The survival sim genre has been around for a while and we’ve seen a lot of games excel in this category. However, this sim has taken a twist to become a far more relatively stressful experience that we’ve all gotten used to at this point. In our Retreat To Enen review, we see if this game can be a friendly alternative for this genre and people that don’t want to be on their toes at all times.
The game is set in the year 3600 CE. Centuries of war, socio-economic strife, and the impending climate catastrophe put the apex species on the verge of extinction. Turning back from the brink, humans chose a different path, one of healing, peace, and reverence for the ecosystem they are a part of.
As Earth heals, every human who reaches adulthood is now tasked with learning how to become one with Nature, on the island of Enen. Retreat to Enen focuses on this rite of passage.
You play as a survivor who arrives at the legendary island. Here, you will learn how to live in peaceful harmony with nature by surviving on your own. You will be discovering the island’s secrets, and mastering the art of meditation.
If you got stressed with playing The Forest alone and you don’t have friends with who you can tag along with, then you may want to consider trying out Retreat of Enen instead.
Visuals & Animations
The moment I entered Enen, I felt immersed right away. It’s great seeing a vibrant flourishing flora playing along to the ambient music, especially during the meditation part which we’ll tackle in a bit.
The moment I stepped onto the water and attempted to dive in already gave me an impression that this game’s best played in a VR headset.
The wildlife could’ve been improved a bit though especially during hunting. That part didn’t feel realistic to me as the animations felt off and I couldn’t tell if the arrows that I was firing were actually hurting the animals.
The implementation just felt “basic”. Even killing them with a spear didn’t give me a feeling of satisfaction in surviving. The death animations for each animal felt generic and they lacked some variety.
The game also had good narration, especially in the meditation parts. When you discover a ruin, an “inner voice” will speak to you as you meditate. After all, the devs collaborated with professionals and they did a pretty good job with the subtle addition of mental health awareness.
The soundscapes are also calming and relaxing and sometimes it helped me fall asleep quicker especially if I have a hard time sleeping late at night. Imagine playing rainy mood in the background while your mind wanders in this immersive world.
Another game that reminds me of Retreat to Enen that also integrated mental health is Dreamscaper but that’s a different game genre.
Both audio and visuals are strong points here, and play a central role in what’s so interesting about the title.
Players start on the island of Enen where you need to visit three ruins in order to progress to the other worlds. Although the game gives a couple of markers to see where you’re at in the area, another way of marking explored areas is if you place some flags.
However, I just got annoyed even more because I felt like running around in circles despite having flags in place. A good quality of life (QoL) that I would’ve loved to see was at least placing a first-person marker on the flag once you’ve built one so it’s easier to track places that you’ve already explored.
Swimming was surprisingly good in this game as well. It’s not Subnautica levels of sightseeing but I like the effort that the devs put in making it presentable. I just wish it had more attractive visuals that we can see similar to the forests in Enen like adding some corals here and there, not just the occasional seaweeds, algae, fish, and rocks.
Day and night cycles are long in this game and it feels like you’re accomplishing a lot by just gathering materials. Just make it a habit that you sleep at 19:00.
Where can I find that last ruin?!
If you’re like me who has no sense of direction, you can get impatient with exploring especially if you’re going to look for the last ruin.
In my case, it took me almost five hours of playtime to find all the ruins in Enen. It’s a good thing that the Discord community is helpful and responsive to my queries on where I can find the last ruin.
Finding these ruins over the course of your playthrough will give you more access to building sophisticated structures.
Other QoL suggestions that I would’ve liked to see for Retreat to Enen is that if they don’t want to implement a minimap, at least have a compass to somewhat lessen the exploration time. Another suggestion is to make the survivor’s watch gadget alert when there is a ruin nearby similar to Zelda’s BOTW when you’re being notified that you’re near a shrine.
When it comes to the building mechanics, we get the basic futuristic animations on placing structures but I wish that we could have more control over how to place the objects. There’s no tutorial on how to rotate the objects. I tried figuring it out and turns out you can use the mouse wheel to control the object rotation.
Although there aren’t any threats at night aside from the cold weather conditions, I would sometimes feel uneasy because it was too dark even if the game provided me with a flashlight. I can just imagine modders putting in some zombie and cannibal mods during the night.
Placing a pinned reminder for gathering materials was also a nice touch whenever I want to build something. This is a way to ensure I don’t get easily lost and distracted by the beautiful environments that Enen brings.
The home marker spawns and changes every time you sleep at a different shelter. Since I have limited markers to see on my map, some advice that I could give is to build a temporary shelter for each of the hexagonal markers that you see in Enen. This way you can keep a track of things without feeling lost or frustrated.
Mild Survival Rules
Retreat To Enen survival mechanics aren’t as punishing as other titles. Most life-threatening encounters that you can encounter while exploring are either getting poisoned, malnourished, or infected by pathogens. However, these can be easily remedied by crafting antidotes.
A funny experience that I had while playing this game is that I died of poison in my first two hours of playtime. This is also considering that Retreat to Enen is already on “easy” in the realm of the survival genres. I don’t even know if I should feel insulted by the fact that I zoned out too much while playing the game.
Once you find all the shrines in Enen, you’ll get to unlock the Valley of Giants and later on, The Great North which is pinned in your line of sight represented by the hexagon marker.
The only time where I felt a bit challenged was attacking either a wolf or a bear in the Valley of Giants. Though, it didn’t give me that hunting satisfaction as mentioned in my previous comments. Also, I didn’t hear any convincing audio or visual cues that I was getting damaged by any of these animals.
Retreat To Enen is a relaxing take on the survival genre with an immersive atmosphere and captivating level design. In fact, this game looks more suited for VR rather than for normal PC gaming alone.
If you’re a seasoned gamer who’s immersed in the Survival genre then it might take time for you to appreciate what Retreat to Enen has to offer but if you’re a casual gamer then this might be your cup of tea.
This review is based on the PC version of Retreat To Enen. The key was provided by Freedom Games.