Darkwood Alpha review

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Darkwood Alpha review

Post by Monphat » Sun Sep 28, 2014 12:28 pm


I'd like to give a review for Darkwood, the game I've been playing for some time now and which I enjoy very much even at the Alpha stage. I am an avid horror enthusiast, I like all mediums involved with the genre: films, books, video games, creepypastas, youtube series etc. etc. When first gameplay videos from Darkwood appeared, I decided to give it a go and I was not disappointed. Now I'd like to give a list of things I liked and disliked, hoping that my review would help developers in some way. I had no time to read the forums in detail, so if you'd see that some common praises and complaints are mentioned in review or that some suggestions and a couple of bug reports are not appropriate for this section, I'd like to apologize in advance. So, here we go!

What I liked:

- Mechanics. I think those are pretty well done, even as of now. I have a lot of respect for the implementation of "field of view" and how effectively it works. I'd like to see how much mechanics would be improved in the future with all upcoming features like optimized light system etc.

- Atmosphere, artistic style, world-building. As a person who is both living in post-Soviet slavic country and is a horror fan, I really love what developers have done with the world of Darkwood. Hopelessness, desperation, sickness, decay, poverty, darkness, madness (all familiar themes in my country) as well as environment and little touches (Gagarin, tractors, Wolf game) are working extremely well in conjunction, creating unforgettable atmosphere of post-modern slavic creepiness and horror.

- Visual and audio design. I am impressed with what you have done so far. Begotten-styled intro, animations and especially sound are all top-notch. I love the attention to detail in this game, I hope it would stay that way.

- Horror factor. I appreciate how you blend different types of horror in Darkwood. You use creepiness ("Something is very very wrong"), terror (physical danger) and revulsion (cruelty). This combination works very well, it's great.

What I disliked:

- Combat system. I agree with what is said about the subject here because while combat should not be easy, it should be more familiar to common players.

- Resources system. On my first run I've encountered a massive problem which forced me to restart the game - severe lack of resources. While I agree that you should be very careful with how you use the things at your disposal, actual limit on things available to new player may force him into position when everything is wasted on mismanagement and deaths. Resources in the "safe zone" are wasted, so player can't get to rich "deep woods" areas, which forces him to stay at home and wait for inevitable death. I know that this game is meant to be challenging, but this is too much, there should be a way to get resources from some other source. Hopefully your changes to world-generation will address this problem.

- Items and death. Aside from skill penalties, death is pretty cheap in Darkwood if all your items can be hoarded into garderobe with perfect safety. In order to avoid wasting my wood and nails, I often prefer to hoard mushrooms (accumulating huge amounts of essense to use it at once later) and items, allowing monsters to kill me. There is something very wrong with this system.

- Trick #1 - Save-scumming and game-breaking exploit. I have found a way to exploit the game pretty hard with what I consider game-breaking hole in the code and I really hope that you are aware of it by now since I haven't found any references to it in bug report section.


In addition to usual save-scumming when you go to main menu the minute stomper appears, there is another thing. Have you known that if you turn off the game just after death (but until you awake at your home) fast enough, then game would not have a time to register it? As a result, when you will load your save again, you will awake at your home at the same minute you were on when you turned game off. Your character would be in perfect health, his skills and items would not be harmed in any way. Sometimes when I do this, monsters I was fighting before turning game off would appear harmed when I'd return to their location. In short - I've recreated "Edge of Tomorrow" cheat which allowed me to stroll through the game like I was invincible. Needless to say, it was devastating to the horror factor of Darkwood. This needs to be fixed ASAP.


Some suggestions:

- More explanations for why you need to drink from the well would be appreciated.
- More focus on creepy, less on terror. Give more dialogue to existing NPC's, flesh them out.
- Add fog to the game.
- Maybe IG day should last a bit longer, it's going way too fast as of now.
- Give a character some need to eat and sleep (at day time) once in a while, make him drink more often.
- Give players a chance to revisit dream sequences and complete them properly.
- NPC's don't react to monsters storming their property - this should be changed.
- NPC's are ok with you stealing from them - this should be changed.
- More ways to defend your house, more ways to change it's structure would be appreciated.
- Less safety for your items, you need to defend them properly.
- Spoiler function should be added to the forum.


I think that Darkwood is a great game, I've enjoyed the Alpha version much and I wish the success to development team, hoping that they will do their best to improve this game to it's maximum potential.


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Re: Darkwood Alpha review

Post by Rednecklawrence » Sat Nov 28, 2015 3:54 pm

I see we've had an influx of Russian bots...
"It ain't illegal until you get caught" - Rene Soetaert

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