This is the first survival game I've played that really makes use of nature as an Antagonist. In all my playtime I have yet to see "The Beast", although I know twice he's been near, which always adds a little tension.
But on more than one occasion I have found myself doing a perfect Nathan Drake "NO NO NO" as I lose my footing on a cliff and careen down the side, losing my precious herbs and axe along the way. Landing at the bottom of an unknown section of map, with a major fever.
This game has the most robust mapping system I have ever seen, relying on known waypoints and a compass to open your map, which you then use to triangulate your position, then adding the option to plot out unmarked waypoints, opening up more map. Make no mistake, if you don't like cartography or map-reading you will dislike this game. But, if you are into conquering nature while trying to map out a survival plan for yourself then this is the game for you. The mapping is the highlight of this game for me, it is fantastically implemented and should be the standard for any game going forward that uses a mechanic like building a map based on exploration.
Focusing on exploration and narrative over scares and enemies, your wits are put to the test. Get stuck at night in the wilderness in a section that you have not mapped well and you'd better hope you run across a makeshift camp, or you're dead. yes, Nature is a formidable foe in this game.
With a beautiful island (which seems HUGE in scope), and a backstory from the early 1900's that plays out through scattered notes, there is an elusive mystery to uncover whilst acheiving the main game end-goal, which is to find 3 suitable plants that make a cure for the plague (which you are suffering from). With dozens of plants to find on the island you will find your eyesight put to the test as you watch for plants and man made objects to triangulate your map with, all the while keeping note of your surroundings for footing and dangers. Add in research stations that let you analyze your plants and then make different medicines with them, leading to buffs for your character to keep his health, endurance and sanity up and you're adding in hours of careful playtime.
The movement system is just as unique as the rest of this game. As a plague victim you are succumbing to the effects of the disease. Stay hydrated, stay feverless. The movement is based on a physics engine that reacts to the environment around you; climbing uphill dehydrated, you WILL know, you will feel the struggle. Going down a steep incline too fast? You will lose your footing, possibly sending you hundreds of feet downwards in a spiralling arc, hurting and disorienting you. Which could easily lead to a swift death. It's not perfect in it's execution, but it is something entirely different that really adds a unique aspect of challenge to the gameplay. Heavily wooded areas increase the chance of slipping on wet leaves. riverbeds are rocky, adding to the fall factor. Swamps get deep and there's always the chance of wading too deep, and if you're health isn't tended to, drowning becomes a real fear.
I've hardly mentioned the Beast, as I have yet to encounter him. The Beast randomely patrols the island, the AI is based on sight, smell and sound. When he's stalking you, your heartbeat becomes your indicator. Hide or run, lose the Beast and you're alright...but if he continues to get closer you may have to fight him off, using weapons found around the Island, but I am told that fighting is for fools. Flee and stay hidden. I really don't mind that I have yet to come face-to-face with him. The Beast is almost as much about emotional fear than jump scares. But IMO, he is second to Nature as to the dangers around you.
Saving relies on light. Fires, candles and lanterns populate the island, find one and light it and you have a saved game. A beautiful day/night cycle is active, with beds that allow you to sleep, save and skip a few hours ahead. Sticks can be used as torches at night to help in almost pitch-black wilderness, don't let The Beast see that light!
I could go on and on about how much I enjoy this game, how great the community is; I could talk about the mods available that make it a more challenging and daunting survival sim. I could also tell you how much value I find in this game for only $15. But you should find out for yourself.
If you want a real survival challenge, that fiinally makes nature the main antagonist (while keeping the game exciting and challenging) then Miasmata is the game for you. The laerning curve is in the medium range of difficulty, but the community is always ready to help out, and there are plenty of guides to help you get started.
Highly enjoyable, highly recommended. :)