It’s what you can’t see that scares you in Through The Woods, the first game from Norwegian game developers Antagonist.
Try turning off the light at night or closing your eyes and you’ll notice that your other senses become stronger. You hear things more clearly, for instance. Plus, things get scarier in the dark, when you can’t see what you’re fighting. In Through The Woods, a future release by Norwegian game developers Antagonist, the sound plays an important and quite active role, and therefore it had to be very realistic, Dan Wakefield, Sound Designer on Through The Woods explains:
“I’ve been trying to make everything sound as it is. So I’ve spent a lot of time in the forests and in my garden trying to get the sound of footsteps on different surfaces or the sound of walking through bushes just right,” he says.
The traditional way to record sounds for games is to record them in a studio, but with Through The Woods, Antagonist tries the opposite: to record everything as it sounds. And that has been an unusual experience, not least for the guy recording:
“At one point, we needed the sound of someone falling over. I didn’t have time to fix something, so I just had to throw myself on the floor again and again. It’s like method acting,” he says, laughing.
Through The Woods is a story-driven horror game, set in the Norwegian forests. It tells the story of Karen, whose son has mysteriously disappeared, through audio recordings of an interrogation with Karen. These recording provide the backdrop for the game, as the player relives Karen’s memories of the disappearance. The game focuses not so much on jump-scares that shock you, but more on the constant uneasy feeling that something is there.
“Very often, what you’re imagining in your mind is much more scary than what you can put in front of someone. I think a lot of horror games and movies make the mistake of showing the bad guy right away, because they think that’s what people want to see. But all you gotta do is watch Alien to realize that you don’t need to see anything scary for it to be scary,” Dan Wakefield says.
Antagonist CEO Anders Hillestad describes Through The Woods as a mixture between Alan Wake and Gone Home with a little Amnesia thrown into the mix.
“We want to create the game you don’t want to play. You know, the experience where you say ‘Okay, I really want to see what happens next, but I can’t play this – you take the controller’,” he says about the game.
Through the Woods is scheduled to be released in the first quarter of 2016, so the game still has some way to go. It was recently Greenlit on Steam, something which Anders Hillestad hopes will help the release.
“Steam accounts for 95% of the digital sales on PC, so it is very important for us to be releasing there. Luckily as we’re Greenlit we can selfpublish on Steam, or we could get a distributor, but we’re not actively looking in that direction right now” he says.
On the 14th of May, the day before this article, Antagonist also started a campaign for Through The Woods on Kickstarter with benefits for backers ranging from getting your name in the credits to a trip to a cabin in the Norwegian Woods.