Darkwood Review

I recently did a guest Steam review of Darkwood for Spectral Legion and thought I would share http://spectrallegion.com/viewtopic.php?f=53&t=303

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Darkwood is survival horror game being developed by Acid Wizard Studio. The game is currently in alpha 3.1.

In the prologue, you play as a shady doctor with cages in trapdoors in his house. After exploring his house, the first thing you do as directed by the character is put his mangled and dying dog down outside. Well fuck.

While exploring the woods nearby, you find an unconscious man wearing a trenchcoat and hat and take a key from him and drag him back to the doctor’s house. This doctor seems pretty unstable. Once back at the house, your perspective changes to that of the man in the trenchcoat whom is now locked within the house.

This part of the story really sets the atmosphere of the game. Wandering around the house, you come across a corpse that may or may not be yours, a generator asking for booze, and some other creepy stuff.

After the events of the doctors house unfold, you pass out and wake up in a hideout with this guy staring at you:

This is Wolfman. He drives the story along and acts as a merchant and source of information for your character.

The first night

Wolfy warns you of the terrors of the night as well as letting you know that you must drink from your well every night. Ok Wolfy…

Days run about 20 minutes long and at a certain point, you will be notified to return to your hideout to drink from the well.

Waiting for the well is kind of annoying. The well only fills up at around 21:30pm (according to the wiki) however there is no default clock in the game. At this time, the character gets a condition called The Thirst. If you don’t drink from the well, The Thirst will eventually turn into The Sickness which will deplete your health over time.

There are monsters that lurk during the day, but you’ll mostly see pissed off dogs out in the world for a while. At night, monsters and dogs like to hang out at your place and sometimes get into your place.

My first night playing the game was spent in fear. There’s not a lot of direction in the game and I had not checked the Darkwood Wiki yet, so I really don’t know what I’m doing at this point.

Here’s a highlight from my first night in Darkwood.

There are mechanics in place to prevent the player from getting too cozy in their hideout. Over time, a lovely plague will appear in the hideout floor and will spread each day if not maintained by burning it.

Also, some jerkface monsters will occasionally sneak into your house and fuck you up. Then the skill progression system itself will find a way to screw you over. When leveling up the first time, you are forced to take a skill called “Shadows” in addition to whatever you pick. If you are in the darkness at night for too long, a ghost-like swarm swirls around you and depletes your health. Always have a lightsource!

Crafting and Cooking

The crafting system is pretty basic right now. You can make SOME basic weapons, light sources, etc. and you can also find and learn recipes. Crafting can be done anywhere and when you do, it looks like you pull down your pants.

Cooking is used to advance through the skill leveling system.Cooking can only be done at the oven of your hideout and you cannot cook at night because it’s dangerous (duh).

The Map 

Image

The map does not show where you are, but marks down landmarks you encounter. You kind of need good awareness of your surroundings otherwise you can get lost for a long time. There are 3 biomes on the map, meadow (starting area), forest, and old woods.

Pros and Cons

Pros

The story and atmosphere of Darkwood are wonderfully creepy. It has a great way of setting the sound for certain characters or areas to make you tense up. The darkness is DARK. If you’re wandering around at night without a light source, you are screwed! The game does not hold your hand at all. It can be frustrating trying to find where you are after you’ve died, but the disorientation makes the forest feel huge. I really enjoy the Journal. The journal is where the protagonist writes down their experiences and objectives.

Cons

This game is in alpha. Acquiring reputation (vendor currency), at least in the beginning biome area, seems a little unbalanced.

I created a 2nd save file to try to make up for some bad decisions I made in my 1st save that was making it very difficult for me to progress. The Wolfman did not greet me after the doctor’s house, instead I woke up in the middle of a black wooded area and could not see landmark locations. I restarted the game to fix this. I finally found my hideout and a little bit of dialogue popped up in my kitchen without anyone there. That’s really creepy, but I think the Wolfman was actually supposed to be there talking to me based on what he says when I find him at his camp.

Really, most of the cons of Darkwood are just that it’s not finished yet. I will be holding out on playing it again for a little while until another update, but I’ve had a great, unsettling, and frustrating time playing so far!

Remember: Darkwood wants to keep you on your toes and probably also hates you.

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