Hey Xbox Wire readers! I’m Yared from Whitethorn Games, and I’m here to share a little info about our latest release, The Forest Cathedral, which launched today on Xbox Series S|X!
While you may know us from the many cozy, heartwarming titles we’ve published, such as Calico and Lake, The Forest Cathedral takes a slightly darker direction. The game, while still adhering to tranquil, low-stress gameplay, evokes a more unsettling, eerie feeling that approaches the realm of horror. Players will embark on a mysterious, atmospheric psychological thriller based on the real-world ecological disasters caused by the pesticide DDT, or as developer Brian Wilson more accurately describes the genre: an environmental thriller. The game is played from the point of view of environmental scientist Rachel Carson, though the real star of the show is the haunting setting itself.
Methods of Research
The Forest Cathedral’s fully voiced, rich narrative is told through a combination of two gameplay styles. One is its first-person 3D exploration in which the player navigates Science Island, conducting research on its wildlife. Taking notes and utilizing a special scanner, the player investigates the remote island in search of answers to the mystery.
Along the way you can interact with computer terminals where The Forest Cathedral’s second gameplay style appears in the form of 2D platforming puzzles. On these terminals, the player controls a 2D character “Little Man,” traversing through the puzzles in order to operate mechanisms back in the 3D space. Both the 2D and 3D worlds interact with each other, unlocking new areas or progressing the story.
Art Imitates Life
The Forest Cathedral’s story is a dramatic reimagining of real-world scientist Rachel Carson’s environmental science book, Silent Spring, which documented her discovery of the harmful effects of DDT. Developer Brian Wilson drew inspiration from the attempted silencing of Carson and her findings to build his own artistic interpretation of events.
As Wilson explains, “the story of Rachel Carson is a David vs. Goliath story.” Throughout the game, you’ll become immersed in situations that evoke a feeling of struggling against overwhelming resistance. In this way, Wilson emulates what he believes Carson must have felt as she battled to share what was ultimately life-saving information that giant chemical companies did not want the public to know. The Forest Cathedral imparts the same uncertainty, fear, and confinement, leaving the player anxious to discover how the malicious plot develops.
The environment players will explore in The Forest Cathedral is based on Cook Forest State Park’s own Forest Cathedral, located in western Pennsylvania – near where both Wilson and Carson grew up. The vibrantly rendered surroundings paired with the atmospheric soundtrack – including several original pieces composed by Wilson – create a peaceful yet eerie setting for the story to unfold. From the dramatic height of the towering indigenous trees to the tranquil lake that hugs the shores of the island, intrigue surrounds you as you comb the island and unravel its mysteries. Though locally inspired, the game’s themes of social consciousness and our duty to our environment apply globally.
Ease of Access
Whitethorn Games wants to ensure that as many players as possible get the chance to enjoy our titles, and The Forest Cathedral implements many accessibility features with that goal in mind. A few of the adjustable settings include:
- Full keyboard and mouse or gamepad controller support
- Input rebinding for most actions
- High-contrast sans-serif text/subtitles and Open Dyslexic typeface options
- Visual effects toggles
- Frequent checkpoints
- “Turn Off Spikes” toggle, removing platforming section hazards
- “Float Mode” toggle, reducing platforming section fall speed
- Even more options, all available from the settings menu at any time
With these settings, players can customize their experience to best suit their playstyle and ability at any point in their playthrough.
We hope that you enjoy unearthing the mysteries of Science Island in The Forest Cathedral, available now in the Xbox store!
The Forest Cathedral
Whitethorn Games, Inc.