Hollow Earth

The Endless Forest

The last in my series of would-be homes– as we come up on the deadline and the possibility of news regarding Uru– deals with a rather odd and unique MMO with some big issues, but one that, interestingly, is also the most fun. It’s called Tale of Tale’s The Endless Forest.

So, as was often asked when I talked about the game to a few fellow Uru fans, what’s the “point” of the game? What do you do? In the simplest sense, explore and have fun with friends. In a more complicated sense, you look into an artistic experiment into the core of social interaction in today’s games.

A little description of the game. You are a deer. With a humanoid face, but a deer none-the-less. You have all the benefits and limitations of being a deer. You have no chat interface. You have no switches to hit, etc. Your day consists of rubbing trees, drinking at the lakes, and prancing around as a happy, somewhat-creepy-faced deer. Boring as whittling a toothpick from a sequoia, you’d say if you didn’t want to disrespect those who go about whittling toothpicks from sequoias, right?

So would I have said if you had given me the premise. And yet, while a bunch of us are on Skype, the game leaves everyone laughing and having a great time and having a hard time going to sleep, eating, bathing, etc. There are only seven distinct areas in the game (two types of forest, a church ruin, a large oak tree, a large pond, a pile of rocks known as the playground, and a pair of strange rocks that represent/are the “gods” in the game) so it’s unclear to me just WHY it’s entertaining. Maybe it’s the adorable way the fawns (how you start out in the game if you name your deer) call out. Maybe it’s the ease and simplicity of the interface. Maybe it’s the mysterious and intriguing-if-somewhat-low-detail areas. Maybe it’s because it’s free.

I think, though, that it’s the concept that makes it interesting. You cannot talk in game. My Skype sessions with some friends are rare compared to me just wandering around and finding other deer. Without chat or violence there is no such thing as griefing. The most I could suppose a creative griefer could do is stand inside your avatar (which makes a nice yellow glow) or change a part of you against your will (however you can take off masks etc you’ve gotten one at a time).

This last bit is what may also add to the game’s intrigue. Your deer are “magic”. By performing certain tasks (rubbing a pine tree and eating the cone, kneeling before the statue of the world’s “gods”, etc.) you gain the ability to change other deer’s face masks, fur, antlers, or entire shape (you already turn into a frog if you go into a deep patch of water). As a fawn, however, you don’t keep these changes more than a few minutes and no one can change their own appearance. You have to get someone else to help you if you want a certain appearance.

If you’re interested, the first thing to do is download it and see if you like what you get. Then name your deer and begin your fawn period. You’re a fawn for a month and then you become an adult deer. Fawns don’t keep their magical changes for long, but adults do. And that’s essentially it. Explore, bay, have fun. It’s easier with Skype or another voip client so you can hear other’s reactions. Though, if you want the real experience, have no chat at all and communicate via gestures.

All in all, while weird, the game is very bold and often funny with what you can do.


Filed under: Reviews

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All posts are my opinion only and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of others.
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