I’ve played my fair share of this new wave of “immersive” survival horror games that have made resurgence over the past few years, and for the most part they’ve been similar experiences. Alien: Isolation and Outlast are essentially the same game; the same can be said for Day Z, The Forest, H1Z1 and Rust. These titles all borrow significantly from one another and manage to inspire horror their respective ways, but the genre really feels like it’s starting to lull, especially considering the fact that a lot of these titles have yet to leave early access. Considering the problems I just listed I’m sure you can understand my skepticism when I heard about Antagonist’s latest horror creation, Through the Woods, but I found that after spending close to a half-hour slowly exploring everything I came across I must admit I let down my guard and allowed the world absorb me.
Players will assume the role of Karen, a woman being questioned by the police regarding her missing son. I took my time really trying to explore every last detail of Through the Woods and though it did initially seem like another generic experience, I soon found myself intrigued by the subtle story progression, and once the tension began to build, I found myself genuinely fearful. The creatures presented in Through the Woods sounded like familiar groaning zombies, but once examined under the beam of a flashlight it was clear they weren’t. Their designs reminded me of something one would see in Dark Souls or Bloodborne – fascinating creatures ripped from Norse mythology with exaggerated features and lumbering stances disguising their menacing intent.
"I soon found myself intrigued by the subtle story progression, and once the tension began to build, I found myself genuinely fearful."
There were interesting details also strewn through the environment. Runes exist for those that dare to explore, and if deciphered they reveal more story for players to enjoy. I enjoyed the trail of reflectors that were left behind for me to follow, and the interesting give-and-take mechanics of using a flashlight to stay on the trail or trying to remain quiet and undetected. I can only hope that the developers continue to build upon this aspect as the game goes on because it could definitely create some serious tension.
"I really look forward to engaging on more adventures in its atmospheric universe. Color me intrigued. If you’re a fan of horror you should be too."
Textures were rough at points, but the sense of dread and the overall dark atmosphere were captured quite well, so much so that after a while I began to ignore the graphics in favor of the atmosphere. In terms of audio, the voice recordings sounded a bit rough, not in terms of voice acting, but in terms of actual recording quality which was a bit disappointing. The rest of the game’s audio cues were spot-on though, and they added to both the reward and the tension of discovery.
Through the Woods is definitely a game I will continue to keep my eyes on. I enjoyed the few minutes I spent exploring the world and I really look forward to engaging on more adventures in its atmospheric universe. Color me intrigued. If you’re a fan of horror you should be too.
Preview by: Palmer Sturman | Previewed on: PC