Horror games are a strange genre. They can easily go very wrong indeed, just look at Don’t Knock Twice. In no way scary, and in no way full of atmosphere. A bland and dull experience that left everyone feeling deflated. Other titles like Silent Hill and Resident Evil have fared better with fans and critics alike. Now we have Through the Woods, an Indie horror title that has a young mother searching for her missing son in a remote woodland in the beautiful countryside of Norway. Is it full of mystery, intrigue and horror? Or does it belong anywhere else but your console? Let’s find out.
The Norwegian developer opted for a game set in their home country, in a remote woodland area where a small cabin is now home to a young woman as she tells the story about her relationship with her son and even regret and a lack of love. A heartbreaking situation, but one that evolves over time as the story progresses. The beginning of the game sees you assume control of the young boy briefly, as you arrive at the western shore of Norway. It all soon turns sour, after the boy disappears in mysterious circumstances.
The scenery and setting of Norway isn’t one I’ve happened upon before, and it does make a refreshing change. Given it’s the home country of the developer, it makes sense for them to explore their own settings and mythology, which I’m sure they’re fully aware of. It’s a passing interest for me, so I can’t confirm accuracy, but I doubt they’ve made mistakes there.
Venturing forth it soon turns to dusk and night time. Notes left lying around pertain to an individual who may be responsible for your son’s disappearance. Abandoned villages and other creepy locations for the landscape with no actual direction offered, rather allowing the player to explore their surroundings and discover a path that advances the story. Early on I found this difficult as navigating at night with just a torch left me heading in circles and back on myself in search of where I was meant to go.
It’s not a case of just running off in the direction of the end game, as you will soon chance upon creatures that will be more than happy to thwart your journey to find you son, and if you’re unlucky, you will most certainly meet an untimely end. The first of which I encountered was a giant troll. I did find a bug here, whereby he would run around in circles around me as I cowered silently, unable to kill me and left me unable to escape. Other times he would spawn directly on the path in front of me, hindering progress. Not sure if this is intentional, but it does frustrate when your only option is to die.
Incidental noises and sounds litter the game in place of a musical score to accompany the game play, which fits the bill. Character animation isn’t perfect, and the lack of any real expressions leave the protagonist feeling a little bit wooden. It’s playable, so that’s not a problem, but the overall experience doesn’t pertain to a full on horror, but does have an air of creepy about it.
Overall Score 6/10
Through the Woods offers a valiant attempt at generating a world of despair, and horror with mythological beings while you frantically search for your missing son. Notes left lying about the world help fill you in on lore, and are worth collecting. But a robotic animation of the protagonist dulls the atmospheric surroundings. The horror aspect isn’t one that fully immersed the player, but doesn’t rub it out completely either. It’s like it brings to to the event horizon of horror and just sits there. Maybe a sale would tempt you?
Publisher: 1C Company
Release Date: 2nd May 2018
File Size: 5.54GB
Xbox One Copy provides for review purpose
Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 & Steam