Darkwood Review — Help Wanted
Try to escape a haunting forest with an intriguing cast of characters in Darkwood.
Darkwood is a mysterious and tense survival horror that truly makes you feel desperate in its blightful world. In it, you are alone exploring through an expansive wooded area finding supplies to better protect yourself from the creatures that live around you. Throughout the world, you will run into oddities of characters like a Wolfman as well as other characters who have already perished from the plague. Originally, this plague caused the forest to expand intensely to the point where no one could get in or out which caused the people and creatures to mutate. Playing as an unknown stranger, your mission is to find a way out of the Darkwood.
During the daytime, you go out to explore to find items and materials to craft as well as find new locations that may help you progress through the map. Once nighttime approaches, your light will slowly change from yellow to orange, to red. By night, you have to return to your hideout and survive until morning. The reasoning behind this is that each hideout has a kitchen with an oven that omits a protective gas so the plague cannot reach you. However, you will have to make barriers and traps so that none of the creatures of the night will infiltrate your hideout.
In the kitchen is a cooking pot which will allow you to cook mushrooms among other foods. This will lead to you creating a dosage that you inject yourself with giving you new skills. The skills give you a variety of things whether they have to do will health, survival, or damage output. What makes the skills in Darkwood interesting however is that when you choose a positive skill, you also have to choose a negative one keeping things more balanced and making you still feel human and vulnerable.
At night, you can also go out and explore, but it is much harder. You consistently have the plague chasing you and eating away at your health. New creatures appear only at night and hit much harder and take much more damage to kill. The music transcends louder and louder which sets a nice atmosphere for the horror. It made me more and more on edge as to what was going to happen. I would not recommend going out at night unless you are very well suited for it. The hideouts have a generator attached which can light up the building, but at night, it can end up attracting enemies. Be sure to consider whether or not you want your house lit up at night.
While you are at your hideout during the night, occasionally there will be an event that takes place. At one point, I was sitting in the corner of my hideout feeling helpless and had no idea as to what was going to happen to me or whether or not I was going to make it through the night. Out of nowhere, I hear someone (or something) knock on the door, leading me to yell. I proceed to open the front door and there was nothing, no one.
After night has passed, a traveler comes to your house known as the Trader who sells you quality items. You purchase these items with a currency known as reputation. Each time you survive a night you gain reputation. You will run into numerous characters that also require reputation to gain items from them. However, each NPC has its own reputation currency so whatever reputation you have for the Trader, for example, will differ with another character.
As a whole, I have mixed feelings about Darkwood. When I watched the trailer for this game originally I was very intrigued by the world it takes place in. When I finally got my hands on the game, it was rough for me personally. I love exploring but I don’t like the way you have to progress through the world. Every time you start a new game things are randomized. Locations on your map differ from others who play it. Darkwood is not for people who like to have their hands held through games, like me. With the relatively small amount of time I get to play games, I do not want to play one where I have to figure out anything and everything by myself.
The art style of Darkwood is really great and fits the tone. While this is not a tech-heavy game I experienced extremely long load times. Granted this might be a problem specifically on the Nintendo Switch which is the platform I reviewed this for, but the load times were absurd. Specifically, when you load into the game it took what felt like two minutes for things to start. Hopefully, this is something the developers can resolve in a patch. The game originally released on PC through an Indiegogo campaign. The controls can be clunky at times and you can tell that this experience was built for the PC platform specifically.
Everything that I think Darkwood is going for does a good job in doing just that. It’s a survival-horror game that does not rely on jump scares to get you encapsulated in its world. Darkwood is a game I struggled to personally enjoy at times because there is a certain level of patience that it expects out of you from its base level that I acknowledge I just don’t have. It’s just not my type of game, but I also know what’s here isn’t bad by any means.
Darkwood is a game that more people should know about because there is so much here to be loved for those who like this genre. With a $14.99 price tag, it has a fair amount of replayability. For such a small price, I think this makes it worth it. Even though this was not a game for me specifically, I know others looking for an experience like this won’t be disappointed.