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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
Platforms: PC (Windows, Mac OS and Linux)
Platform reviewed on: PC (Windows)

 

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 game that doesn’t hold your hand. Darkwood throws players into the deep end. It gives you the end goals but that’s it: get out of the forest.

The game uses “24-hour clock” through with a day and night cycle. During the day, played need to scavenge materials for crafting mostly. However, barricading the location and hunting for clues is very important as well. Darkwood makes it clear that the generator is pivotal to survival… plus the game does provide a creepy little note.

 

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The maps for this game have rouge-like elements where each difficulty level provides a different challenge to players. When a new game is started, certain locations on the map will move and change so that no playthrough will ever be the same. It’s a nice touch but this does mean that most online help will be useless. A nice way to make the game more difficult.

Acid Wizard Studio have done a great job on the atmosphere for this game. It’s tense and unnerving which can be a rare thing in this style of game which reminded me of the barely visible streets of Silent Hill. The creatures come in the dark and while the creatures themselves may not be terrible… waiting for them to get you is horrible. Not because there’s a bad atmosphere but because it’s so tense and terrifying. You end up praying the generator can hold out until daylight. Plus seeing the door open by itself is very unpleasant.

 

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Crafting in Darkwood is also very nice, however, it doesn’t add any new elements to this style of game. The system is simple and manageable so it’s not too difficult to use when you’re desperately trying to craft something before night comes.

In addition to the crafting system, there’s a currency system in the game. Players will meet a number of different traders throughout the game who will barter with the player for reputation and goods which you will need to survive. This adds a little bit more depth to the game by introducing a new element for players to deal with.

When out exploring the map, you’ll notice something very important. You can only see what’s been illuminated by your flashlight. As a result, I found myself swinging the torch around every 5 seconds to check for new areas or previously hidden items. It does get a little repetitive after a while but this does add to the rather tense and terrifying atmoshpere.

Darkwood does feature combat but this is quite clunky. I found myself aiming at enemies to hit it but then it runs past and you need to manoeuvre yourself to line up another attack. If you’re not familiar with games that use this type of movement with walking around and controlling the camera using the mouse then you will find this very awkward.

 

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It’s certainly a nice game and the first few hours have been very enjoyable for the most part. However, it does have some issues.

 

Pros 

  • Great atmosphere
  • Every playthrough is different
  • Various difficulty levels

 

Cons

  • Combat is clunky
  • Movement may be a bit awkward
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