Demo of Through the Woods

The backers of Antagonist Games received a demo of the start of their Kickstarter, Through the Woods this week.
Finally the mac version became available and I was eager to try it. As previously posted, I was dismayed but resigned to the fact that 2 games are being made that step hugely into the area to The Road Up to Hell, so, as before I will write this review as both a huge fan and friend of the Antagonist guys, but tinge it with some slightly tongue in cheek “sour grapes”

Firstly I must say that my poor mac was not nearly man enough to handle the game, I hope they can optimise it a bit later, for the final product. I had to reduce the graphics to LOW just to get it to run. I must admit that I have had similar problems in TRUTH, but seem to have succeeded a little better than Antagonist, now I can only really improve my game by getting the pro version of Unity, which I can not hope to afford any time soon. I can feel in the lag that they are doing something, the frame rate drops when approaching buildings and the non torch view seemed sluggish, I suspect the post effects, but sitting and waiting for a second seemed to help, which makes no sense, its not YouTube… but I could get through, so I tried to ignore this, but for some reason you get a really stuff wrist from it…

To the game itself. The voiceover, being a post story interview with a Psychiatrist, was pure genius! And for a change the voice acting wasn’t bad. The recording was well done with the Shrinks voice being a little “off mike”. The accent of the Mother was also quite spot on, as Norwegians speaking English often get this really weird tinge of American to their voice, but IM pretty sure she WAS norsk.
It starts slow, which I like and the sound effects are good, I wish they were louder to be honest, the voice comes in so loud in comparison. Also, its NOT that quiet in the woods, and silence doesnt seem scary to me, its calming.. a more dense and compressed sound picture would have been better IMHO.
The idea that the kid had an endless supply of reflectors that guide you was a bit far fetched to me, but who cares, I can hardly say that shining magical deer that lead you to weird spiky hills with telescopes on top is exactly realistic (A spoiler from my game) and kids DO collect all kinds of shit in their pockets.So Ill accept that… But I thought they missed an opportunity here, if the trail had been a trail of stuff her kid dropped, she could have picked them up and used them, so it would have been like the kid was “helping”. I know it doesn’t work with Antagonists UI model (as in, there ISNT ONE) but it didn’t need to be like TRUTH with an inventory and interface, it could just have been, “I used the yoyo string on the door handle”. But I guess they are determined to stick to their “Amnesia” template (no wait.. theres a inventory there too).. Their template.. and not deal with.. “oh no I have to go all the way back and fetch the yoyo” issues…
The modelling was pretty generic… The houses felt similar to some asset store packs I have and IM not sure but they definitely used the same environment packs as me , I obviously have no problem with doing that, but it did make it look very similar to mine in places. The terrain texturing was very poor however, although this might have been as a result of my low low settings… but I spent alot of time tweaking (without knowing what the hell I was doing) the terrain shader, to use normal maps and that helped alot. There were also terrible bush billboards, which rotated to face me while I was very close, again, probably my settings, but lavender? Never seen lavender in a Norwegian Wood.

The atmosphere built quite nicely, and I had no problem with the door open fails, Im sure I would have enjoyed exploring more if it wasn’t for the frame rate. I lost my way a couple of times and found myself going back down the path the wrong way, an audible hint might have been fun here… its a very linear game after all, so a variable trigger with a voiceover.. ” I retraced my steps a little to see if I had missed something” would have been possible, but too many of them would get generic, maybe?

The moment when the door shut behind you and she screamed, well the scream was a bit too much at that stage… I would have preferred a muttered “oh my god”.

But then the (Spoiler Alert) Troll attack. funnily enough on my first play through it worked fantastically… For some reason, the growling and a clear path encouraged me to run, so without even getting a glimpse of the troll I ran into the cave, stopped, turned around, and jumped out of my skin as the Troll was there and dropped a stone on the entrance. FANTASTIC!!! What a brilliant thing… I didn’t get a too good look too early (Amnesia keeps you from seeing the monster for ages, soon as you do, funs over) and it was a jump scare, but now I could only go on… but I didn’t…heh heh… being a geek, I quit and started again… but unfortunately the next time I got to that bit of the wood I hung a round looking for the Troll… and there it was lumbering towards me, and thwack.. dead… spawn. Meh… was more fun the previous time… But how could they have done that? Force MY first experience? Easy!…well simply NOT spawned the Troll till I was in the cave, forced me so stop.. fall over for example, look around, Troll feet, Rock BLAM darkness… eyes adjust to cave… torch on again… LEVEL TWO.. but seeing the troll so clearly was less scary and more… “ok here comes the game”.

On the whole was was quite impressed with my own game, TRUTH looks better, plays better, and will have much more things to do, but is lacking the strong normal “story” that Through the Woods has, very strong, very usable and makes me very keen to play the rest. Of course my game is a totally different thing with my proposed multi player storywriting feature, and less obvious, but weirder locations.

But this is just the start scene, an I have a good feeling that Through the Woods is going to be a great game!

very much looking forward to playing

So go and back them now…
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1854868411/through-the-woods/