Reviews - Updated on April 13, 2022

The crisis of overproduction in the horror genre, when several similar indie horror films are released literally every week, is forcing developers to look for new approaches and forms of artistic intimidation of the public. And so the authors of Layers of Fear interfere with horror and cyberpunk in Observer, securing all this with the charisma and voice of Rutger Hauer, and Acid Wizard Studio (also, by the way, Poles) in Darkwood masks a horror movie with a typical, at first glance, game about ” craft” and survival.Darkwood game review

Sometimes clots of darkness do not give passage – you need to literally poke them with a torch.

stay alive

The very name survival/horror suggests a combination of these two mechanics, but still, in the overwhelming majority of cases, we are talking about games in the spirit of Resident Evil and Silent Hill with one or another variation, and the “survival” itself is represented by a crowd of approximately the same projects about permanent “craft” and search for resources.

So, Darkwood fits perfectly into this formulation – survival / horror. On the one hand, it really is survival. Moreover, the game looks like a typical indie of this direction from Steam: top view, old-fashioned graphics, constant search for resources and crafting. According to the plot, we were locked in a strange, dark and scary forest, from which we need to somehow get out.

The formula is classic. During the day, we explore locations, drag everything that can be dragged into inventory (and the pocket is not dimensionless), communicate with rare oncoming characters and trade with them. And when it gets dark, you need to rush to the nearest shelter with all your might, close all the doors and windows, block the passages with cabinets and pray that God will let you survive this night. Because at twilight the procedurally generated forest, which even during daylight hours tries to kill you in every possible way (the hero is attacked by deer, dogs and even poisonous mushrooms, stepping on which you can get poisoned), generally flies off the coils – all sorts of monsters, savages, ghosts, banshees and other monsters, as if woven from darkness. And all of them may well come to visit you …

Therefore, during the day it would be better to build or repair barricades in the shelter in advance, refuel the generator that turns on the light with gasoline, and set traps at the aisles. However, the strange gas coming from the furnace, which is in every dwelling, saves much more – it keeps evil spirits for some time. In the same place, on the stove, you need to prepare injections from special mushrooms that give the hero new “perks”, for example, the ability to see further. True, this will have to choose some negative effect.

The hideout also contains a workbench where you can not only craft, but also repair and upgrade items. If you “upgrade” it, then access to cooler drawings will open. Although some things like torches, bandages and master keys allow you to craft on the go, without a workbench.

Darkwood game review

The system of “crafting” in the game is quite simple and understandable, and the principle of barter is used in trade.

I didn’t leave the forest…

However, the words “dark and scary forest” in this case are not an empty phrase and not a background that serves to justify all this fairly typical (with the exception of gas and furnace) survival mechanics. It’s really dark and scary, and you’re constantly on your toes. In the early version, it was intensified by the permanent death of the character. In the final one, this is not the case – the fallen hero is reborn in his haven, losing some of his things. But it hardly makes it any less scary and stressful.

The authors did a great job with the sound – some whispers, screams, frightening rustling and gloomy ambient all the time make you nervous. The darkness is sometimes felt almost physically, and the monsters and oncoming characters look frightening, insane and repulsive – someone in a hood with a wolf face, a strange person in a gas mask …

You can come across an abandoned camp with corpses, a strange site where the outlines begin to change, a ruined church where ghosts surround and whisper: “Dance with me” … And next to it, in the house, a man is sitting, methodically beating his head on the table and also repeats some strange words. Naturally, he will soon attack, turning into a black monster.

Some NPCs communicate with us and even set some tasks, promising to help get out of here – find something, get to such and such a location, and so on. In the process, you will not only have to collect, craft, hide and fight using home-made edged weapons or firearms, but also look for passwords from locks and doors.

The farther into the forest, the darker and more infernal everything around – more dangerous enemies appear, reality and illusions flow into each other, boundaries are erased, darkness surrounds, thickens, madness grows, hamstrings tremble … But you find more and more information about what is here generally happens, and even get the opportunity to influence events.

Darkwood game review

Can’t see a damn thing!

***

Despite the name, Darkwood stands out from the general background of games about survival and search for resources. Yes, it’s hard to call it a typical “survival” – we have an atmospheric and hardcore horror movie in which the elements of the “bagel” and survival mechanics serve not as a goal, but only as a means of creating suspense in order to intimidate the player as much as possible.

Pros: it’s really creepy and scary here, and the forest and the darkness coming out of it feel like real, material enemies; creepy sounds; a general feeling of constant tension and fear; solid game mechanics at the intersection of “bagel”, survival and horror.

Cons: the graphics may seem outdated to some.

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