Through the Woods Review

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After an initial introduction the character of the mother begins a narration, which immediately shows that this isn’t just a random lost and found horror, it’s one that has deep meaningful and quite sad elements. A mother looking after her son alone, who initially didn’t have that automatic bond and now that she has, the worst has happened. She’s isolated in many ways and she needs to find her son, all on her own, in the middle of a seemingly otherwordly part of Norway. A comparison can be made to The Park (which we reviewed), but this game isn’t replicating, it’s it’s own world and crafted uniquely and accordingly.

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As you explore you’ll note how big the environment is but at the same time, how lacking it is in any interaction. You pick up a trail of items left behind supposedly, by Espen, but there is a vast majority of this game where everything is just there to be looked at and walked through. There’s no path indicator of where to go, there’s just hunting through the woods for your son, which is a pro in how it really captures the sense of scrambled frantic searching that would happen in a real life scenario, but can be a con from a game play point of view, if you feel there’s no direction.

The game borrows heavily from Norwegian lore, which is intriguing to learn about and woven well into the mood and exploration. When night falls, the safety you feel amongst the trees completely diminishes and that’s before the monsters come out. Suddenly there’s more life here and it’s not the kind that is comforting. Stealth plays it’s part in avoiding the beasts and being wary is advised.

Environments are extremely packed and lush, which helps make up for a lack in great textures up close. Rolling river water especially looks poor, but the atmosphere of the woods and lakes and the dense growth around you overtakes any nitpicking of graphic flaws. You’ll roam through ancient Nordic villages and wonder if this is just a well preserved hidden part of Scandinavia or if you’ve traveled back in time. But the rust of the metal swords and helmets, reminds you that this is the now.

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Voice acting is a mixed bag, sometimes it seems extremely flat, at least on the mothers side, who you play and will hear the most of. There are times when she is overwrought with panic and that comes across well but when she’s recollecting her story, it can be very dead toned and sometimes that fits with the sad nature of what she’s discussing, but other times it just seems uninterested. Espen’s voice actor does a really good job of evoking mischief and honesty that becomes a kid that age wanting to explore and get their parent to be less focused on work and other unfortunate adult responsibilities.

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The soundtrack is haunting and befitting of the atmosphere and themes present in the game. Without a doubt Antagonist Games have crafted something that wants to tell a story of it’s own, while utilizing the mystery of it’s homelands lore and put their mark on a survival horror that may not do anything new in terms of game play but can’t be called rushed or boring. There’s real life fear triggers to this game, accompanied by an immersive surrounding that showcases great effort despite any graphically issues or flat dialogue executions. It’s currently on Steam and at the time of this review going live, part of a Halloween Sale and for the price of £15 it’s worth picking up if you enjoy spooky games and a heavy dose of atmospheric lore.

3-5stars

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