker is my first pick for the best games like The Forest in 2021 and is a standout for its setting and overall theme. Described as part psychological horror and part gothic horror, Maid of Sker takes you into an isolated hotel that is set in 1898.
Inspired by Welsh folklore, this hotel is the sight of a haunting following the horrific events of a family driven into piracy and even torture. The historical and supernatural elements are strong as you navigate this first-person game, with a wicked plot and well-crafted graphics.
On PC, the graphics are stunning with 4K renders (which can also be enjoyed with enhanced settings for PS4 Pro and Xbox One X).
Sound engineering is part of the experience too, with haunting sounds whenever you even bump into an object–which adds to the terror of trying to avoid your own demise. There are even Welsh hymns that provide haunting melodies to really add to the atmosphere of horror.
What makes this stand out most, though, is how Maid of Sker is able to braid horror, survival, and even narrative, with a distinct setting and a feeling that will stay with you after you play. A winner of the 2020 TIGA Game Awards, this game is available for Xbox One, PS4, PC, and Switch.
House of Ashes
House of Ashes is a to be soon released game, and easily makes the list for the best survival horror games for 2021. Unlike others on my list, it’s also available for nearly every platform–which includes not only PC, Xbox One, and PS4 but even as one of the first set of games for the new Playstation 5.
The house of ashes sets you in a military branch, hunting for chemical weapons in an Arabian desert, and set amongst ruins of a Sumerian temple. That alone is compelling enough, but the storyline trickles in horror as you search, blending in supernatural elements as you realize there is something more than weapons at hand.
Increasingly disturbing events force players to fight for their survival and also make critical decisions–blend quick action strategy, and a convoluted labyrinth of ancient foes, difficult terrain, and chilling settings.
This all comes from the same gaming studio that brought Little Hope and Man of Median to life. Learn More Here, or Pre Order through GameStop.
Resident Evil: Village
I’d be remiss to make a list of the best survival horror games like The Forest if I didn’t mention the Resident Evil series, which arguably began the entire genre, and is why this gaming genre is enjoyed from gaming chairs across the country. In fact, the game is so popular that it’s inspired by feature films, TV shows, and even comic books and novels.
The Resident Evil series, which is arguably the most popular video game series of its kind, is a Japanese-based horror survival game (also known as Biohazard) that centers around zombie outbreaks and includes both third-person and first-person shooters games.
While older Resident Evil games are more traditionally based on survival horror, since Resident Evil 4, shooting has become the main feature.
Most games in the series take place in Racoon City, which appears to be set somewhere in the Midwest in the United States. There are recurring characters, and a consistent theme of zombies and combating a deadly virus.
In the latest rendition, set to be released in May 2021, the eighth Resident Evil was with realistic graphics and equally intense settings, featuring a new storyline with characters Ethan Winters and his wife Mia, as well as captain Chris Redfield. You’ll explore two main locations: an isolated Eastern European village, as well as a horrifying castle.
The latest Resident Evil is available on Playstation 5 and 4, as well as Xbox Series X and Xbox One. PreOrder Here.
Looking for a survival-heavy-based game like The Forest, with a slightly less emphasis on the horror part? It’s rare to find a console, PC, Mac, and mobile game that fits the bill, which is in part why one of my best games in 2021 is Rust.
Available for console, but also as an app for download via Google Play and the Apple Store, this mobile and console game is surprisingly immersive, and manages to give substantial gameplay but allows you to play on the go. The app allows you to coordinate with teams in multiplayer mode, set off traps, and receive updates–meaning you can stay engaged no matter where you are.
The game, which includes regular updates, is multiplayer only, so it isn’t the best option for someone who likes single-player mode, but the dynamic community around the game is part of what makes it so enjoyable.
The main goal is to survive, by teaming up and scavenging for materials all the while fending off wild animals and other players.
With a strong crafting element, open world, and more there’s plenty to like–and still enough thrill, that, while it doesn’t fit quite into the horror genre, it should still appeal to fans of the adrenaline-inducing The Forest. Buy Here.
7 Days to Die
Perhaps one of the most famous games of the survival horror game genre, aside from Resident Evil, is 7 Days to Die, with over a million copies sold to date. I love this game especially for a dynamic open world and unique crafting– all packed with thrilling first-person shooter gameplay, a bit of horror, and plenty of combat.
7 Days to Die, in many ways, refuses to stick to one genre, with a strong RPG/role-playing gameplay, character development, horror, and survival all into one. While one of the older games on my list, 7 Days to Die certainly deserves a spot for all it provides in a single game.
Set in the backdrop of a devastating nuclear Third World War, in a fiction section of Arizona, players are forced to ward off invading zombies all while trying to seek shelter, craft, and find innovative ways to survive. Interestingly, you can even pursue farming gameplay as part of your survival.
Available both in single-player and multiplayer modes, it’s easy to see why this game remains popular, and will likely one day be labeled as a true classic. 7 Days to Die is available on Windows, Mac, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Buy Here.
Nearly all horror survival games like The Forest take place on land–which is why I love a twist on the narrative, with games like Subnautica.
Subnautica is less horror, more action–but a solid contender for best games like The Forest for how unique it is, and how you can still get a thrilling experience, in a different package. I also love that it’s more replayable than some games in its genre, with several gameplay modes, including survival mode, freedom mode, hardcore mode, and even creative mode.
You play as a survivor from a distant oceanic planet and explore a stunning open world, which includes two main islands and 24-hour sunlight cycles. Set in the 22nd century, you’re tasked with surviving amidst a devastating bacterial outbreak and sea creatures seeking to kill you.
Available for Windows, Mac, Xbox One, and Switch, this bestselling game even is compatible with Virtual Reality headsets. Buy Here.
Evil Dead rounds out my list for best games like The Forest, and this one, as opposed to my previous pick, lands quite comfortably in the traditional horror survival game genre. Se to be released in 2021, Evil Dead will be available for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4, Windows, and Switch.
The game is inspired by the Evil Dead horror films and is especially appealing to anyone wanting to play with others. Gameplay will have multiplayer options to both plays against each other or work together.
While specific details are still coming, from the teaser trailer, it’s clear that this game will be filled with shooting combat, immersive sound and graphics features, and plenty of thrilling hours of gameplay. The game is also set to involve several different locations, including a remote cabin, as well as over 20 unique weapons. Learn More Here.
Answer: Within the survival horror games genre, The Forest is fairly acclaimed and most players feel it is worth giving it a try. Especially recommended for consoles, the PlayStation 4 version offers plenty to explore, an immersive open-world experience, and a strong survival element.
If you’re looking for a scare, The Forest also manages to pack in some great horror. Overall, it’s a good bet for PS4.
Answer: The Forest is available for Windows, and requires just Windows 7 (or above) to run. You’ll also need 4GB memory, and an Intel Core 2
Quad CPU or better. In this way, The Forest is not a demanding game to run, no matter your gaming setup.
Answer: All told, The Forest offers a nice challenge for most players and fans of the horror survival game genre. It’s hard in the sense that it can take some getting used to, especially in terms of navigation.
Some players, for instance, find the open-world less intuitive to explore than competing games. However, in terms of gameplay, it does offer a nice level of challenge, without being overwhelming–and is best experienced with great gaming audio.
The Forest is truly a standout in the horror survival game genre, but there are many games like it so you can get the best experience anytime.
And if you want to enhance your experience even more, and you’re playing on a laptop, making sure you have the best gaming keyboard to navigate your way through the open world.