8. Darkwood (2017) [official site]
Developer: Acid Wizard
Publisher: Acid Wizard
Boasting some of the best lighting in a top-down 2d game you’re ever likely to see, Darkwood makes the shadowy corners of a room, or the spaces between trees, absolutely terrifying. Things skitter into view, go bump in the night and then latch onto your face or leg, and chew right down to the bone.
Don’t be fooled by the screenshots and videos into thinking this is a crafting/survival game with horror elements. It’s a narrative game and a surreal nightmare that borrows from RPGs, roguelikes and survival games but feels distinct from any particular genre. Really, deep down, it’s a pure horror game, with all of its design focused on unnerving and startling its players. It’s also in the rare group that might make you recoil from the screen but also has enough quiet dread to creep back into your mind late at night when you’re far from the screen in a far more insidious fashion.
Notes: According to developers Acid Wizard, Darkwood is inspired by: “The works of David Lynch, Strugacki brothers, Stanisław Lem. Games like Fallout, Dark Souls, Project Zomboid, Teleglitch. Slavic folklore. And, well, life.”
Where can I buy it: Steam.
What else should I be playing if I like this: There’s nothing else quite like it, but the developers’ list of influences are a good place to start. Project Zomboid has the least in common with Darkwood, tonally, but it’s a great way to explore the survival mechanics in more detail.
Read more: Thoughts based on an early release.