[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap] had discovered Norwegian psychological horror game Through the Woods thanks to a shout-out by the Dreamfall Chapters team in their latest update. Being of the curious sort, and enjoying a good horror game that doesn’t focus on jump scares and monsters out for blood, I decided to check it out. Grabbing myself a copy of their early prototype demo I sat down to give it a spin. And what I found was exactly what I was expecting from the pitch.
In Through the Woods you’re playing as Karen, a mother who has lost her son in the forests of Norway. The most interesting and unique aspect of this game is that the narrative is being told during an interview with the police and you’re playing out pretty much what she describes during these conversations. If you mess up (and I did once during my playthrough) you get a brief bit of dialogue where Karen says she wants to backtrack and retell her account of events. And you end up at a nearby checkpoint with what appears to be a glowing stone covered in runes.
And sound does play an important part in Through the Woods. I found myself on edge throughout most of the journey and I ended up jumping around in certain areas due to weird nocturnal noises pervading the forested area. In fact, I got caught by some weird trollish giant thing stalking me towards the end of this slice of gameplay because I panicked and didn’t know what to do. Based on what Karen utters during her interrogation I can only surmise that this otherworldly being is the “Old Erik” that she speaks of taking children.
Here’s another thing that’s important to note with Through the Woods. You don’t have any weapons or “power ups” with you or that you can find littered throughout the landscape. The only tool you have is a trusty flashlight to shine your path. But, be careful with it for it can also attract unwanted attention. This is what happened to me. I was running through the woods with my light on and got caught. Some beasts will be startled and either run off or be momentarily blinded but creatures such as this one don’t give a damn about bright things in the darkness and do whatever it is they do with intruders.
While the majority of the demo is just Karen running around the woods trying to find clues to her lost son the ending leaves one on a bit of a cliffhanger. Inside of a cave, most likely inhabited by this “Old Erik” person, is found several children’s toys and possessions. Strewn throughout the cavern can be seen dolls and clothes of all sorts. She admits to seeking vengeance on this creature to the man that she’s been speaking to and it ends there.
The demo for Through the Woods is in very good shape for just an alpha prototype build. If this is the quality to be expected for the end release then anyone who’s a fan of this style of horror should feel right at home.