The Forest Quartet Review: Garden Of Unearthly Puzzles

Developer Trent Garlipp • Publisher Trent Garlipp • Release November 3, 2022 • Reviewed On PC

Deep in the woods live the members of an enigmatic jazz band. The fearless leader, Nina, stole her fellow musicians away from the anxiety, depression, and rage that smothered them in the city and brought them to live among the trees.

But now she’s dead.

And with her passing, the forest no longer shields them from their inner demons. Grief threatens to swallow each of them whole, leading Nina to take one last trip to help her friends.

The game starts with the ghostly protagonist rising from the grave, and — despite how horror-movie-esque that sounds — The Forest Quartet’s tone isn’t dark, but rather hopeful. I drift into a part of the atmospheric wilderness with a stage. This will be the site of The Forest Quartet’s farewell concert in memory of its deceased singer. However, while the instruments all stand ready, none of the players have arrived.

Gliding up to and interacting with the piano pulls me into a totally different part of the woods. This dreamlike construct represents Kirk, the band’s pianist, who’s depression covers everything in a mass of writhing black globs. To combat this, I have a series otherworldly powers. I can sing, sending up swirls of glittering orbs, bring light to objects like lonely lampposts, and hover a certain distance above the ground.

As I make my way through the tangle of Kirk’s imagination, halted machines appear, and a voiceover of an interview with the band member plays in the background. The illuminating chat explains the machines as Kirk’s source of inspiration, and now they’ve stopped working. Wielding light, music, and shapes, I power the neglected generators in the hopes of clearing the depression.

Similarly, The Forest Quartet’s drummer and cello player struggle with rage and anxiety, respectively. Each section of their inner forests vary wildly, with one filled with shadow monsters and the other completely set ablaze. The puzzles also take on different forms depending on whose problems you are trying to fix. And though none of them are overly challenging, the game can be a little finicky leading to brief moments of frustration.

The culmination of the roughly hour-and-a-half-long game is a concert that plays on my heartstrings. The Forest Quartet is not an overly deep game to dive into, but its brief playtime explores heavy, and relatable, themes with grace.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
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