Find resources during the day, survive at night. Surely the approach sounds, but it is also sure that you had never seen it raised as in the work of Polish Acid Wizard Studio. A challenging video game with a brilliant atmosphere. We discovered it in our analysis of Darkwood.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about Darkwood is how it is able to offer a dark atmosphere through the overhead perspective, and also without making use of great technical resources. I would dare to say that a great part of its success lies in its sound setting, in listening to the enemy presence on the other side of the door, and to see how little by little it is getting closer through the footsteps.
Of course, there are other aspects that manage to define the interesting work of the Poles of Acid Wizard Studio. The most important is its powerful exploration with touches of survival, which seems to embrace recent exponents of the genre such as Do not Starve. Their mechanics are similar: get a lot of elements from the environment to crafter tools with which to get safe from the horrible creatures that you will find during the night. Create barricades to hide, or defend yourself by charging directly against them. The game has a strategic touch, where it matters a lot what you do at each moment.
I do not like to say that it is not a videogame for everyone, but it is undoubtedly not aimed at all kinds of audiences. You will have a hard time not only through the care setting but also through its challenging difficulty. It is not full of action, and most of the time you will spend it exploring, creating tools, in addition to trying to understand where the hell you are and what is the next thing you must do to move forward. This is Darkwood, an indie project made by three students that were released on PC a couple of years ago and now comes to consoles with the backing of the critics behind them.
The forest developer’s comment that their inspirations were David Lynch (Twin Peaks), which reflects the aura of mystery and surrealism, along with that uncomfortable suspense for intuiting that something horrible is about to happen. They also cite Fallout or Project Zomboid, in addition to Dark Souls, precisely for creating a story in which nothing is evident, but we must be the ones who find and give order to the pieces of the narrative puzzle.
What is it about? All we can (and should) tell you is that we are in a gloomy forest in Soviet territory. Nothing else. It will sound strange to you so cryptic description, but it is that the game starts the same: in white. You do not know who you are or where you are. The lack of information is always uncomfortable, but this is also a factor with which Darkwood plays so that you feel more lost and helpless if possible.
Speaking of helplessness, the video game presents three levels of difficulty, and in the highest death implies the end of the journey. It is not a simple title, nor is it short: it will take you approximately 15-20 hours. All through environments that are procedurally generated, which means that it is not worth learning locations of enemies or objects, as well as the events that take place. Rather, here the really important thing is to learn to survive, regardless of the threat that comes for you. Therefore, the only guide that will serve you is one that you build through your experience, of what is useful or not to overcome a certain situation.
In the videogame, it is important to run, as well as dodge and attack the enemies. Here everything consumes resistance, and life already we anticipate that it is scarce (as well as the possibilities of healing us). This supports the sense of survival of the narrative and ambiance pillars, giving rise to an experience that keeps you always in suspense. It seems a lie if you see the screenshots that accompany this analysis of Darkwood, but it is. Also, if you play with helmets, the sensations improve even a little more.
We were able to try Darkwood on the Nintendo Switch, with very positive results. The load times are extremely high (a wait of just over 2 minutes each time we load game), but everything else behaves perfectly. I would say that in portable mode it is better played when visualizing in greater detail the graphical section of the game, besides that the sound treatment of the speakers is very convincing, even without helmets. Good fluidity and treatment of lighting on this platform is highly recommended to enjoy this adventure of survival.
Note that the video game comes translated into Spanish and that despite the low production values, it has a prominent lighting system, which will probably be what you most notice in your games. Light is important in an adventure full of darkness, where there will be no shortage of anguish or the anguish of being on the verge of death, without resources, and with monsters lurking outside the window or door.
You must keep in mind that this is not Resident Evil, nor a Silent Hill. It is a very different work, to think things strategically and reflect on the events that take place. It also requires a lot of time, and it is not easy, something that those who want to try it should value, since this goes on stocking up during the day and surviving at night, blocking doors with furniture and generating barricades. If you are not afraid of frustration, you will find it satisfying to resist the monsters that swarm through the game.
An indie of terror and survival that reminds me of Do not Starve mechanics and in ambiance to greats of the genre like Silent Hill. With a blunt degree of challenge and paused mechanics, as well as strategic, Darkwood is not a title aimed at a broad spectrum of users. However, if you are not afraid of frustration, it is a game that can give you many joys, accompanied by the odd start, along the way, thanks to its careful lighting and sound section.
- Good and abundant survival options, with a lot of looting and crafting
- The enigmatic of the plot incites to advance to continue discovering things
- Lighting is the most surprising aspect visually
- Sound section very immersive
- The approach can be confusing and involves a lot of dedication
- The rhythm of the game and its difficulty limit the scope: not suitable for impatient
- Changing times too high (tested version: Nintendo Switch)
- Very careful setting: you will feel the helplessness of being alone in a forest