We were never supposed to go to the forest for the medicine. Where we have never been, fear and desire to help family and loved ones have driven us in there. But now we are cursed. The invisible force gradually pushed us against each other, and we are not interested in plants anymore. We are just thinking about survival. We feel, that the forest is alive, but we also know, that no one at home will trust us. But we still have to try to warn them!
This adventure could take place anywhere in the world, even in the mysterious Tribeč (where people disappear). It is a board game, that bears the clear name Forsaken Forest. The author of this struggle for survival is company called Forsaken Games. Alec Nezin is signed under the box as designer and the game was released in 2018. The game succeeded on Kickstarter, where it had awakened the ancient evil and it has survived until today.
Terror enters the hands of any player, who chooses and opens the box. There is a warning in the form of a horror scene on the lid, but it does not help either. None of the players will run, but instead will place a square board with forest map among all the participants. It is covered with small squares, but also with eight goal positions. They will not remain empty, but players will set goal cards nearby. From the travel deck, players put each three cards down in front of each other, the rest creating a package accessible to everyone. Along with these components, players also prepare stacks of forest cards and artifacts.
Players then determine, what strength balance they want to have between village and team of the cursed ones. Much depends on the number of participants, which can range between four and twelve. The agreed layout determines, which cards will be in play. Each of the teams has several roles with specific rules in their ranks, which further pushes the rules complexity of the game and, with their skills, can help their party win.
Role cards must be shuffled and secretly distributed among players. That way everyone gets their role, which only he knows. It is up to them to openly talk about their mission and to tell the truth or lie. No one else can look at the card and make sure. Even before a real drama occurs, everyone in the team of cursed ones will get to know each other, they will place the cards of goals on the board, and the player in the coward role will find their identity as well.
This is followed by the first day, where all players wake up without distinction. Within the day, each player gets a turn, where he draws one card first and then can do actions with its help. Not only does player has chance to move the group through the forest, he can also get new cards, make alliances, murder suspects, study secrets, or betray others by stealing resources. There are plenty of possibilities. If a team finds itself on the map at the site of excavations, it will also gain valuable artifacts with special abilities for its owner.
As soon as all the players have played their stage, it is time for the woods to welcome visitors. Players reveal the top card from the forest deck and arrange according to its instructions. Sometimes night card appears instead, where all the dark side players choose one victim and eat it. The last chance to rescue that player has the team at the beginning of the next round, if they play the right card. But even with death, its not over here, because the player takes on the role of a vengeful spirit, that can interfere with the game.
The heroes are trying to follow a common arrangement and reach one of the goals. They mark group way with the help of footprint tokens. Reaching home on one or the other side is the first of the possible victory conditions. The other is, of course, a situation, where only the representatives of one of the two sides remain in the game.
Forsaken Forest is a game of secret roles, which is a very popular pastime especially in higher player numbers. Of course, we should mention City of Palermo or Are You and Werewolf? But unlike them, this new box contains far more rules, roles, and options. But does it make the game better, or vice versa, all the details and news disrupt the gameplay?
Unfortunately the truth is on both sides. Above all, dragging for getting to the correct location on the map and lots of interesting roles speak in favor of the game. As a result, players cannot bluff so well and role deduction is not very difficult, while in other games players are often exposed only due to chance. Indeed, deduction is not really the main element, because players have the opportunity to peek into cards.
But, unfortunately, whole rules and complicated procedures for each stage are, what keeps players from truly enjoying it. You have to watch out, if you have not forgotten something important. There are a lot of rules and this is also evidenced by the surprisingly dense manual.
Interesting elements are cards, that give players the freedom to make their own decisions and act on their own. This is the moment, we like the most, because everybody here has to choose between the profit of their party and their own benefit.
Another problem is, that every night a team of villains gets a chance to kill one enemy. So if shuffling the package causes too short days (sometimes even several rounds and moves), then the villagers‘ team narrows very quickly. As a result, you don’t feel like both teams have the same chance of winning. Unfortunately, this will stand out much more in lower numbers, so it’s good to open this box in at least eight players.
In addition, game can get quite long for its genre, if you are unlucky in shuffling cards. It is generally not clear in advance, whether the game will last for an hour or thirty minutes. It always depends on chance.
Forsaken Forest is therefore quite disappointing. We waited for a bigger and more spectacular experience, which is unfortunately spoiled by many shortcomings. The biggest is the clear imbalance of the sides, but the unpredictable game time also has a negative impact. But that doesn’t mean Forsaken Forest is a completely bad game. It has bright moments. Unfortunately, there are better on the market.
Forsaken Forest is a game, that tries to offer a lot. But the outcoming stew may be unnecessarily complicated and hamper overall progress. The game offers bright moments, but in general the game is too dependent on cards and thus unbalanced in terms of both groups' abilities. Forsaken Forest is a party game, that has not met expectations and its potential.