I always feel a little bad when I see developers watching speedruns. They spend years on these games, perfecting the environments, the pacing, the balance, and here we are sprinting through, trying to break everything, and beat all their work as quickly as possible. Developers from Endnight, however, creator of the upcoming horror game and Steam wishlist darling Sons of the Forest, are verifiably “stoked” by an ultra-rapid speedrun of the original Forest, which clears the survival sim in just over 20 minutes. As we get closer to the Sons of the Forest release date, Endnight reflects on some of the ideas and tech underlying the breakout Steam hit.
Akaya Kaito, also known as ‘Akaya,’ holds various speedrunning records for The Forest, beating the multiplayer game in 19 minutes and 55 seconds on hard mode, and 19 minutes, 52 seconds in the ‘peaceful’ category, whereby players are not allowed to harm any enemy NPCs. Viewing one of Akaya’s runs, Endnight head tester Evan Haley and Sons of the Forest project director Rod Green observe some extremely shrewd strategies and exploits.
After beginning in the crashed plane, Akaya quickly grabs an assortment of chemicals and alcohol, which will be needed later to craft health and energy packs. As noted by Haley and Green, since the items in the plane randomly spawn, to get the right gear on start up Akaya must have restarted their Forest run numerous times.
Heading out into the eponymous woods, Akaya starts bunny hopping in order to increase their speed. “It definitely takes me back to testing the first game, where you’ve done this so much you just run through it, like instinct,” Haley says. Akaya then heads to the caves to grab the all-important rebreather and the keycard to the underground lab, before pulling perhaps the most incredible stunt of the whole run. Spoilers for The Forest follow hereafter.
In order to complete The Forest, you need to find your missing son who is being kept in an underground lab, hidden at the bottom of an enormous sinkhole. Typically, the majority of the game involves gathering the necessary equipment to traverse to the sinkhole’s base unharmed.
But that takes time. Akaya, and the developers at Endnight, know a better way. Owing to a quirk in the game’s design, if you land on certain slanted objects, it negates all fall damage. Akaya simply leaps into the sinkhole, plummets about 300 feet, and safely lands on an angled lump of rock. Job done.
“It’s always fascinating to watch someone play something you’ve worked on, and spent so much time and love on it,” Green says. “Even when it’s played in 20 minutes,” Haley adds, saying they’re “stoked to see someone going through the critical path, not using too many exploits but just playing through it.” You can see the full run and commentary via IGN.
Akaya’s masterwork however is the final boss fight against Megan, the mutated young girl that you fight in The Forest’s underground lab. Using a single spear (they haven’t had time to collect any other weapons), Akaya exploits another idiosyncrasy in The Forest’s design.
According to Green, Megan registers and performs attacks based on an invisible, squared grid – if the player is standing in the square at her front, she attacks front; if they’re stood in the square that is front-right, she attacks front-right.
Akaya, however, finds the perfect spot between two grid squares, meaning that Megan is never entirely sure where to aim her tendrils. They throw the spear, run forward, pluck it out of Megan’s body, throw it at her again, and repeat this process until she drops dead.
Heading into the elevator to end the game, Green explains there were “a lot of bugs” when Endnight was originally trying to get it to work. Also, the elevator doesn’t move – it just teleports to its destination, then locks you inside to create the illusion of a journey. “It actually goes [to the top floor] instantly,” Green says. “We just needed to queue a bit of a load up.” You can check out more Forest speedrun’s over on Akaya’s YouTube channel.
Now you’ve had a whistle-stop tour through the original game, take a look at the Sons of the Forest map so you know where to scavenge when you once again crash land. You’ll also want to get to know the Sons of the Forest mutants, and get yourself familiar with Sons of the Forest crossplay, so you can survive alongside your pals from other platforms.