Darkwood – First Impressions
Cowering in a corner at night is something I thought I only had to do on the weekends…and then I was introduced to Darkwood!
Publisher: Acid Wizard Studio
Developer: Acid Wizard Studio
Release Date: 17 July 2017
Darkwood is a top-down survival horror game brought to us by Acid Wizard Studio. Players take the reins of a man, stranded in an eerie forest after being attacked by a mysterious stranger. The aim…get out of the woods, sounds simple? That’s what I thought too.
This is a straight from the get-go a no hand-holding game. Darkwood throws players into the deep end. We know the end goal, get out of the forest.
Players take time during the day to scavenge materials for crafting, barricading and clues for escape. As soon as I began playing I knew fuel for the generator was going to be pivotal for my survival, well that and the creepy note.
Another important thing to note about this game is that there are rogue-like elements to the maps. Playing on normal difficulty gives the player infinite lives to find freedom, hard gives a limited number and hardcore gives just one life. Once a new game is started, certain locations on the map change, so no playthrough will ever be the same. I thought this was a rather nice touch…also knowing that any online help would be fruitless.
There’s one key thing to note about this game…the atmosphere. The developers have done an incredible job creating one of the most tense and unnerving atmosphere’s I’ve come across in a long time. Think back to fleeing through the barely visible streets of Silent Hill.
I spent the first night of the game huddled in the corner, waiting for something to come and get me. I think this is where the game really makes its mark. It’s not so much the creatures you come across…it’s the waiting in the dark for them to come and get you. It’s the praying that the generator holds out until daylight. I think that’s what truly made this game stand out for me…oh and the door opening by itself.
Darkwood also makes use of crafting elements. Be it crude weapons, traps or medicine. The system is pretty simple and manageable. There is also a currency system in the way of reputation. Players encounter a number of mysterious traders who will barter with you for reputation, which you earn for each night that you survive. I feel that this added a bit more depth to the game, providing interaction with some of the denizens of the woods and also providing some amazing art that pushed the eerie vibe of the game even further.
Any gamers familiar with The Indie Stone’s Project Zomboid, will also notice the use of perspective and combat. What you see in your line of sight is…well what you see. So swinging around with a torch every 5 seconds was something I found myself doing and I’m surprised I didn’t receive an achievement for giving my character whiplash.
Combat is interesting, although a little clunky. You may find yourself being charged by an enemy and aiming your hit, however it runs by and you have to try and manoeuvre yourself and line up another attack. The main enemies I have encountered so far are dogs, strange shambling humanoids…and a moose.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend this game and I will be continuing to play it following this first impression. The opening few hours have provided a scratch for that horror-needing itch that I feel 2017 has really been lacking. If you want to try out a seriously unnerving game and possibly find yourself investing spontaneously in nightlights, try out Dark wood.