Darkwood is a top-down survival horror RPG set in a procedurally generated open world. The perspective is truly top-down, not isometric, providing a unique feel and somehow still perfectly portraying the creepy atmosphere and extreme tension needed in a true horror game. Developed by Acid Wizard Studio, a team of just three people from Poland, six key features are touted: hardcore gameplay, permadeath, satisfying exploration, perks and abilities, crafting, and a twisted atmosphere. This is how they describe each of those features:
No hand holding, tooltips or linear paths. Think, learn and adapt - if you will behave recklessly or do not prepare for the night, you will not survive.
Darkwood is a dangerous place and death lurks around every corner. If you die, your savegames get deleted and you have to start over. But not all of your progress is lost, as some things carry on to your next incarnation..
A breathing, procedurally generated world for you to explore. Each visit to Darkwood is unique, as all locations and events are randomized.
PERKS AND ABILITIES
Improve your character with skills that will give you advantage over your enemies.
A flexible crafting system which lets you experiment with loot to: create items, build barricades or traps, and improve your gear with addons.
You will start to question your sanity, as the line between reality and nightmarish fantasies will begin to blur.
So is Darkwood just a top-down Project Zomboid, a game that has already been greenlit? While Acid Wizard admits to being inspired by Project Zomboid, even describing Darkwood as "a mix of Project Zomboid, Don't Starve and Teleglitch," they're also quick to point out that this is not a game about zombies. While there will be zombie-like enemies, there will also be several different types of enemies you'll come across. Sadly, in the pre-alpha gameplay video below, no enemies are shown apart from a child's drawing – so we'll just have to take their word for it for now. That being said, not knowing what evil lurks is often scarier than knowing, so maybe it's for the better that they didn't show any enemies. Nevertheless, Acid Wizard did post some concept art of an NPC and three enemies on their official site if you wanted to take a peek.
While Darkwood is still very early in development, I think it's safe to say that if you're a survival horror fan, it's worth keeping your eye on. While AAA developers have leaned more toward action, it seems indie developers aren't afraid to provide us with true survival horror experiences, and Darkwood is shaping up to be just that. I think the unconventional top-down perspective is perfectly suited for the survival horror genre, as it lends itself well to the lighting and shadow effects necessary to keep the creepiness and tension at its greatest. As of now, Darkwood is being developed as a single-player experience for the PC, but Mac and Linux versions, as well as co-op play, are possibilities in the future if Acid Wizard earns enough funds through an eventual crowd-funding campaign.