The Forest Cathedral – Review
Follow Genre: Platformer, Walking simulator
Developer: Brian Wilson
Publishers: Whitethorn Games
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Switch
Tested On: PC

The Forest Cathedral – Review

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Good: The game isn't broken
Bad: Story, graphics, sound and gameplay
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Rating: 1.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Historical fiction is an interesting genre, as it can spin facts that happened in real life into more digestible or unique stories. The Forest Cathedral is one of such narratives, telling the story of Rachel Carson, a scientist who investigated DDT and its effects on people. Such stories can be difficult to tackle due to their use of real people in imagined scenarios. Does The Forest Cathedral do a good job?


As previously stated, the game’s story follows Rachel Carson, a biologist tasked with spending time on an isolated island, analyzing the fauna and flora that inhabit it. Said island has previously been sprayed with the pesticide DDT, an untested substance whose aftereffects Rachel will have to discover. Suffering from what is implied to be cancer, Rachel sees the island experience as the last thing to do before her death, but as the time spent there grows, her sanity begins to dwindle.

The story itself is told through cutscenes filled with abrupt cuts, sometimes interspersed with short gameplay sections. During both the cutscenes and gameplay, the dialogues are rather incoherent and make the cast seem like a bunch of nutjobs, which is definitely not aided by the cartoonish caricatures the characters are turned into soon enough after the beginning. Although the exact details for this won’t be covered in this section due to spoilers, they’ll be featured at the end of the review.


The game’s graphics consist of passable but stiff 3D models with a handful of 2D sprites for the platforming sections. Overall, The Forest Cathedral is not a looker and the excessive use of effects and abrupt cuts doesn’t do it any favors. The relatively generic environments and completely out-of-place training range segment make it seem like the game might be an asset flip.


Similarly to its graphics, the game’s sound design is nothing to write home about either. Although the soundtrack is alright, the sound effects and voice acting are lackluster at best. Especially the latter, which can often be borderline comical, making the already mediocre-at-best script even worse.


The little gameplay that The Forest Cathedral features is divided into two parts, namely 3D “walking sim” segments and 2D platforming. During the 3D sections, players will mostly just walk towards whatever terminal they need to interact with next, in order to go through a platforming bit. Alongside this, the game introduces an “iRGB” tool that players will use about two or three times to scan animals and which can also highlight the path to follow on some occasions.

During the 2D portions of the game, players will take control of a nondescript character with the ability to jump, dash, and attack. Depending on the segment, players will be tasked with pushing boxes to triggers, collecting keys, or eliminating enemies. Although these sections are the closest anything gets to actual gameplay (since the 3D sections consist of walking for a minute to the next interaction), they are still rather simple and surprisingly poorly implemented, with misleading hitboxes and stiff controls. Although the hazards in the levels can be removed in the game’s options, this only makes the little challenge it offers completely disappear.


Overall, The Forest Cathedral is a rather mediocre (almost a euphemism) game with a mess of a story and little to no gameplay. Surprisingly, and luckily, enough, the game only lasts about an hour, running out of content rather fast. Although perhaps fans of psychedelic experiences and weirdo games might enjoy this, the rather steep €12,49/$14.99/£11.39 price point for what amounts to a demo for a student project is a massive barrier to entry.

Personal Opinion

“I’m not going to beat around the bush: Playing this game is a waste of time. There is nothing here gameplay, story, or experience-wise. I love weirdo games even if they’re asset flips, as long as they have unique mechanics (look no further than the deranged “Pferd am Herd: SMUT”, at least that made me cackle), and this is not one of them. The Forest Cathedral is a downright bad game that does a disservice to the actual Rachel Carson. The only good thing I can say about it is that at least it was functional and that it made me go through an interesting Wikipedia rabbit hole, but that’s the bare minimum.”

Story Spoilers

As previously mentioned, the characters in the story become a mockery of actual humans soon enough. Rachel becomes completely delusional, talking to inanimate objects and animals like real people. Her conversations with the two other characters are grounded, but these are more exceptions than the rule. Out of these two other characters, one is Rachel’s girlfriend, who appears for two conversations and at the end of the game, limiting her screen time to a minute at best. The other character is Rachel’s superior, the scientist behind DDT’s creation who becomes cartoonishly evil when Rachel reveals the product can be toxic to humans. The scientist then goes on going on a rant about it not mattering and getting rich out of it.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 1.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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The Forest Cathedral - Review, 1.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

No longer writing for the site, pursuing other things.

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