|Platforms||Oculus/Meta Quest 2(Reviewed), Valve Index, HTC Vive, Rift, Windows Mixed Reality|
|Release Date||April 7th, 2022|
Green Hell is a game I had heard about through various press releases, but to be upfront, I’m not the biggest fan of survival games. I’ve dabbled and put some serious time into games like Ark: Survival Evolved. Then I acquired a Quest 2 earlier this year and became interested when I learned that Green Hell was coming to VR headsets. Hours later, Green Hell VR can be one of the most challenging and most immersive experiences in VR, but it is a very accessible one for people new to the genre.
Spiritual Content: In Green Hell, players will encounter hostile tribes of indigenous people in the amazonian jungle. Scenes depict these tribespeople dancing and chanting around the fire. During your journey, you may experience various totems and other objects made of bones and animal parts representing their culture, which also falls under disturbing imagery.
Violence: During the game, you must make weapons such as axes, spears, and bows. You’ll encounter dangerous creatures like jaguars, snakes, and many more dangerous animals that you must defend yourself against. Hostile tribes also populate the jungle and will aim to kill players on sight.
Drugs/alcohol: In Green Hell, beware of what you try to consume. Some of them cause drug-like effects. Tobacco is also a resource that players can collect and use to craft things.
Language: The words “d*mn” and “s**t” are heard in the dialogue.
Sexual Content/nudity: The tribes that reside in the jungle wear loincloths. Aside from the clothes, they are primarily nude but painted head to toe.
Other Negative Content: Players will suffer from mental and physical illnesses in the game. Food poisoning will have you vomiting. Players must pop boils on their bodies and heal other injuries. A low sanity meter will have hostile tribespeople appear that aren’t there.
Frustration is an emotion I became very familiar with when I dipped my toes into the survival genre, so I expected to re-acquaint myself when playing Green Hell. I did not expect to find a story mode that would walk me through all of the challenges I would face in this VR experience. Comparable to Firewatch, the story of Jake and Mia is one that I can place on the head of a family member and tailor the difficulty to their liking. It taught me everything I needed to know to survive in the primary sandbox experience that I’m sure players across all platforms have immersed themselves in.
On the topic of immersion, Green Hell VR excels in bringing me into its world—which I believe is the whole point of gaming in VR. My highlight of the game was those first few moments in which I was learning essential tools for survival. For the first time, I had to make tools and build a fire by hand instead of sorting through menus and hitting a few buttons. I had to jam a piece of rock into a stick to make the ax, and I needed dry leaves and flint to spark the fire. Those tasks are a great way to ease people who may or may not be familiar with the genre into the process of survival.
For those more familiar with VR gaming specifically, Green Hell VR takes notes from one of the greatest on the platform—Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners. The UI and management of all your equipment are pulled right from Skydance Interactive’s banger of a video game. You’ll be reaching for your radio and journal the same way you did those actions for your flashlight and journal in TWD. Sorting through your backpack, consuming food, and healing work the same way. With Saints & Sinners being one of the first games I played on the Quest 2, Incuvo taking what worked so well and adapting it for Green Hell was a wise move. Not only did that ease the onboarding process for me, but I expect that it will be for seasoned VR players as well.
A few key elements stood out to me when surviving the jungle. The first was the journal, used mainly for maps and objective lists in most video games. In Green Hell VR, the journal is where I would find any new crafting recipes that I would learn. It was a clever decision to put these in a journal rather than a potentially cluttered pop-up menu. Next is the watch, which monitors your vitals such as health, stamina, hunger, thirst, sanity, and other ailments. All of that is easily monitored by looking at my wrist and tapping the face of the watch, which isn’t far off from how people interact with their smartwatches in real life. Both of these mechanics increase immersion and null the act of sifting through menus upon menus as we do in most survival video games.
Again, I appreciate that Green Hell did not throw me to the wolves like others in the genre did in the past. Playing this game felt much like learning to ride a bike. For example, I nearly died the first time I encountered a snake and fell to my death when trying to cross a log over a considerable drop. I eventually conquered those things after dealing with them a few times. Those examples are the smallest of challenges that players will face in the game and pale in comparison to dealing with sickness, sanity, and physical ailments. Hunger and thirst are child’s play in Green Hell, and while kind in the onboarding process, it reminds you that you must crawl before you walk and walk before you can run.
What makes Green Hell genuinely unique is the act of dealing with both physical and mental damage. You’ll face hallucinations of hostile tribespeople when your sanity tanks. You’ll have to check your limbs for boils, lacerations, and more, requiring different remedies to be healed. You can catch sicknesses such as a fever, which you can cure much as you would in real life by getting rest and drinking plenty of water. Players may also deal with parasites, such as leeches that you must pull from your skin. Coping with these challenges can be graphic but become easier to manage once you figure out what is needed to combat them. At least I didn’t get both heatstroke and dysentery within the first five minutes of playtime—looking at you, Seven Days to Die.
As it should, the presentation stands out in Green Hell VR. It isn’t always the prettiest I’ve seen in VR, but I found myself staring up and down at waterfalls while hearing the birds and other forest creatures bring this world to life. The primary issue I have is the checkpointing system in the story. On this platform, I would like saves to be more frequent, but the story mode also exists beyond it specifically. There were times in which I had to stop playing, only to go put on the headset and have to retread significant things I’d already done. Lastly, It was disappointing that some video files’ cutscenes played off in the distance. Still, I also imagine that adapting those into VR without giving the player control would be difficult.
Green Hell VR is one of the most challenging yet intriguing survival games I’ve ever played. It gives players the knowledge and tools to play while simultaneously bringing the challenge. I hadn’t played Green Hell on any other platforms until writing this review, and I consider the VR version the definitive way to play, though it may be lacking certain features and things that players have on PC. This game is not for the faint of heart, but if you’re looking for an immersive experience to test you on your Quest 2, then I highly recommend it. If you have family members who want a tour of the Amazonian jungle, then the story of the easiest of difficulties is a great way to do that.
Review copy provided by Evolve PR
The Bottom Line
Green Hell VR is a must for for all levels of players who are interested in the genre and own a VR headset.