The bane of any work looking to inspire fear is the expected. Once you know where a monster will jump out, what noises are the rumblings of some unknown terror waiting to eat your face and what are just a cat chasing his shadow, and where and how you need to defend yourself, terror no longer has a foothold into your rational mind. The horror is scripted, and once you’ve read the script and seen how it plays out, the magic is gone. Darkwood, an indie survival horror game currently in the development stage, is looking to keep that from happening. Unlike most horror games, the map and events in Darkwood are randomly generated each time you jump in, meaning that each game will unfold differently than the last. You’ll know something bad is out there, but you don’t know when or where it will come at you, keeping the suspense and tension regardless if you are on your first run through Darkwood or your hundredth. The experience is meant to be different each time, and it is this promise that makes Darkwood so appealing.
The game itself is a top down open world experience, combining a roguelike core with some RPG elements. You will need to fight to survive, balancing close and ranged attacks against a variety of shadowy creatures hell bent on killing you. The environment is meant to be explored, and pillaging an abandoned house might help you find some bandages or some wooden planks you can use to barricade the house. Crafting is meant to play a major role in the game, allowing you to create new items, modify weapons into something more powerful, or build traps or barricades to prepare yourself for an onslaught of foes. Adding to the tension is the fact that death is meant to be permanent. Sure, some stuff carries over through playthroughs, but once you die you need to start over from the beginning. This mix of old school gameplay and psychological horror should be enough to get any fan of horror games salivating for a taste.
The developers recently launched an IndieGogo campaign, and are looking for $40,000 to get their game up and running. The minimum amount you can pledge is $10, but that gets you the full version of the game for download upon release. If you’re a fan of physical copies (and absolutely insane), that will set you back substantially more as the lowest pledge level that gets you the boxed edition is $120. There are a whole bunch of other goodies you can get along the way, including a strategy guide, sound track, and art book. The niftiest bonus is the ability to design a character that will appear in the game, but that privilege costs $1500 and isn’t even guaranteed as they won’t use ideas that “are offensive or out of place.” So there goes my dream of running for my life while fighting an army of Cap’n Crunches wielding chainsaws.
Check out the pre-alpha trailer below, and even at this early stage in development Darkwood is a game that absolutely should be on your radar. This is an all or nothing funding campaign, and if they can’t reach their goal then Darkwood will float off to the land of lost games as they don’t anticipate being able to finish the project. They’re nearing the halfway point with over two weeks left, so at the very least it looks like their baseline goal is within reach. Still, as promising as this game looks, you might want to kick in at least $10 to make sure they reach it.