If you’re in a giving mood this fine Thursday, an indie video game might just need your help to cross their Kickstarter goal before the campaign ends soon.
The game is titled Through the Woods, and it is primarily inspired by the third-person horror games of the past like Silent Hill, Resident Evil, and Fatal Frame. It comes from Norwegian developer Antagonist, and is influenced by Norse mythology and Norwegian folk tales.
The goal they’ve set is only $40,000, and, as of the writing of this spotlight, they’re at around $34,000 with only a couple of days remaining. You can read much more about the game and watch a bunch of videos below.
Here’s what Through the Woods is about:
Through the Woods tells a personal and serious story in a setting inspired by Norwegian folk tales and Norse mythology. A woman is being interrogated by a man and is asked a straightforward yet difficult question: “Where is your son?” The mother begins to tell her story, and the game begins.
Playing as Karen, you must find your way through the woods, and to your son. The only thing you have to help you is a flashlight, which you must decide carefully when to use. The forest is dark, and a little light helps with navigating, but it also makes you more visible to the unknown things that lurk in the woods. Switching off the flashlight may be safer, as it lets the protagonist focus her other senses on avoiding danger, but it makes navigation difficult.
The game’s narrative is delivered through the dialogue in the interrogation room, describing the player’s actions in the past tense, slowly unfolding the mystery of why your son has been taken. Instead of focusing on ‘jumpscares’, the game is meant to instill a lasting sense of dread in the player. This brooding menace is delivered in a slow drip as part of a narrative, interactive experience, with fear and melancholia as the two opposing points of the emotional spectrum.
Here’s some info on what to expect from the gameplay:
The main gameplay of Through the Woods revolves around exploration, avoiding the dangers of the forest, uncovering the mystery around what happened to your son through collecting story elements and driving the narrative forward by unlocking dialogue along the way.
The audio also acts as a core gameplay mechanic, giving you a warning as to what creature may be lurking nearby. By learning from each encounter you can figure out the best way to deal with whatever you meet and whether you run away, hide, or blind your foe with your flashlight.
So, why third-person? We have received a lot of questions about why we don’t we go for first-person instead. Some people say that first-person is the standard for horror, that it would make you feel more immersed, like you’re actually there. The thing is, this story isn’t about you. We are telling Karen’s story from her perspective, and we feel that the best way to do that is to let you observe her actions as you move through the game world.
As mentioned above, the game relies heavily on sounds, which should add a lovely little layer of terror to your experience playing it. Here’s more on that:
The sound design of Through the Woods plays a very special role in the game and, unlike most other games, actually acts as a core mechanic.
On your journey through the forest and across the island, you will come across various enemies and creatures. Some will want to harm you and some will just be protecting their territory, forcing you to take another path.
Each creature has its own theme and, based on what you know about their behavior from previous encounters, the sound design will help you survive in the darkness of the woods. You will usually hear the creatures before you see them, which gives you a little time to prepare your approach, and turning off your flashlight will help you focus your hearing on whatever lies ahead; our night-blindness / sound-focus mechanic.
Some creatures will chase you if you run, so if you recognise the sound of this creature you can quickly hide and sneak to pass by. Others will charge at you and kill you in the darkness but fear the beam of your flashlight.
Lastly, here’s a little more info into what inspired the game:
We have taken inspiration from several sources for the art style and environments of the game, mostly from the Norwegian artists, Theodor Kittelsen and Lars Hertervig. Their work is melancholy and unusual, and perfectly represents the uncomfortable atmosphere we want to create in the game.
We’ve also taken a lot of inspiration from Norse mythology and old Norwegian folk tales. You will be able to find and collect lore throughout the forest that enrichens the environment and story, and also discover runes carved into rocks and trees that you can translate with a little ingenuity.
After watching the trailer for the game I got a real Trollhunter vibe, which was awesome because that movie was also out of Norway and based on Norwegian folktales. Watching more videos (which can be found on the developer’s YouTube channel) on the game I found out that that movie did indeed play a part in inspiring the game, which was even more awesomer! If you haven’t seen the movie, be sure to check it out on Netflix or grab your very own copy.
The team working on the game has been making it for the better part of a year now already, so plenty of it has been completed. But they’ve been doing much of the work on their own dime and computers, and funds are running low and equipment is not working so hot anymore. So a little assistance is required.
Antagonist is a small game developer, and this is their first big game, so it’s exciting to see them pushing through and making sacrifices on their way to hopefully finding great success. One of the groups that has helped support them in their endeavor and with challenges they’ve faced is fellow Norwegian developer Krillbite Studios, who also found success via Kickstarter funding their horror title Among the Sleep.
If you’d like to learn more about Through the Woods and perhaps throw a little coin their way, you can head to their Kickstarter campaign page now.