Game Review: Protect yourself from the horrors of the dark in Darkwood [PC, Mac, Linux]
Acid Wizard Studio is here with its survival horror title called Darkwood and offers you two choices: to buy the game in the traditional way or to download it completely free (in the form of torrent) and without DRM, as allowed by the creators themselves . The studio (which, as mentioned in its official site, consists of three people and ... a dog) made this move to fight the online gaming reselling phenomenon. So regardless of the game, they deserve congratulations on this bold move. However, is it really worth investing your precious time in Darkwood?
Darkwood is takes place in a mysterious forest in the Soviet Union. You start with your anonymous character, who is trapped in this nightmare and tries to escape, but each exit seems to be blocked. Do not expect epic introductory cut-scenes, you are not given any explanation of who you are, why you are in this forest and how long you are trapped in it. All these mysteries intrigue the imagination and make the player afraid of the unknown fears and dangers lurking at each step.
There is a special aura in Darkwood. The kind of aura that makes you understand that the game will not offer you a helping hand to guide you into its world. It is particularly difficult, at least for the novice player; it requires patience and persistence and I suggest that you start from the normal level of difficulty at least until you understand its mechanisms. Death to normal is forgiven with a simple "punishment" where you lose a small piece of your equipment, which you can re-collect with the second attempt. In the other two levels of difficulty, the hard and the nightmare, you will put your patience at test and will more likley be disappointed by the result.
Your main purpose is, in addition to escaping, to survive during the night against "evil". An important part of your survival is preparation during the day. The game follows a day-night cycle, which in its execution manages to create a sense of anxiety to the player. As it rains, you are automatically more vulnerable against the terrors of darkness. You must explore, discover objects and complete targets by collecting fuels for the power generator, ammunition, etc. At night, however, you set the defenses in your shelter against the forest mania. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, such as adequate illumination of your hiding place, trapping, controlling barricades and covering every hole from which the monsters of the game can invade.
You can make your own materials for your survival (bandages), but for heavy artillery you need a workbench through which you can create a variety of weapons, bombs, etc. with upgrading capabilities. The inventory is rather small, so you need to b careful of how you manage all of the items you find in order not to be at a disadvantage. In your shelter you also have an oven, which is the way to raise your character level and acquire new skills. Through the oven you can cook and create essence. When you fill a certain dose of essence you can unlock new skills.
The game uses a vertical view that offers a spherical view of the free open space where you are moving, but your field of vision is very limited and it is revealed to you partially, depending on where you are heading. This helps enhance the terror, because at any moment there is the possibility of something suddenly jump in front of you and shock you. Controlling, although limited to basic functions, takes a while to get used to how you use your equipment or how you interact with the objects. Each time you discover a new area, it appears with a symbol on the map. However, this is not the case with your exact position in the room, so be careful not to deviate from your goal and meet with unpleasant situations.
Pricing & Availability
Darkwood is available on PC/Mac/Linux and you can find it on Steam for $14 or you can download it for free as a torrent.
Graphics & Sounds
Graphics are nice with dark grotesque scenes, without being something exceptional or special but in the sound field, things are different. The sound is the great trump of Darkwood and it contributes most to creating a terrifying atmosphere. I suggest you use headphones for this experience. During the night, in your room with a single companion a dim light, the feelings of discomfort that you feel from the noises, steps and voices that prompt you to follow them to the unknown is a really creepy experience.
Darkwood combines elements of different types of games into a horror wrapper. The result, beyond some mistakes and imperfections, is satisfactory and worth trying. Besides, the game is available for free so what do you have to lose? It's not the type of game that offers visual fright as we know it, mainly because of the lack of stimuli from the simple graphics engine it uses. It offers the kind of horror that develops in-game to the player and is scattered around. It is in terrifying voices from nowhere, in disgusting rumors, in sickness, to strange mysterious characters. It nests under your skin in the form of anxiety and discomfort as you try to pull out one more night. Let us know your thoughts and impressions in the comments below.
Darkwood screenshots (above) and trailer (below)