Through the Woods: Horror From Across the Pond

Through the Woods: Horror From Across the Pond

A team of Nordic developers wants to scare you with monsters from their culture.

While I was checking out Chasm yesterday, I kept glancing over my shoulder at this wicked-looking title. From my vantage point, I could tell that I was looking at a horror game (very dark, flashlight, single protagonist), but I couldn't make out any details. I'm a fan of good horror games, so I told myself that I'd swing by that booth another time.

I made good on my personal promise today when I finally got a chance to play Through the Woods.

Through the Woods is a horror title by Nordic indie developer Antagonist. You play as young mother Karen Dahl, whose son Fillip has been kidnapped by some being called Old Erik. Erik has taken her son to dark and mysterious island full of nightmares and for some reason, this lady followed alone with just a flashlight. (I applaud her courage, but not her planning.) She's navigating the island by hunting for reflective shards of glass Old Erik has left around the dark forest he calls home. The game is presented as a story that Karen is relating to a reporter or detective.

Through the Woods is intended to explore horror from a different culture. Antagonist is a developer from Norway and they're drawing on their own folklore for the game. "Old Erik" is another name Satan apparently, and he's used by parents to scare kids straight.

"When children would misbehave, parents would use it to scare them to death, or keep curfew," says Through the Woods creative director Ole Helland told Byte at GDC 2015. "'You better be in bed or Old Erik would come and get you.' We took that urban legend and decided to make it this character."

Old Erik won't be the only Nordic legend appearing in the game; the latter part of the PAX Prime demo features a troll hunting Karen in the darkness. Through the Woods has a great deal of tension to it, partially because Karen has no defense whatsoever against the things that go bump in the night. (When she dies, whoever is interviewing her asks if she wants to try telling the story again, which is just a great framing sequence.)

The game also features some excellent sound design with screams and howls winding through the trees; if you hear something strange, you have no clue whether you should turn back or not, because if it's something horrible, Karen is pretty much dead.

Through the Woods looks absolutely amazing with some great art and real-time lighting. I asked a dev what engine the game was built in and he told me they recently switched to Unity 5. Color me surprised that Unity is that powerful. To show off the upgrade, I've also included some before/after Unity 5 shots so you can see the developer's amazing effort.

Through the Woods is planned for early 2016 release on PC, Mac, and Linux. If you're interested, Antagonist also has a early prototype of the game available for download on its official site.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

Related articles

Did You Manage to Pre-Order a Next-Gen Console?

COMMUNITY QUESTION | Between PS5, Xbox Series X and S, and Nvidia's 3080 and 3090 graphics cards, it's been a busy couple weeks for next-gen preorders.

What's Your Favorite Nintendo 3DS Game?

COMMUNITY QUESTION | Now that the 3DS is officially no more, let's reminisce about our favorites on the portable platform.

What Game Are You Playing This Weekend?

COMMUNITY QUESTION | Tell us about what you're currently playing.

What's the Best Sports Game Ever Made?

COMMUNITY QUESTION | It's sports sim season, and we even have a new Tony Hawk game.

You may also like

Mass Effect Trilogy Remaster Reportedly Set for Next Year, Without Multiplayer

The Legendary Edition will reportedly have all the DLC and no MP.

Left 4 Dead 2 Is Free-to-Play This Weekend in Honor of Its Big Community Update

Hoist a pitchfork, grab some pills, and go to town on those zombies.

Spelunky 2 Won't Have Online Support at Launch on PC, But Cross-Play Is on the Way

Yup, down the road you'll be able to go spelunking on PC with your PS4 friends.

Microsoft's ZeniMax Acquisition Pushes Xbox Game Pass Into Overdrive

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Microsoft's plan to change the way we play games received a considerable boost this week, but what happens if it works?