When I think of gaming horror I tend to also think of Resident Evil or Silent Hill because these are the games that basically built the horror genre. I don’t want you thinking from the off I’m comparing Through The Woods to those two giants but as far as a traditional horror goes this game is well rooted. Take that as a pun if you choose to do so. So the question is; will Through the Woods make you need new pants? Or will it have your hairs standing on end? Let’s find out shall we.
The game starts off with a young mother living with her son Espen in a small cabin surrounded by nothing but trees and a lake. One morning the mother wakes up to find Espen has left a note saying he has gone down to the dock. It’s here that the story quickly spirals into a nightmare for the young mother as on the way to the dock you see Espen being abducted by a man in an old Nordic fishing boat. From here you need to swim after the boat until you arrive at an island clouded by mystery and fog.
The island immediately puts you on edge as all is not as it seems. There are small Nordic villages, abandoned for years, with skeletons littering the place. Armed with only a flashlight, the ability to sneak around and a mother’s instinct, this island will take the strongest of mothers to conquer it.
There isn’t much to the gameplay other then following a certain path or crawling through caves into the next part of the island. Along the way you will have to avoid the dreaded creatures that lurk amongst the trees and darkness. These creatures come in different forms and are all part of Norse mythology. Witches, trolls, wolves and the dreaded huldra which when you hear it, becomes the most terrifying part of the game. The hairs on your arms will stand up when you hear the noise this thing makes. This was a part of the game where I just held down the run button and never looked back. To put into perspective just how much the huldra put the shits up me, I cannot even describe what the evil bitch looks like in order to warn you because I never turned round once to check.
Most of the enemies in the game are fairly easy to get past as they have a set pattern that they follow, except the huldra of course. Trolls are slow and dumb with a yellow eye that stands out in the darkness so they’re easy to track and avoid. The wolves come later on in the game, as does the witch, but I can’t say too much on those as this review would need to come with a spoiler warning.
In terms of scares, the atmosphere, creatures, and horrifying Norse mythology do all the talking for Through The Woods. Seriously, take a look at some of the Norse mythology stories and some of them will put the creeps right up you. The atmosphere built within this game is a stand out point and one that for anyone who plays using a headset will learn all about. Branches are snapping around you as you make your way through the trees making you constantly check your surroundings, with the grunts and screams of creatures in the night thrown in just to put the heebie jeebies up you.
Graphically the game looks nice, but it will never stand up against the likes of its predecessors such as Evil Within or Resident Evil 7. Trough The Woods still holds its own in the horror genre and does a stand up job. The lighting effects given off by the Sun and the Moon make the land come to life throughout different times of the day. At points I found myself stopping just to take a look around and appreciate the hard work that has gone into making the game. From time to time the game will suffer from a slight frame rate drop causing it to jutter and stagger for a few small moments, but for the most part everything runs smoothly.
One notable point is the impeccable voice acting of the characters. While the main character is good, the main enemy is even better. Their voice goes straight through you and is one of those where he could literally say ‘pink fluffy bunnies’ and it would still send a shiver down your spine.
I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I did also find a slight issue with the camera rotation, especially when spinning 360 degrees. At times the character would turn, but the camera wouldn’t follow instantly and would stick for a split second or so before eventually catching up. Nothing too major in all honesty, but worth mentioning because in a game where you need to check your surroundings for mythical creatures, a 360 spin can be fairly important.