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The Endless Forest (Windows)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.4
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
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Description

The Endless Forest is a free, constantly evolving 3D deer simulation game that can be played both alone or in massive multiplayer online mode. Everyone plays a stag (male deer) and there is only non-violent interaction. To enhance the immersion, there is no chat function, but only deer-body-language instead. You can rub trees, sniff other deer, walk, jump, rest or run. The game was originally developed as a screensaver, but a standalone launcher was released afterwards. When you connect to the network, the game seamlessly introduces the other deer online. Inactive deer, but still online (in screensaver mode), are shown sleeping. If you are all alone in the forest, you can roar to try and wake them up.

You cannot name your deer, but by registering on the site, you can choose a unique symbol. This will appear as a glowing symbol between your antlers, identifying you as a unique animal. The locations currently include a mysterious ruin and the forest itself. There are no goals to achieve or rules to follow, but it serves as relaxing escapism, and as a sandbox for social experiments between humans without the usual means of communication. The game engine allows for rotation and zooming. To stress the harmless nature of the game, it is impossible to hurt your deer. Even when you collide with trees at full speed, it only slows you down and triggers some magical dust, no harm done.

The game received a grant from Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds, with support from Musée d'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Design Vlaanderen, Entropy8Zuper! and Provinciaal Archeologisch Museum Ename.

The 1.5 release doubles the play arena with an idyllic pond surrounded by weeping willows, and adds Abiogenesis, where the twin god creators, Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn, perform live in the virtual world at regular intervals, creating swarms of animals, changing the seasons, playing music and creating scenery on the fly.

The 2.0 release adds the ability to alter the look of the deer avatars by acquiring hidden magic to cast spells, new ways to express emotions, French and German as additional languages, and there are new locations such as a hollow oak and a stream.

The third phase allows players to become fawns and explore a new area with birch trees and cycamores. There are also blue and red breasts on your antlers to collect and the antlers can play hide and seek among a bunch of large boulders.

Screenshots

The Endless Forest Windows Rubbing against a tree (Phase 1).
The Endless Forest Windows The idols among the ruin are what it is left of converted pagan souls (Phase 1).
The Endless Forest Windows Options
The Endless Forest Windows In later phases, more actions are available (Phase 3).

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User Reviews

Not for everyone, but a real gem on its own! niko kun (5) 4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars

The Press Says

Adventure Lantern Jun, 2006 95 out of 100 95

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Trivia

Inspirations

The game is profiled as a "jeu d'auteur" where games evolve towards a medium with the artistic expressiveness of cinema and literature, instead of consumer goods.

The Ename Ruin was originally part of the Ename Actueel group art exhibition organized by the Provincial Archeological Museum in the small town of Ename in Belgium. The concept for the exhibition was the idea of the Tardis, a time-and-space-travel device featured in the Doctor Who television series. The idea was that you step into a box of which the inside seems much larger than you would expect from seeing the outside. And when you step out again, you are in a different place.

The museum is built near an archeological site where an abbey was built over the remains of a fortress to defend against the French Kingdom. For the exhibition, Tale of Tales created a ruin of the gothic Saint Salvator church, based on actual measurements. The exhibition visitors could steer the deer through the forest, but when the deer went to sleep, the soul of the visitor escaped and started floating through the forest. If a new visitor found a soul, they could convert the pagan souls. If you did well, at the end of the day, a grave was erected near the ruin. If the majority of the remaining souls was left unchristened, a pagan idol would show up instead of a grave. The amount of graves and idols depended on the visitors. The configuration at the end of the exhibition is now used in the full version of the game, and is to remain that way forever.

The glowing symbols between the antlers are inspired by the vision that was received by Saint Hubert. He was an 8th century nobleman who converted to Christianity after seeing a crucifix between the antlers of the stag he was hunting.

The deer's humanoid faces are reminiscent of the anime movie Princess Mononoke by Hayao Miyazaki, which features a similar theme. According to the concept artist, Lina Kusaite, however, there are several other occurrences of similar creatures in different cultures. Frida Kahlo's self portrait as a hunted stag is one. And Buraq, the horse that carried the Islamic prophet Muhammad to heaven and back, is often depicted with a human face.

Related Web Sites

Sciere (243124) added The Endless Forest (Windows) on Dec 30, 2005