Published on May 15th, 2019 | by Tory Favro
Darkwood PS4 Review
Summary: A gorgeous top down survival horror game, Darkwood will draw you into it's world of evil.
I really thought that I would not like this game when I started. I am a big fan of horror games and most survival games, but I was worried about the fact that the game was described as a top down survival horror game. Could this actually work? I didn’t think so, and after playing through Darkwood, I am so pleased to say that yes it does work and very well at that.
Foreboding at first, the game actually tells you that you “You are playing a challenging and unforgiving game. You will not be led by the hand.” It is not lying. Darkwood wants you to fail in order to learn and ultimately succeed. In a lot of games this is not very well done and gamers simply give up and throw down the controller. Darkwood’s presentation is so good that it makes you want to keep going and learn just what the heck is going on.
The top down style works. The graphics are quite stylistic and sort of remind me of 8 bit or pixel games but a little more detailed. The top down style amazingly looks fantastic and the fact that often you are presented with only really poor light sources to work with makes for some intense moments in the game. Nothing is as it seems in this game and this is learned very early on in the piece. It is set in a Polish village in the 80’s and gives you so many options that you will be able to play this game for some time. There is a sense of dread playing it, which I never thought would be conveyed so well with a top down presentation, but this game is going to keep you on your toes the whole time in your quest for answers and survival.
Venturing from the safety of your home is a must in this game. I don’t want to wreck any of this for you but there are dangers both earthly and unearthly that you must contend with. Getting back to the safety of your house or areas that you have rebuilt is a must by night time with lights blazing to help keep the evil outside away. Even this doesn’t guarantee your safety and barriers must be made by gather equipment that will barricade your home sufficiently. There is certainly a strategy involved in this that is very rewarding once you work it out. Like the game tells you; it’s not going to help you.
One thing I will tell you to help a bit is that if you must venture (and you must), then make sure you take a weapon of some sort with you. There are random encounters with enemies that will destroy you with nothing to defend yourself and you can safely assume that no one is this world wants to be your friend. I was wiped out a number of times until I made sure I had enough things on me that could be used to help me keep safe and out of harm’s way.
Items can be crafted and brewed, some of them on the fly but most will require time at a workstation or cooktop. There is a basic combat system that works in this world and to be honest I was pleased that it had been kept simple as there is so much more to keep track of than just fighting. Hallucinogens assist you with abilities but also can backfire making things even more nightmarish for you. It is another cool aspect of the game that takes as it gives. Working out when and where to use these items to best effect is fun and once again gets easier the more you play and get comfortable.
Graphically as previous mentioned, the game has a pixel appearance but is inherently beautiful. The way the game shows shadows and reflected light is gorgeous and really is a delight. Often your only light sources are a torch or flame with limited scope, so I was constantly worried about what might be in the shadows. Even daytime has a foggy look to it, dreary even, but the night is when light is might.
From an audio standpoint, Darkwood shines. The soundscape is enough to induce panic at times and a feel of danger. Creaks, moans and other bestial sounds populate the game and really immerse you in this horrible world you find yourself in. The whole experience is testament to a game extremely well down.
If you want a good horror game, this is one for you. It has been put together just right and is a right good time to be had. There is a balance that has been achieved here and it is based on that I thoroughly recommend this title as one you really should own. Enjoy!