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Forest Grove

Forest Grove

Written by Nathan Carter on 11/28/2023 for PS5  
More On: Forest Grove

I love a great mystery. It's why I loved the original Life is Strange and why movies like Scream, Se7en, and Prisoners are among my Top 10 list. The whodunits where a crime has taken place and one character amongst a group of people is the culprit are my favorites. I love to watch the mystery slowly unravels over the course of the story. This is why my interest instantly perked up once I read the synopsis of Forest Grove, an investigation game where you have to solve what happened to a teenage girl who has gone missing. While Forest Grove is pretty short and was a little rough technical wise, this game absolutely kept my interest throughout as the mystery has unfolded. 

The teenage heiress to a billionaire fortune has gone missing and it's up to you to figure out what happened to her. Taking place in the not too distant future of the 2070's, the game has you play as a detective armed with future technology to find out exactly what happened inside that house the night that Zooey went missing. You can start your investigation anywhere inside the digitally recreated Kunstmatigaard residence. You need to go room to room searching high and low for any evidence you can find.

The evidence you start to catalogue usually ranges from typical household items like a fork, sponge, or pillow - but a lot of these pieces of evidence will contain DNA samples and fingerprints. While it may not seem like much at first this becomes crucial to your investigation as you find more and more evidence. When you find enough evidence you will start to reveal who those fingerprints or DNA samples belong to, and after a while the full picture will become clear when you notice that someone's DNA or fingerprints match multiple pieces of evidence which may or may not have been used in nefarious activity. 

You are also equipped with a drone which you can use on holographic images you find in the house, which may lead to more information about the family itself or more suspicious activity that may have gone down. Along with the holographic flashbacks there are also voice samples that will reveal past conversations that happened. There are also some puzzles in the game and most of these are the type of puzzles you would expect in these kinds of games. There are numerous hidden doors and locations in the house that can be accessed by finding hidden keys which are usually hidden in safes or other objects. Most of these are pretty easy to figure out and the solutions are usually revealed to you in messages that can be found in the house. 

When you have finally gathered enough evidence in the house, around 90%-95%, you can go back to your desk and press charges. The interesting thing about this game is you can arrest multiple people for multiple crimes you may have discovered in your investigation. There is a drop down list of crimes you can charge people for including drug possession, assault, murder, computer crimes, DUI, and more. After submitting your report you'll get an ending via a newspaper article of the outcomes of the characters in the game along with a performance report from the department. If you do mess something up here it is possible to load a save and try again. 

Now I must say that this. Years ago I played Gone Home. A similar walking simulator type game that had a fantastic atmosphere and built up a great mystery where you explore a house and find out what happened to the occupants living there. I really like when mystery games will usually present you with some kind of door that can't be opened until you are near the end of the game. Gone Home did this with the attic. My heart was racing when I finally unlocked it and it led to one of the most anticlimactic endings I have ever experienced in my life, so much so that it just completely destroyed the entire game for me. Forest Grove has one of those doors that can't be opened until much later in the game and let's just say, without giving much away, that the payoff was worth it. 

Forest Grove can also be a little rough around the edges. For the most part, the game runs well but navigating the area can be a bit of a challenge at times. There were times when I got stuck in walls or boxes or other objects on the map. The game auto-crouches when needed and there was a bug that wouldn't let me stand up. These did seem to fix themselves after a while of mashing buttons and trying to brute force my way out of it.

The worst bug seems to be an issue where you can't interact with anything in the environment, fast travel to any of the locations, or interact with anything on the menus after placing down a light stick to light up a room. Thankfully I found a way to fix this by going back to your desk outside the house and selecting the nanodesk on the computer. There seems to be only a few music tracks in the game and while they are fantastic and create a great atmosphere for the game, you will probably get sick of hearing the same tracks over and over again. 

Forest Grove is very short and you can probably finish it in an afternoon or only a few hours but I did enjoy it while it lasted. It's a little rough around the edges and you can probably see where the mystery is going when it starts unfolding but it was good enough that it kept my attention and made me want to keep playing and finding more evidence. Though there were some issues, I hope the devs could possibly make sequels in the future as an anthology series where you investigate different houses and solve different crimes. This house definitely has a strong enough foundation to build upon.

Forest Grove is very short and a little rough around the edges but it's a decent mystery story that kept me interested throughout and made me want to keep playing to find every piece of evidence I could to complete the story. 

Rating: 7.5 Above Average

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember. My earliest gaming memories come from playing Lady Bug and Snafu on my fathers Colecovision and Intellivision respectively.  It wasnt until I was 6 years old and played a Mortal Kombat 2 arcade machine in a game room at a hotel that I truly fell in love with a videogame. I have so many wonderful memories of my dad and I playing Mortal Kombat on SNES every night after dinner. Throughout my childhood NES, SNES, Gameboy and Sega Genesis were the loves of my life. Here I am 35 years old and still as much in love with videogames as I ever was. 

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