Retreat to Enen – Review
Follow Genre: Survival game
Developer: Head West
Publisher: Freedom Games
Platform: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S
Tested on: PC

Retreat to Enen – Review

Site Score
Good: Classic survival gameplay, Meditation gimmick is unique
Bad: Worst map ever, Gets boring quick since it doesn't bring anything new to the table
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Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

Survival games are a dime a dozen these days, so developers have started to jump through hoops to make theirs stand out. Retreat to Enen is Head West’s first title and a survival game that takes a more peaceful approach. Don’t get us wrong, there are still plenty of threats out to get you, but you’ll notice nature itself is scary and not necessarily dangerous animals or other people. Learn to live as one with nature and maybe Enen will become one of the most relaxing places for you to hang out.


The opening of the game is a bunch of wonderfully painted still images with narration over it (no subtitles, sadly). We’re told the game takes place in a future where war and pollution almost destroyed humanity. The survivors have learned to leave conflict behind and live as one with nature, imparting this knowledge to future generations. In this society, there is a rite of passage young adults go through, and this is known as the retreat to Enen. This retreat sees them go out in the wild to survive on their own and meditate in a series of ruins that symbolize lost civilization, allowing them to reflect on that which ties all living beings together. You play as a young person who is going through this rite, meaning you can’t go home until you’ve completed all the needed meditations and have discovered your place in this world.


Visually, Retreat to Enen doesn’t look half bad. While maybe not quite as photorealistic as some modern survival games tend to be, the graphics are certainly nice. There are three distinct biomes for you to explore and an in-depth weather system adds extra flavoring. This means that even though the locations themselves are actually smaller than they seem to be, you’ll find your surroundings dynamic enough to stay interesting. Seeing the more hyper-futuristic elements blend in with the rugged survival environment is fun. Though if there’s one complaint, it’s that some of the resources blend into nature a little too easily, making it hard to spot things you might need to pick up. Then again, this might just add to the realism factor.


There’s a very limited soundtrack in this game, perhaps so the player can enjoy the nature sounds a bit more. These sounds are nice, especially with the game having a much more peaceful and down-to-earth atmosphere than we’re used to for this genre. There’s voice acting in the form of a robotic voice that assists you along the way and clears up which objectives you need to aim for. It’s not the worst, though not the best either, as it’s quite monotonous and often repeats the same phrases. The game notably lacks any subtitles for the dialogue.


Retreat to Enen is a survival game that forgoes constant threats in favor of a more calm but still fun experience. Wolves and bears can still be encountered, though the game actually does offer the option to turn them off in the menu. What you’ll be fighting instead are the elements, hunger and thirst, and the clock. Poison is also a risk if you eat or drink something wrong. Even then, the focus seems to be more on exploration and appreciating the beauty of nature in this game rather than it being a challenge.

As often is the case, you have a bunch of stats to keep an eye on. Hunger and thirst are the most important ones. You’ll have to find food and clean water to deal with those. There’s health too, which is chipped away by poison or by getting hurt. Sleeping won’t heal you, since it only works as a save function. Temperature is important too and at night the game gets ridiculously dark. Then there is spirit. Spirit is what you use for crafting and using certain tools. You can generate it by meditating, which you can do at a few designated spots in the game once a day. Meditation actually comes with a mini-game that encourages players to partake in a guided meditation in real life, which is an interesting touch. Overall, the game feels more like a lesson in mindfulness masquerading as a survival game. Whether you like this or not is pretty subjective.

Retreat to Enen does not get more complex than that. All the basic elements are present: finding resources to craft weapons, shelter, animal traps, and other things needed to survive. The goal of the game is to meditate in a series of ruins you can gradually find as the game progresses. It would all be rather simple if it weren’t for the horrible map. It does not include a marker to show where the player or their base is and only has a few vague landmarks on it. On top of that, placing your own markers doesn’t seem to work properly. It’s unclear what the devs were going for here, but the result is that this game is incredibly frustrating to navigate. And since a large majority of the objectives depend on finding places, you’ll spend plenty of time running in circles.


Retreat to Enen is at the same time very different and very similar to other survival games. Its approach to mindfulness and wanting the player to relax and enjoy nature while surviving are unique, but aside from that, the game includes mostly traditional elements of the genre and doesn’t bring that much new to the table. Your enjoyment will depend mostly on if you enjoy survival games as a whole, and whether or not the gimmick bores you.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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Games are my escape and writing is my passion.

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