Through the Woods is a third-person psychological horror game set in a forest on the western shore of Norway about a mother and her missing son. Through dynamic narration, you play the mother’s re-telling of the events surrounding her son’s disappearance in a setting heavily influenced by Norse mythology and Norwegian folk tales.
The interrogation that covers the mother's tale is never seen, only heard, as the actions unfolding on the screen have already happened. You control the past, shaping the story of the present.
With Through the Woods, we are attempting to capture the forest as we saw it as children, with all the frightening and mysterious feelings of roaming the woods alone. This is coupled with a poignant story and high quality sound design that acts as a core mechanic in the darkness of the forest.
Through the Woods tells a personal and serious story in a setting inspired by Norwegian folk tales and Norse mythology. A woman is being interrogated by a man and is asked a straightforward yet difficult question: “Where is your son?” The mother begins to tell her story, and the game begins.
Playing as Karen, you must find your way through the woods, and to your son. The only thing you have to help you is a flashlight, which you must decide carefully when to use. The forest is dark, and a little light helps with navigating, but it also makes you more visible to the unknown things that lurk in the woods. Switching off the flashlight may be safer, as it lets the protagonist focus her other senses on avoiding danger, but it makes navigation difficult.
The game's narrative is delivered through the dialogue in the interrogation room, describing the player’s actions in the past tense, slowly unfolding the mystery of why your son has been taken. Instead of focusing on 'jumpscares', the game is meant to instill a lasting sense of dread in the player. This brooding menace is delivered in a slow drip as part of a narrative, interactive experience, with fear and melancholia as the two opposing points of the emotional spectrum.
The main gameplay of Through the Woods revolves around exploration, avoiding the dangers of the forest, uncovering the mystery around what happened to your son through collecting story elements and driving the narrative forward by unlocking dialogue along the way.
The audio also acts as a core gameplay mechanic, giving you a warning as to what creature may be lurking nearby. By learning from each encounter you can figure out the best way to deal with whatever you meet and whether you run away, hide, or blind your foe with your flashlight.
So, why third-person? We have received a lot of questions about why we don't we go for first-person instead. Some people say that first-person is the standard for horror, that it would make you feel more immersed, like you're actually there. The thing is, this story isn't about you. We are telling Karen's story from her perspective, and we feel that the best way to do that is to let you observe her actions as you move through the game world.
The sound design of Through the Woods plays a very special role in the game and, unlike most other games, actually acts as a core mechanic.
On your journey through the forest and across the island, you will come across various enemies and creatures. Some will want to harm you and some will just be protecting their territory, forcing you to take another path.
Each creature has its own theme and, based on what you know about their behavior from previous encounters, the sound design will help you survive in the darkness of the woods. You will usually hear the creatures before you see them, which gives you a little time to prepare your approach, and turning off your flashlight will help you focus your hearing on whatever lies ahead; our night-blindness / sound-focus mechanic.
Some creatures will chase you if you run, so if you recognise the sound of this creature you can quickly hide and sneak to pass by. Others will charge at you and kill you in the darkness but fear the beam of your flashlight.
Since the game takes place in Norway, we have chosen to use Norwegian actors for the dialogue. We believe this choice is the right way to go over actors with American or British accents that you hear in a lot of games, and that it will help with strengthening the immersion.
We have taken inspiration from several sources for the art style and environments of the game, mostly from the Norwegian artists, Theodor Kittelsen and Lars Hertervig. Their work is melancholy and unusual, and perfectly represents the uncomfortable atmosphere we want to create in the game.
We've also taken a lot of inspiration from Norse mythology and old Norwegian folk tales. You will be able to find and collect lore throughout the forest that enrichens the environment and story, and also discover runes carved into rocks and trees that you can translate with a little ingenuity.
We miss the third person horror games that seems to have gotten lost in the past few generations of video game consoles. More specifically, we miss the tension and the pacing from the early titles in game series like Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Fatal Frame.
However, that’s not to say that we hate newer horror games, as we also draw inspiration from modern titles like Alan Wake, Gone Home, Amnesia: The Dark Descent and The Last of Us.
We have a bunch of great rewards to offer you in exchange for helping us reach our goal with your hard earned cash.
First of all, everyone gets access to our free playable prototype, whether you pledge or not. Hooray! This is so you can check out an early level of the game and make sure it's something you want to invest in.
After this, everyone who pledges also gets two exclusive, high resolution wallpapers and their name in the credits for everyone to see.
Going up the list, we have digital and physical copies of the game, digital and physical art books, digital and physical original soundtracks and having your name immortalized by finding it somewhere in the game itself.
We've also added some really cool T-shirts! Our WOODS WEAR tier allows you to choose between two awesome designs. If you want one of the other tiers but still get a t-shirt you can Addon $40 to your pledge (Please add $15 for shipping if your tier doesn't already include shipping). Available in sizes: S, M, L and XL.
Even further up we have some very unique rewards such as adopting a beautiful Norwegian tree, you can request a piece of customized artwork from one of our artists, and they will spend up towards a full day of work to finish it. And then we have a few very limited Executive Cabineer credits where we fly you to Norway and take you with us for a cabin-trip with the team. Come join us for the true Norwegian experience Through the Woods!
Antagonist is a small independent studio based in Oslo, Norway, and was founded in 2014. Our team's overarching aim is to focus on delivering story as an integral part of the experience, without sacrificing gameplay.
The studio is made up primarily of friends who studied game development at the same university college, but the team has grown as we've become more experienced from working on smaller projects. Development on Through the Woods began as part of the teams' final Bachelor thesis project.
In addition to the core-team we are working with several really talented freelancers, among those the exceptional Jory Prum, whose resume boasts dialogue production on Telltale Games' Walking Dead-series and much more. We've also engaged Funcom, developers of Age of Conan and The Secret World, for help with motion capture to bring our future animations to the next level.
The Norwegian game development community is, in general, very open, and any challenges we've faced so far have been made easier to tackle with the help and support we've received from our colleagues. Notably among those is Krillbite Studio. Their experience with bringing the horror-game, Among the Sleep, to fruition has been an immense resource for us as we've been experimenting with our direction for Through the Woods.
Well, we have managed to get halfway through development through an investment in the company, some development grants, and also a lot of devoted effort from ourselves. We worked on Through the Woods for around eight months with essentially no pay at all, so hopefully this tells you something about how dedicated to the game we are. Some of us are even living with our parents to try and save money...
But now we are close to running out of money, and we just can't do this alone anymore. We need your help! We are using our slow and slightly broken personal laptops at work which really slows down the rate at which we can produce content. And since we have spent all our savings so far we will have to get extra jobs for income if the Kickstarter doesn't succeed, something which will obviously further slow down the development of Through the Woods.
Making a game is expensive and running a business is hard, but we have seven very professional and talented developers here who only want to produce an incredible game for you to add to your collection, and to keep doing what we love to do.
Risks and challenges
Through the Woods is Antagonist's first big commercial project, so we are bound to face problems that we haven't faced before. But that is a process we're going through almost every day, and so far we've tackled it extremely well. The help we get from other, more seasoned developers in our community helps mitigate any large issues that might arise due to this being our first big adventure.
The process of making a game will always present risks and challenges and Through the Woods is no exception. The immersion and the aspect of telling a great story is important to us, and we would rather make sure we deliver a quality experience than to push something out the door before it's ready.
That said, we've quite successfully followed a production-schedule so far. We did have a small delay when a planned expansion of the team had to wait some months while securing financing, but as long as the Kickstarter campaign is successful we don't foresee any further major problems.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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