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Video Game / Darkwood

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The Woods are alive...
I see hatred and fear in their eyes.
As if I was responsible for the spreading disease.
As if I were responsible for the misery plaguing this land.
I have nowhere to hide from them, nowhere to run.
The woods have closed us off from the outside world.
We are all doomed.
The Doctor, Darkwood Intro

Darkwood is a top-down 2D survival horror game developed by Acid Wizard Studio. A page for the game surfaced on Steam Greenlight on March 11, 2013, with a following a campaign on Indiegogo which was successfully funded. The game released through Steam Early Access on July 24, 2014, and was fully released on August 18, 2017. The developers said that the game was inspired by "the works of David Lynch, the Strugatsky Brothers, Stanisław Lem. Games like Fallout, Dark Souls, Project Zomboid, Teleglitch. Slavic folklore. And, well, life."

The game is set during 1987 in an overgrown Polish forest being ravaged by a devastating plague, one that is mutating both humans and creatures into violent abominations. You control the Protagonist, also known as the Stranger — a mysterious man who is discovered unconscious by a wandering doctor deep in the forest. Reasoning that the Protagonist had to have come from the outside, and the key he holds is somehow related to the area — possibly even providing a way to leave the forest — the doctor saves the Protagonist... only to interrogate him, deciding later to steal his key, then run away when it becomes clear the mysterious stranger wouldn't talk.


After escaping, the Protagonist now has to face the horrors of the forest while trying to make sense of why he can't remember what occurred the last couple of days, all after being the victim of an "incident" days prior to entering the forest. He also learns that he no longer needs to sleep, drink water, or even eat, yet he has an unusual craving for red pulsating mushrooms found in the area. Despite everything, he has two goals: confront the doctor once more and retrieve the key, then accomplish the mysterious goal he set out to finish in the first place...

Gameplay takes a unique approach to survival horror; the top-down perspective shows limited details of the environment, only revealing NPCs/enemies/traps that the Protagonist himself can see in a limited quarter viewing of the world. The developers also wanted to do away with jump scares, instead utilizing dark ambient music as well as key sound effects that clue in players of the horrors that lurk outside their vision to create tension. Being part of the "Souls-like" genre, there is a rich story buried behind difficult gameplay as you are forced to watch your stamina as well as health in hostile territory, and every choice you make has consequences of varying nature.


In addition, gameplay is divided into two segments: Day and Night. Players explore Darkwood during the day by looting (mostly) abandoned areas, meeting several characters, taking on quests, and barricading their hideout as well as preparing traps for intruders. Nighttime is fear of the dark and the unknown incarnate, unleashing untold horrors in the pitch black to assail the Protagonist and his hideout. Random night events occur that affect both you as well as whatever's coming for you, and sometimes it'll be nothing at all besides the creaking sounds of the building. But unless you’re lucky enough to go unnoticed, surviving the night comes down to intuition and any preparations you made to defend yourself, yet even that won’t be enough to prevent the monsters from overrunning you if given enough time. Pray the morning sun rises soon...

You are playing a challenging and unforgiving game.
You will not be led by the hand.
Respect the woods. Be patient. Focus.

Darkwood contains examples of:

  • 2xFore: The first weapon that can be crafted is the Board with Nails.
  • Ability Depletion Penalty: The tier three negative passives penalize you for poorly managing your stamina:
    • “Weak Lungs” doubles the times it takes to fully recover your stamina if you completely exhaust your stamina bar.
    • “Weakness” reduces all melee damage dealt by the Protagonist to fifty percent if their remaining stamina is less than thirty percent.
  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: Barricading a hideout to survive the night is more complicated than closing a door and putting a wardrobe behind it – even dogs can burst through the doors and push furniture out of the way with considerable ease. The only real obstacles to invading enemies is a proper barricade of planks nailed to the wall as well as whatever traps you’ve set up, but even that might not be enough if too many enemies learn of your existence in the hideout.
  • Acid Reflux Nightmare: Some food the Protagonist finds can be cooked at a hideout’s oven, which is distilled into a serum he injects into himself. One of the side effects are playable dream sequences at random; they help reveal more of the forest’s past as well as the Protagonist’s background, albeit they devolve quickly into nightmares. What’s worse is that some of these “nightmares” end up actually being acid trips that made the Protagonist go crazy, such as the Church Ruins event where he hallucinates that a man living in the ruins is instead a violent Black Chomper.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Averted. However, because all traders can only sell you a meager amount of items every day, the problem you’ll run into is having a surplus of Reputation with a trader who can’t barter many items because of their scarcitynote .
  • The Alcoholic: The Bike Man, who can be summoned to your hideout if you ring a bike bell that is found on the Silent Woods Hideout’s workbench. He’s friendly, and if you give him a bottle of alcohol he’ll offer to transfer all the items stored in containers at a hideout to the one you’re currently occupyingnote , so long as you’ve at least once activated the oven of the hideout you ask him to visit and the one you’re currently in. The lone exception is the Swamp, which he cannot or simply won’t visit.
  • Ambiguous Situation: This is played straight and invoked.
    • On the one hand, the Protagonist already knew that strange things were going on in the forest even before he arrived. His journal mentions “our camp,” indicating he traveled with people before they were attacked. He also reveals over time that he’s not one of the inhabitants of the forest, that whoever he traveled with had set up several hideouts throughout the forest to survive the night, which means the game revolves around the player helping the Protagonist accomplish an unknown goal. Ultimately he knows more about the forest and the situation than players will starting off.
    • On the flip side, the Protagonist doesn’t remember anything that happened after the attack on his camp days prior to the prologue of Darkwood, thus he forgot how he escaped as well as gotten the clothes he wears when he met the Doctor. It’s during this time that the Protagonist’s body mutates to the point he doesn’t feel hunger or thirst anymore, cannot recognize himself, and thinks the strange red pulsating mushrooms in the forest look extra tasty, making him curious what happened.
    • In conclusion, Dramatic Irony tends to be inverted since players learn more through the Protagonist, who has a rough grasp on the situation. Also, in true "Souls-like" genre fashion the story has a rich background, but a lot of the information is vague, told through playing the game itself rather than cinematic cutscenes, and easily interpreted in different ways. For instance, the Protagonist claims in his journal that "he recognized the Doctor's face," but it's up in the air if they met before the prologue, the Protagonist recognized the face prior as something relating to his goal (e.g. memorized a photo of the Doctor as a person of interest), or something altogether different. The game never tells us, rather it expects us to craft our own theories for the storyline.
  • An Axe to Grind: An axe can be lootedwhen?  and/or crafted. It deals the highest amount of damage amongst melee weapons, but has one of the shortest ranges as a drawback.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • When morning comes, a special buff is applied to you called "Time Freeze" that stops time as long as you stay within close proximity of the hideout. It allows you to trade with the NPCs, make preparations and plans for looting during the day, craft supplies, and re-barricade your hideout along with preparing traps, all without fear of losing precious daytime progress. Time freeze also applies when talking to someone, looking at your map/journal, and becomes active in large, plot-relevant sub-areas like the Village and the Doctor's House when you visit the area once more.
    • There are obtainable maps that mark the next area’s hideout on your mapwhere? , saving you the time and trouble of finding them yourself.
    • Traders who appear in the morning at your hideout offer precious supplies like ammo for all guns (except the Assault Rifle), gasoline canisters, and various crafting materials. Successfully surviving a night grants you 100-250 reputation points depending on the hideout’s location, making it easier for you to survive in the more difficult areas.
    • Despite the randomized placement of locations, some NPCs in Darkwood like the Wolfman will give proper directions to important spots like his camp in the Silent Forest.
    • If you die, anything in your hotbar remains there and will not be lost, unlike part of your inventory which is left where you died. This is helpful for keeping useful tools like guns with you at all times, and the map will give you a rough idea where you lost your items, which will appear as a bloody backpack when you find them. This is assuming you don’t lose all your lives on Hard Mode and is averted on Nightmare Mode where death is permanent.
      • Speaking of lives, on Hard Mode you can get more lives if you consume any “Embryos” that you find randomly on the map. Also, in a rare case of Video Game Caring Potential not screwing you over, choosing to spare the Doctor allows you to obtain up to three Embryos from him if you find him in the Swamp at different points.
    • Upgrades to the workbench apply to all hideouts; you don't need to upgrade them individually. Also, if you failed to upgrade your workbench to level four by the time you begin Chapter Two, the workbench will be upgraded to said level for free in order to help you deal with the more ferocious monsters patrolling the area.
  • Apathetic Citizens: The Villagers do not care about you and anyone outside the Village.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The Pitchfork. It has the longest range of any melee weapon, deals decent amounts of damage, and can be acquired by killing a hostile Villager as early as the Silent Woods, making it beginner friendly. However, it eats up more than half your stamina to swing a fully charged primary attack once, and said attack has the unique disadvantage of getting caught for a few seconds in walls/objects you swing it at, which can seal your fate if a hostile monster is nearby. Not only do you have to rest far more often during fights, most other melee weapons would’ve already beaten a monster near death using the same amount of stamina as a pitchfork stab.
    • The Mushroom Healing Skill, which allows you to heal by eating harvestable mushrooms. The problem is these mushrooms can be cooked at an oven into a serum that levels you up, which means eating them instead will delay you from gaining useful skills/passives to survive. It can be useful once you’ve reached max level and have no need to cook them anymore, but by then you’ll be close to finishing the game and/or have potentially unlocked the “Appetite” skillnote . Furthermore, if you let the mushroom(s) rot, they can be used to craft gas bottles instead.
    • Zig-Zagged with the Double Barrel Shotgun, which can fire twice before needing to reload but has a longer reload speed than the Single Barrel Shotgun. Furthermore, upgrading the workbench one more level past the one required to build this shotgun nets you the ability to craft the Pump Action Shotgun, which is superior to every shotgun in the game yet requires a great deal of expensive and rare parts to build, making it hard to build both the double barrel and pump action variants in the same play-through. Depending on how quickly you beat the game, you may have no reason to build the double barrel variant and instead wait until you max your workbench level in order to build a better shotgun.
    • Zig-Zagged with the Hunting Rifle. It deals damage equivalent to a shotgun and has the longest accurate range of all firearms, but it tunnel visions your sight. This isn’t too big an issue outdoors during the day since the enhanced scope range can help spot enemies from further distances, plus enemies gives noise cues that warn you if they’re about to attack, but the restricted width of sight makes this firearm almost useless in close quarters combat and the enhanced range won’t help at nighttime since you cannot see in the dark. As a result it’s situationally useful, but at least you can buy ammunition for cheap from the morning traders, not to mention you can get one preassembled if you complete the Wolfman’s quest and not push him back when he jumps on you to lick your face.
  • Awesome, but Temporary: The flamethrower, hands down the strongest weapon in the game. You only get to use it when you’ve chosen to reject “The Being” and its offer to bring you into its fold, choosing instead to confiscate a stolen flamethrower from one of the sleepers named Maciek and set everything on fire, including the Being. Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of the Protagonist’s life, who dies from asphyxiation shortly after.
  • Ax-Crazy: Many people get this way over time — sometimes depending on the Protagonist’s choices — and some creatures who are either passive or territorial during the day become far more aggressive when night falls. The Doctor starts going this way if you let him reach the Swamp, slowly devolving into a Savage.
    • Over time, the Protagonist starts becoming this if you continue to level up by injecting essence made from plague-infected food into his body. One of the biggest examples is the Church nightmare, which isn’t a nightmare and instead an acid trip, leading to the Protagonist entering the Church Ruins in the Old Woods and fighting a “Black Chomper” that is actually a man living there. He assaults you because you’re trying to steal an important memento from him, a box containing the last drawings from his beloved late daughters, but at that point the Protagonist is hallucinating and thinks he’s in terrible danger.
  • Bear Trap: Several can be found around the woodswhere?  and they’re an important source for collecting scrap metal by disarming them. You can also build them early on, serving as a useful trap to protect yourself at nighttime in your hideout.
    • A non-lethal variation is the chain trap, which prevents whoever steps inside it from wandering away from the center of the trap. It’s a helpful alternative if you plan to patrol around your hideout at night and kill the monsters, especially since it’s more cost efficient to build than bear trapsnote .
  • Beast Man: The Wolfman, who roams the forest while offering advice and selling items.
  • Berserk Board Barricade: One strategy to stay alive at night is keeping boards and nails handy on you, so when a monster breaks down one of your barricades and you manage to kill it, you can re-barricade the door/window immediately. This helps prevent other monsters in the area from overwhelming you by climbing through the exposed hole in your defenses. Unfortunately, you will make so much noise doing so that any nearby enemies will figure out you're in the house as well as where you are specifically, which means it's only a matter of time before the monsters reach you unless the morning sun rises.
  • The Big Bad Wolf: The relationships that the Wolfman has with many characters is reminiscent of a number of fairy tales, most prominently Little Red Riding Hood. He hates the Chicken Lady, an old woman like the grandmother, and his ultimate goal if you give him the "Key Covered in Chicken Feces" is to eat the Pretty Lady.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • In the “Bliss Ending,” the Stranger inexplicably walks out of Darkwood into a normal 1980’s Eastern European apartment block, where he goes to his apartment, is capable of having normal conversations with his neighbors, and finally is able to sleep in his own bed. For the rest of the inhabitants of the Darkwood, life goes on as normal, with some meeting tragic ends while others continue to live their lives — depending on the protagonist's actions towards them.
    • In the “Burn Them All Ending,” aka “The True Ending,” the Stranger realizes that his home is an illusion created by “The Being,” who has trapped many people that are “sleeping” and under the entity’s influence. One way this ending can play out is if the Stranger chooses to reject The Being’s attempt to return him to sleep by struggling to remove his hand from it. Further investigation of the area leads to the Protagonist finding a man named Maciek, one of the former Outsiders note .
      Upon confiscating the flamethrower that Maciek stole before he defected and ran off into the woods, The Stranger burns everything and everyone around him, starting a massive inferno that seemingly kills The Being (or at least makes it flee), albeit it also causes the Stranger to die from asphyxiation and burns the entity's “sleepers, which quickly spreads to the rest of the Darkwood and burns most of the NPCs you met throughout the game to death. Though depending on your actions, it's possible for some to survivenote . It's also hinted that the entity's disappearance has ended the madness tied to the forest and the fire has also opened up Darkwood, allowing people trapped inside to make contact with the outside world, but it’s possible The Being is still alive and there may be other eldritch entities who are aware of humanity as well, making it possible the whole situation may repeat itself in the future.
      • Alternatively, if the Stranger doesn't remove his hand from “The Being” when the option pops up, he will sleep like in the Bliss Ending, albeit it's apparent this will result in The Being controlling the Stranger or having him eventually die like all the other "Sleepers" in the area.
  • Body Horror: Most of the characters you meet are either mutated humans, abominations, or walking corpses. This includes the Protagonist, who hides his face with a scarf.
  • Booby Trap: Many places are armed with one, requiring the Protagonist to handle the obstacle with care or face the deadly consequences. A particularly vicious one can be sprung on him in the Old Woods at the Train Wreck, which happens if he gives the Musician the “Key Covered in Chicken Feces” and the violin from his parent’s house, resulting in the boy telling the Doctor about you and setting up a meeting between the two of you. When the Protagonist arrives, the train is suddenly filled with toxic gas that knocks him out, which the Doctor takes advantage of to continue his interrogation of the former where they left off at the prologue.
  • Border Patrol: The Floor Gore will mangle the Protagonist if he strays away from his hideout at night.
  • Boring, but Practical
    • “Stealthing Nights,” making as little noise as possible by standing still in a secure location of your hideout during the night, or at least until the morning sun is getting close to rising. Killing monsters does yield valuable loot, plus some night events reward you for stepping out of your comfort zone, but you risk getting hurt and burning through even more resources than the effort is worth — especially if the commotion you start riles up the monsters outside, who’ll begin to break down every barricade they find knowing you’re somewhere in the building. Surviving the night also gives you a reasonable amount of reputation to buy items from the morning trader, and if you did loot a consider haul of valuable items for trading during the day there may be little reason to start a commotion at night to begin with.
    • The Pistol. It lacks the raw damage output of a shotgun, nor can it compete with the Assault Rifle in terms of accurate long distance shooting, but it’s a serviceable firearm whose ammunition is easier to find than others. You’re also guaranteed being able to buy at least one magazine every morning from the trader should you survive the night.
    • The Watch. It tells you what time it is in-game and that’s it, but knowing how much time you have left before nightfall helps you plan out your looting expeditions.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: In the Dry Meadow and the Silent Woods you can have early encounters with Red Chompersnote ; they can be avoided but are situated in areas that contain high tier loot.
  • Breakable Weapons: Melee weapons have a limited number of whacks in them before they break and can't be used; they can be repaired at a workbench and upgraded for greater durability. Firearms are indestructible, but have limited ammo as a tradeoff.
  • Brown Note Being: Banshees. If they’re looking at you, your interface will flash violently and be partially blocked by a visage of its distorted face. Upon the Protagonist looking at the monstrosity when it’s looking at him as well — or the Banshee touches him — the screen will erupt and shake while the Banshee screams. All the lights will be knocked out and the Banshee will burn up... which releases its baby chicks, all of whom you’ll have to fight off while they gang up on you in the dark.
  • Caltrops: You can improvise these with broken glass by throwing an empty glass bottle at the ground. The Protagonist is immune to them, since unlike all hostile creatures in the woods he uses footwear.
  • Canine Companion: In many respects, the Wolfman is watching over the Protagonist and accompanies him to areas he cannot reach alone, albeit the Wolfman pushes the Protagonist to commit acts of violence that screws over people (although many of them treat you like garbage and/or are insane). The relationship is unclear, but the Wolfman is benign towards the Protagonist when compared to most of the other inhabitants in the dark corrupted forest, even calling you "Meat" and "comrade" at times. But if you don't fulfill the Wolfman’s request to obtain the key that allows him to enter the locked room in the Chicken Lady’s house for him, he will steal many items from your hideout in the Swamp to spite you, forcing you into a dangerous showdown at the Sawmill if you want them back.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Some Savages wield giant branches as their choice of weapon, which you can loot and use as a weapon as well. It’s also a critical component to build an axe or shovel.
  • Choose a Handicap: Leveling up for the first time, plus every couple of levels afterwards, will require you to pick a negative perk that weakens the Protagonist and exposes him to increased dangers. Some negative perks can be ignored though depending on your play stylenote .
  • Claustrophobia: One particular nightmare features this as its flavor of horror. If you enter the cellar near the Talking Tree of the Swamp, then dive into the water using a filled oxygen tank in order to set the roots of the Talking Tree on fire, the Protagonist hallucinates that he’s in an underground bunker. After receiving a torch, he eventually enters an eerie narrow tunnel that has dormant humans (or human-like beings) lying on the ground with the amount of them rising as you continue further. Once you reach the end of the narrow tunnel, you can try to move back, but it’s cut off for unknown reasons with the darkness slowly closing in while you watch helplessly.
  • Commie Land: The game takes place somewhere in rural Poland during 1987.
  • Continuing is Painful: Used to be more brutal during early access.
    • In earlier builds, dying once undid all of your hard work leveling up skills, forcing you to start over from scratch. The task of foraging was much more difficult as said items didn't respawn, meaning you to had to forge ahead without your useful abilities.
    • As of v1.0, if you die on Normal or Hard, you'll respawn in the Hideout with half your inventory left where you croakednote . Furthermore, if you die during the night you’ll awake up at 8:00 AM the next day, though you’ll get no Reputation bonus from the morning trader(s). On the Hard difficulty, you'll also lose one of your limited lives, which can only be regained by consuming an Embryo.
  • The Corruption: The forest is contaminated by a mysterious plague that mutates wildlife into bigger and/or dangerous animals, plus it has caused the forest to grow towering trees faster than a body can decompose that has blocked off access from the outside world unless you knew about the underground tunnels that the Outsiders use to wander in, out, and around the forest with ease. It also turns many humans into mutant-like beings who grow increasingly violent as time goes on, and while the Protagonist still has his marbles he’s no longer a normal human being.
  • Creepy Blue Eyes: The Protagonist has them. Whether they are natural or a result of the plague is unknown.
  • Creepy Cathedral: You can find one within the Old Woodsnote . One of the dream sequences you can experience will place you at the Church Ruins. The Protagonist hallucinates seeing people lining up to walk down a flight of stairs within the building, then is assaulted by a “Black Chomper” who screams about his two daughters and a red see-saw if you loot a locked metal box from one of the rooms. Killing the Black Chomper, acquiring its locket and using the code on it to open the basement doors, then walking down the stairs will end the dream.
    However, if you fail to kill the Black Chomper or run away, you’ll later discover a man at the Church when revisited who is pissed at you and calls you a coward, who is heavily implied to be the “Black Chomper” who attacked you while screaming about his two girls. It’s also revealed if the box is opened that it contained drawings from children, which was the last mementos he had of his daughters due to having the same red see-saw he mentions while assaulting you, meaning if you succeeded in killing the Black Chomper you actually stole from and murdered an innocent man while you were high on an acid trip and weren’t dreaming at all
  • Creepy Crows: Normal ones will sometimes show up near corpses, flying away if you get close.
  • Cue the Sun: During the night phase you'll hear a unique ambient noise that grows in intensity after 6:00, which is a sign that the morning sun is starting to rise. Once the red light of morning illuminates the hideout you'll have survived the dangers of the night.
  • Dangerous Windows: If you do not barricade a window at night within your hideout, enemies will jump through them to hunt you down; even one exposed window can let a whole mob through if they know you’re in that particular room/area. This is assuming you have enough boards and nails to barricade most if not all the windows to begin with.
  • Dark Fantasy: Deconstructed. The game shows what could happen if traditional dark fantasy elements — like a supernatural plague and eldritch-like creatures of varying nature — were inserted into a more realistic 1980’s Polish rural environment in a forest; the results aren’t pretty and get worse when the whole scenario leads to a Cosmic Horror Reveal. Everything that happened resulted from the actions of an Eldritch Abomination known as “The Being,” who is trying to bring humans under its control for unknown reasons.
  • Darkness Equals Death: If you have the "Shadows" negative perk, or have reached the Swamp Hideout, the darkness itself becomes a serious danger at nighttimenote . Enemies also become far more prevalent and aggressive when there's no sun, plus the Floor Gore will murder you for failing to reach your hideout before 20:00 o’ clock.
  • The Dead Can Dance: Upon entering the Wedding building after entering the gate codenote , you’ll come across cheerful dancing women who ask if you’d like to join them. Further exploration of the area makes it apparent these women aren’t normal, and upon meeting the “Bride of the Wedding,” the women disappear for good. You can attack them, but their corpses will disappear as well, making it apparent they were some kind of supernatural beings.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The prologue has you starting the game as the Doctor, who happens upon a wounded stranger in a trench coat and farmer hat that is carrying a journal. The Doctor nurses the stranger back to health... only to tie him to a chair and interrogate him, demanding to know where the way out of the forest is, believing the stranger knows. After the Doctor leaves, we take control of the Protagonist from that point on, trying to escape the Doctor’s house and eventually ending up in the woods, having discovered the Doctor has stolen an important key belonging to the Protagonist as well as several pages from his journal.
  • Developers' Foresight: If you approach the Sawmill when the Wolfman is there at dusk or night, he will tell you to go back to your own home and come back the next day, likely because he wants nothing to do with the Floor Gore.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • Leveling Up. Although you do get stronger, you have to obtain a few mandatory negative passives over time, which makes you weaker in some regards. Some negative perks can be trivialized depending on your play style though (e.g. taking “Shaky Hands” on a No Guns Run), plus overall the positive passives and abilities unlocked are worth the tradeoff.
    • Actively patrolling your hideout at night, rather than hiding in a room and staying still to not make noise, allows you to kill monsters before they have a chance to rip apart your barricades or escape any traps they were caught in. You will make a lot of noise doing so, which will draw attention, but it also allows you to minimize the damage done to your hideout so long as as you don’t get caught by large mobs of enemies.
  • Disc-One Nuke: It’s possible to obtain a reloadable pistol as early as day one if you know where to look. The Wolfman will trade one with you in exchange for an electronic game you can loot from the Church Ruinshint  in the Old Woods, and all the parts necessary to build a pistol as well as toolboxes to craft it at your workbench can be found in the Silent Forest, namely Piotrek’s House; the Village; and a randomized camp that contains the handgun frame. Beware that the locations will be randomized every play-through, but you can cover enough ground in one day to find everything and make it back to the Dry Meadow Hideout before nighttime falls as well.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: This is one of the central horror themes of the game. Regular creatures like wild dogs and elk are territorial and will attack you if you don’t keep your distance, most of the inhabitants are indifferent towards you at best and hostile at worst, and the supernatural elements are pure nightmare fuel. This only gets worse once the sun starts to fade away and nighttime comes...
  • Eldritch Abomination: They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes in Darkwood.
    • Animalistic Abomination: The Red Chompers, giant canine-shaped monsters who have a jaw that splits across their midsection of their bodies. Highly aggressive, they are dangerous enemies who are later revealed to be former humans who suffered advanced stages of the plague. There is also the Snail in the Swamp, who is as big as a house and capable of speaking to you, and the Banshees who are revealed to have a human head buried within their beaks whenever they scream at you. Finally, there is the Wolfman, a werewolf-like being who is intelligent and watches over the Protagonist... in his own way.
    • Botanical Abomination: The Talking Tree, found in the Swamp and stationed on what the Protagonist believes is the “road to home” he’s been looking for. It has a large collection of people-like visages that can talk to you — albeit unintelligible at first until you visit the Radio Station. The Cripple hates the tree because its many voices from its human-like visages (if they’re not actual people) drives him crazy listening to them. One of the biggest choices you make in the game is whether you burn it down like the Cripple asks of you or find another way to get past it. If you burn it down by setting its roots on fire with a gasoline tank, you will have to face “The Inferno,” the tree’s attempt to get revenge by sending its burning human-like visages to attack you in the Swamp Hideout later that evening in an unavoidable night event.
    • The Mushroom Granny in the Swamp is a human-like being that is sapient and made of mushrooms. She is harmless, yet the Protagonist thinks she looks delicious and has to fight the temptation to eat her if they want to keep her alive.
    • In the epilogue, there is “The Being,” an entity appearing as a being of light that is the source of the Plague. The trees in the forest are revealed to be growing from its roots, and there are countless “Sleepers” — people under the control of the Being — whom are found all over the roots. Until the Protagonist woke up, he himself was one of them, and The Being seems to be gathering humans under its control for an unknown reason.
  • Fade to Black/Fade to White
    • If you are killed, the screen fades to black. If you're on Normal or still have lives on Hard, you'll wake up near the hideout's oven at 08:00 of the next day.
    • When the clock reaches 08:00, the night ends and the screen fades to white with a big message saying what day you’re on now in the center of the screen.
  • Fantastic Drug: You level-up by injecting yourself with syringes of mushroom/meat cocktails; the more infected by the plague the food is, the stronger the influence it will have on the serum. As you progress levels you become stronger, gaining access to new skills/abilities that are inhuman in nature but help keep you alive longer, albeit it picks up some nasty side-effects like a few mandatory negative perks and the occasional acid trip leading to an equally terrifying nightmare. Then there are times when those “nightmares” end up being acid trips instead, like what happens when the Protagonist visits the Church Ruins under the influence of the liquid cocktails and thinks a man living there was instead a Black Chomper trying to kill him.
  • Final Death Mode: Nightmare Mode.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Antek the Red Chompernote , who is chained up in the basement of the Mayor’s House. If you kill the Villagers’s Sow located in the Pig Shed of the Silent Forest, they’ll sic Antek on you in retaliation.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Upon showing the “Road to Home” photo to several characters, many of them talk about how they recognized it as a mundane road that is now covered up by trees. A few like the Trader and the Wolfman, however, give cryptic warnings that it’s not what the Protagonist thinks it is, the Trader giving even more warnings that it’ll only “lead deeper into the forest.” Upon entering the “Road to Home” in the epilogue, you’re being ensnared by a Lotus-Eater Machine set up by “The Being” to trick you into sleeping under its control.
    • After spending a few days in the Dry Meadow area, there’s a special night event in its hideout where the Protagonist hears someone saying “I want to go home” in the bedroom area. Upon visiting it, either during the night or during the morning of the next day, the Protagonist will see a man sitting on the bed who will say “We need to get away from here,” all the while strange ambient music plays while the Protagonist is near him. As the “Apartment” dream sequence showcases and the epilogue confirms, that mysterious man is the Protagonist himself, revealing that his utmost desire is to return home, where either his wife or girlfriend lives that he also desperately wants to see again.
    • After exiting the Silent Forest Entrance, you can find a man titled as a “Sleeper,” who can be looted for shotgun shells and a map. Upon leaving him, the Sleeper reveals he can talk, calls the Protagonist a friend, and tells him to look under the floor tiles in the last hideout. He’s not talking about the Swamp, he’s talking about your apartment room in the epilogue. If you witness at least two strange events taking place in the apartment complex before entering your room, you can rip the floor tiles out with a screw driver after moving all the furniture around in the living room area, which leads to your bed that has a hidden tunnel underneath it. Entering it leads to the discovery of “The Being,” where countless other Sleepers are trapped.
    • There’s a lot of symbolism involving lying down and going to sleep, with many dream sequences having you fall asleep in order to end them and receive a reward in the real world. This is the influence of “The Being” trying to get the Protagonist to fall under its complete control, which is discovered in the True Ending if you investigate the Apartment complex and discover at least two odd sights revealing the Protagonist is trapped within a Lotus-Eater Machine.
    • In the Swamp, there is a giant pyre that has the charred remains of dead bodies surrounded by flames and trees, foreshadowing the burning of “The Being” and its countless victims under its control in the True Ending, should you choose not to accept its invitation to fall asleep once again.
    • Throughout the game, you can find clues of military intervention in the Darkwood - army corpses, the hideouts, and more with references to a group called “The Outsiders.” Specifically, you can find a note in the Old Woods Hideout detailing a soldier named Maciek going crazy and deserting with numerous supplies, running off into the forest and never being seen again. You find him in the True Ending, who clutches a flamethrower that he stole from the Outsiders, and who the Protagonist calls “one of their own,” proving the Protagonist’s links to the group. He can confiscate Maciek’s flamethrower after giving him a brutal beatdown, making Maciek a Chekhov's Gunman when the Protagonist uses the flamethrower to burn everything in sight, along with “The Being” who was responsible for everything that happened to the forest.
  • Harmony Versus Discipline: The Protagonist resembles Discipline, being a hardened survivor who isn’t native to the forest, thus he has to deal with its dark and mysterious forest eco-system that contains several natural dangers as well as mutated abominations that are either hostile or neutral towards him. In the epilogue, savvy players can discover that the Apartment Bloc is actually a Lotus-Eater Machine created by a mysterious Eldritch Abomination known as “The Being.” They have to make a final choice of whether to accept the Being’s offer to make the Protagonist one of its “Sleepers” like other people under its control, thus choosing “Harmony” and embracing whatever the Being has planned for humankind, or decide it’s too dangerous to let live, choosing “Discipline” and set the Being along with the entire forest on fire with a flamethrower, ensuring the rest of humankind is safe from the mechanisms of an Eldritch Abomination that spawned horrifying monsters for unknown reasons (or at least made said entity flee for the time being).
  • Hated by All: Everyone in the forest (except the Musician) hates the Doctor, believing him to be a quack who gave them fake medical advice to deal with the plague. In reality he was a normal doctor, having done standard routine jobs like pulling out milk teeth and curing normal illnesses as he reveals in the Swamp if you spare him, but he had no way of dealing with a seemingly supernatural plague and even committed brutal experiments on corpses and insane patients in desperation to find a cure for it.
  • Healing Spring: In earlier alphas, the Protagonist had to go to the hideout’s well each night to stave off a dangerous debuff called "The Thirst". After it was cut, wells were too, but in later builds they were re-instated as a source of healing that can be used once a day.
  • Heroic Mime: The Protagonist is mute, due to his body mutating after “the incident” that happened to him a few days before entering the forest, though he can express himself well enough.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The True Ending, wherein the Protagonist burns down “The Being,” an Eldritch Abomination who is responsible for all the supernatural happenings in the forest and the mind enslavement of its inhabitants, which comes at the cost of the Protagonist’s life.
  • Horror Hunger: Zig-Zagged. The Protagonist doesn't need to eat or drink ever since an "incident" where a group of people including himself were attacked at their camp; he finds that bizarre. However, he can still eat normal food and drinking regular water from a well heals him, though he can instead cook some of the more questionable plague-related food he finds (e.g. "odd meat" which may or may not have come from former humans). Upon cooking the plague-related food substances into a serum, the Protagonist injects himself with it and gains various abilities — both good and bad.
  • Horrifying the Horror: If the Protagonist unlocks the “Scream” ability, he can once a day yell an inhuman scream so terrifying that the likes of Red Chompers and Human Spiders will freak out and bail.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Many of the characters you meet are clearly mutated, usually via the plague infecting the forest, but others have origins that are never conclusively revealed, leaving how they came to be up to the imagination (and horror) of the player. They come in all shapes in sizes too, like the Mushroom Granny who appears to be a sapient mushroom construct that looks like an old grandmother and is kind, or the Wolfman who has an explosive temper and sadistic attitude. It’s later revealed the Trader you did business with in the mornings was a mushroom construct himself, upon finding his decapitated corpse in the Swamp.
  • Hypocrite: In addition to most of the villagers being Ax-Crazy, they come after you seeing you as a monster, refusing to accept they too have seen better days, and even worse, keep mutated animals and livestock of their own. Let alone the horrific “Sow” they keep nearby.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Played with at several points of the game.
    • One particular food item the Protagonist can cook and distill into a serum is “odd meat,” some of which came from monsters that are hinted to have formerly been humans. It’s debatable if cooking and turning said meat into an injectable serum is the same as cannibalism, but the Protagonist can also just eat the meat raw, though whether or not consuming meat from a monster that used to be human is the same deal is also debatable.
    • Since the Protagonist loves mushrooms so much, the game gives you the option to devour a sapient granny-like figure who is made of mushrooms herself, albeit that means the Protagonist is instead devouring a mushroom being who only resembles a human.
  • Improbable Weapon User: All of the melee weapons in-game are either crudely crafted, improvised, or tools, yet the Protagonist makes uses of whatever he can get.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: The Single Shot Shotgun; it will annihilate most enemies with one shot at point blank range, which is the average distance of enemies trying to kill you in Darkwood. You can stock up on shotgun shells as early as the second day from the morning trader, they're cheap to buy, and if you save up enough reputation you can build this shotgun as early as the Silent Woodsnote . It remains a reliable choice for defense even in the Swamp where shotgun shells are plentiful when looting, remaining as a mainstay until you unlock the Pump Action Shotgun and/or find the Assault Rifle.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Assault Rifle, which combines strong damage, high accuracy when fired from a distance, reasonable magazine size (twenty rounds), and being able to fire it in bursts to kill mobs of enemies as well as a single target with high health, making it the most versatile firearm for any situation. It can even be obtained early by murdering the Wolfman which can be done easilyhow? . The problem holding this firearm back is that ammunition for it is rare and cannot be bought by anyone, forcing you to loot them from random crates as well as near military landmarks (e.g. the wrecked tanks you can find in the Silent Forest). Players doing a speed run play-through will almost never be able to justify the time it takes to find this weapon outside of cheesing the Wolfman early in chapter one, and even then you’ll have little ammunition to work with if you obtain the firearm this way.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: A variant that behaves differently depending on the time of day and your location. It runs much faster during the night than during the day: One hour of daytime lasts 48 seconds and one hour of night equals around 22.5 seconds. The clock also freezes at 8:00 AM after nighttime ends inside the hideout until you leave it, plus while you’re inside any major locations separate from the main map (e.g. The Village in the Silent Forest).
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: Par for the course in Survival Horror adventures, it develops into a management planning affair since you can't carry everything with you and only have a limited amount of space in every hideout to store lootnote . The game does offer a small breather with the Bike Man, who can be summoned at a hideout using a bike bell found in the Silent Woods hideout. He can transfer items found in containers between the hideouts if you give him a bottle of alcohol, but it takes time to deliver them and he will not appear in the Swamp.
  • Item Crafting: A key component of the game. Almost everything has to be crafted because finding anything useful pre-assembled is rare.
  • Jerkass: The Protagonist isn’t a nice person. His thoughts recorded in his journal reveal him to be rather methodical and calculating, mostly doing things that will further his goals without showing empathy towards anyone else. That being said, he does has a soft spot for Piotrek and considers helping him achieve his goal of building a rocket, despite knowing how ludicrous his dream is, plus continual interactions with the Musician will lead to the Protagonist becoming more aware of the boy’s condition.
  • Jump Scare: The developers wanted to avert this, believing jump scares to be “cheap horror tricks,” instead using ambient music as well as sound effects in order to create an atmospheric feeling of tension. That being said, should you not pay close attention to the sounds, it’s possible to run into dangerous monsters out of nowhere that are trying to murder you.
  • Kill It with Fire: One of the more effective ways to kill monsters is hurling Molotov cocktails at them, which will rapidly drain their health. You can also pour gasoline on the ground and light it with a match, flare, or Molotov cocktail, which can be used to set up a temporary wall of fire or clear patches of worm infestations.
    • In the Swamp, you have the option to do this to the Talking Tree. While none of the human-like visages making up its being are hostile, it’s hinted to be located on the “Road to Home” that can be seen on a photo carried by the Protagonist. Attempting to climb the tree will end in failure as it tries to absorb you, and the trees surrounding it are too thick to move past, though one of the “humans” making up the tree will hint that you visit the Radio Tower while the Cripple requests you burn it down at its roots underground. If you burn it, you must face the daunting “Inferno” night event since you cannot go past the burning tree until the next day, when it’s nothing but ashes. On the flip side, should you succeed in completing the Final Dream Sequence that takes place in the Radio Tower, you’ll have found another way to get past the Talking Tree without burning it, for which it will personally thank the Protagonist.
    • In the epilogue, you can pull this off on “The Being”, burning it and its many people under its thrall along with the entire forest, albeit this comes at the cost of the Protagonist’s life and several other people living in the forest. It’s left ambiguous if the Being actually perished in the fire, but what is known is that the forest is finally open to the world once again with its madness having come to an end.
  • Light Is Good: Light is an important recurring theme throughout the game, especially since Darkness Equals Death in many different parts.
    • At day time, it’s important to have a light source for seeing better in dark places that may hide dangerous creatures - many of which hate light. This also helps reveal shiny stones on the ground which shimmer when the Protagonist aims a light source at them (e.g. lantern).
    • At night, light from the lamps as well as floodlights are the only way to see anything outside of items (e.g. flares). Even though it attracts unwanted attention, you have no choice but to turn them on since the protection gas that comes from your hideout's oven can only do so much. Those riddled with the plague generally hate bright lights since it disorients and weakens them, and hiding in the darkness is pointless since they'll find you regardless. To survive, you'll need to keep your generator topped off with gasoline daily to power the lamps and fixed floodlights during the night, and even then some night events will screw with them.
    • In the Swamp, some enemies are covered with a black miasma called “Shadow Armor” that makes them nigh impervious to damage, but it can be defeated by shining a light source on them (e.g. flashlight, torch, lantern). Once you remove the Shadow Armor, the enemy is vulnerable to damage once more.
    • Averted with the Glares, who harm you if you look at or touch them. They’re often near high tier loot as a way of luring the Protagonist to get near them and they will not harm enemies. At nighttime, Glares can spawn at your hideout in a rare and dangerous night event.
    • In the epilogue, this is zig-zagged with “The Being”, an entity of light who is responsible for everything that has happened to the forest and to its inhabitants. There’s nothing to suggest the The Being is intentionally hostile to humanity, but it’s responsible for creating several nightmarish creatures, leaving it up to the player whether it should be burned to keep the rest of humankind safe or embrace it and find out what it has planned for humankind.
  • The Lost Woods: Darkwood takes place in a forest somewhere in Poland. Things... aren't going well in there.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: In the True Ending, you discover the seemingly normal apartment block the Stranger escapes to at the Epilogue is one of these, created by an alien entity known as “The Being” that has entrapped many people. If you choose to confiscate Maciek’s stolen flamethrower and set everything ablaze, including the Being, the ending implies it was responsible for the insanity in the forest and things may return to normal now that it's dead.
  • Lunacy: A dangerous night event called “Full Moon” causes Dogs and Huge Dogs to spawn en masse near your hideout, complete with howling at night as well as unique ambient music to showcase it’s begun. On the plus side, the dogs don’t like other enemies very much and may fight each other. The bad news is this can happen in your hideout after the large mob of enemies ripped your barricades apart. The even worse news is the mob of enemies don’t like you either.
  • Made of Explodium: Mushrooms explode and poison the player when stepped on, though larger ones can be harvested. There is also the Mushroom Men who will rush at you and blow up.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Different enemy types may fight each other as well as the player if their paths cross.
  • Mind Virus: Prolonged exposure to the forest and/or getting infected by the plague makes people go nuts, becoming paranoid and often hearing a voice that lures them deeper into the woods; they might even forget bits of their past. The “Outsiders,” aka the Polish military and their researchers, have had people enter and exit the forest in the past without problems, indicating whatever “The Being” uses to corrupt humans may be preventable.
  • Molotov Cocktail: These can be crafted as well as looted from various places. When thrown, it will explode, inflicting burning damage upon the target and set a large area ablaze, which is helpful not only for dealing a huge chunk of damage to almost everything but also to block enemies off with a wall of fire.
  • Mundane Horror: The Dry Meadow is a peaceful and ordinary looking place, a complete opposite of the woods that the Protagonist was discovered in during the prologue. That being said, there are areas with strange markings on the ground where non-hostile Savages can be found, and walking near some of the bigger markings will give you a creepy forecast of what’s to come as you venture deeper into the woods...
  • Mundanger: One of the most dangerous roaming creatures in the early maps is a normal elk, which turns aggressive if you get too close to it and is tough to kill.
  • Nature Is Not Nice: Even the non-supernatural parts of the game remind you that nature isn’t your friend. Wild dogs are territorial, will bark at you as a warning if you get too close, and a pack of dogs can work together to overwhelm you. Elk are aggressive, attacking you on sight if you’re close to them; they’re tough to take down without a decent weapon. Finally, due to the lack of electrical lighting, at nighttime it’s impossible for you to see outside without a light source of your own, whereas many animals can smell you from a distance and/or have night vision.
  • The Needless: The Protagonist doesn't have to eat or drink anymore, plus he never sleeps unless knocked out by the liquid cocktails (made from cooked plague-infected food) he takes to level up, all due to "the incident" that occurred before the game's events. That said, consuming food and drink still provides healing and/or temporary buffs, though in some cases like alcohol he can suffer drawbacks too like impaired vision.
  • Nice Day, Deadly Night: Going outside after sunset is a verified way to commit instant suicide. At night, creatures become much more hostile, and an ultra-aggressive, formless red mass called the Floor Gore pursues and kills any non-natives that aren't protected by the gas produced by the ovens in the hideouts.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: As a rule of thumb, anything good you do can blow up in your face spectacularly. For instance, helping the Snail in the Swamp escape the cords that tether him to a house. He’ll move to the Radio Tower, which unfortunately happened to be a Banshee nest, where he’ll be eaten to death.
  • No Name Given: The Stranger, the Doctor, Mushroom Granny, Musician, Pretty Lady... so on. And the Wolfman as well (assuming that he Was Once a Man).
  • No Party Like a Donner Party:
    • In the Village, you can break into a warehouse that has several brick ovens inside. If you enter the locked room within, you’ll find several corpses. Nearby happens to be the Butcher’s House, who unusually has no problems with you taking his “jars of meat” inside. Considering that the Villagers are suffering a famine, not to mention there is too little livestock to feed everyone, it becomes clear what exactly the “meat” in some of those jars are.
    • Played with regarding the Mushroom Granny. Under certain circumstances the villagers will break through to the Swamp area and proceed to eat the Mushroom Granny if you didn't eat her first. The conditions being: kill the Sow, don't eat the Granny yourself, but don't accept her quest to seal the villagers in the quarry either, or at least turn it in before all of them are dead.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Nights at your hideout are anxiety fuel; enemy encounters and events are random plus you won’t know what to expect due to your limited vision being reliant on light. One night you could have a horde of monsters gunning for your ass, the next night some horrifying night event like hallucinating that the ground is made of human flesh, then the next night... nothing. Nothing except the hideout creaking and the noises.
  • Ominous Knocking: This can occur as a night event. There will be knocking at the front door of the hideout, which happens in three phases with the knocking becoming louder and more frantic as time goes on. If you do not open the door whoever or whatever is knocking on the door will either destroy the boards barricading it or the door itself. If you open the door there will be no one there, but you will find a random beneficial item on the ground for your troubles. There is a special variant of this night event in the Dry Meadow hideout, one that leaves behind an invitation envelope that gives you access to the “Wedding” side quest.
  • One Bullet Clips: Zig-Zagged. The pistol and the assault rifle can be reloaded before the magazine is empty... at the expense of the old magazine and its ammo being gone forever. This adds a layer of tension since players will be tempted to reload a new magazine before entering a dangerous area, all so they don’t have to stop running to reload in the middle of danger, but doing so means wasting ammo if you hadn’t emptied the current magazine. Also, any firearm magazines you loot will have its remaining rounds of ammunition found loaded to max capacity, yet if you find a firearm itself there’s no guarantee it’ll come loaded with ammunition either.
  • Perpetual Storm: The Great Lake in the Swamp is afflicted by one, making it a dangerous place to visit. The darkness and limited land makes it hard to navigate, plus there are slumbering monsters covered in Shadow Armor who can be woken up if a light source is shined on them, but traveling there can lead to high tier lootnote . You can dissipate the storm by attacking a giant pig snout anchored to the ground, making travel through the location easier, but it wakes up every single creature that slumbered in the area as well.
  • Piñata Enemy: Savages can be rather lucrative to fight. While the items they carry seem like junk at first, many of them are used to craft useful items. They’re also one of the easier enemies to fight, albeit given the nature of this game they’re still capable of killing players with ease and working together to gang up on you.
  • Point of No Return: Upon reaching the entrance that leads to the Swamp, the Protagonist realizes this is a one way trip, therefore the player should plan appropriately with the items they want to bring. If you spared the Doctor after finding him at the Train Wreck in the Old Woods and agree to accompany him to the Underground Entrance, he will warn the Protagonist that the entrance is a one-way trip, giving players an earlier warning to start planning.
  • Poltergeist: Several night events feature poltergeist activity, doing mischievous actions like opening a non-barricaded door or causing the furniture in a room to shake and move around.
  • Practical Currency: The way to obtain and sell goods is a simple barter system, but with a catch: most items have a pre-set value called “Reputation,” which acts as a form of credit that must be earned with every merchant you findnote . Since many items have a set Reputation value regardless of circumstances, it leads to cases like a cloth you found off a dead body being worth the same as one you found tucked away in a cabinet that is far cleaner. Though considering how the local area is devolving into a Crapsack World where useful goods are scarce, the merchants might not have much choice but to ignore the condition of the items other than how much utility they can get out of them.
  • Primal Fear
    • Fear of the dark is a prominent theme in-game. There are zero advantages for the Protagonist that involve being in darkness, enemies can operate in the dark just fine unlike him, and the “Shadows” night event is lethal if he cannot find a working light source in time. “The Being” seems to know this about humans, for it lulls unsuspecting people into falling under its thrall by portraying itself as a bright light, one that brings comfort and joy to anyone that embraces it. Whether or not it’s doing so for beneficial or malicious reasons is unknown.
    • The game also explores the fear of not being safe within your own home, in this case a hideout. Homes and shelters are supposed to provide comfort and safety, protecting oneself from the dangers of the outside world. In this game, monsters have zero problems invading the Protagonist’s shelter at night to tear him a new one, and in the Silent Woods you can on rare occasions catch Villagers wandering your hideout, which isn’t too different from real life home invaders.
  • Punch-Packing Pistol: The Single Shot Pistol, a handgun that deals far more damage than a normal pistol would in one shotnote . It can only be fired once, but it can be crafted as early as a level three workbench and requires commonplace items to make.
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: Zig zagged. The red-orange light of dusk is a clear warning that you should run back to the hideout before the Floor Gore has its way with you, but the bright red light of sunrise shining through the cracks of the hideout means that the terrors of the night are about to end.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: Knowing what to craft with items you buy/loot is crucial to survival, especially since many of the item recipes call for similar parts to create. What’s trickier is that some items like gasoline canisters are necessary to stand any chance of living through the night, and as you advance hideouts they have different flaws that requires you to switch up your tactics with what you craft to protect yourself. It doesn’t help matters that the game throws increasingly hostile night events at you that can ruin your hideout even faster, forcing you to decide whether to invest more resources into fortifying your hideout or building items that’ll help you survive during your day treks.
  • The Reveal:
    • The source of the plague is revealed to be an Eldritch Abomination known as “The Being,” who has been abducting humans into its collective and warped the woods into its nightmarish form. There’s no indicator whether it’s intentionally malicious or not towards humans, only that it wants them to sleep under its control.
    • The Protagonist’s mission he set out to accomplish originally was to study the woods alongside the other “Outsiders,” a military group he is a part of, figuring out what was causing everything to grow out of control as well as infecting humans and the wildlife. This is discovered if you beat the final dream sequence in the Radio Tower found within the Swamp, which gives you a way to escape the forest without having to burn the Talking Tree.
      You come across an observation post with soldier corpses as well as dead Savages, revealing that the “incident” remarked at the beginning of the journal was his campsite and fellow soldiers/researchers being attacked by Savages. You also find a scarecrow wearing a protective suit (like the original morning trader wore) alongside two scarecrows that wear a trench coat and farmer hat, exactly like the Protagonist is wearing, indicating he replaced his outfit at some point and either entered the woods or was dragged and left there
  • Self-Deprecation: If the Protagonist's remark at his own reflection in a mirror is anything to go by, he doesn't like himself very much.
    "You are one ugly bastard. I guess you got what you deserved."
  • Shop Fodder: Some items are without functione.g.  and are only collected to build up Reputation with the traders; shiny stones are among the most valuable examples of this. Other items are useful initially, but once you fulfilled their purpose then any spares you find are only worth selling. For example, fabric and rope count after the limit for permanent hot bar/inventory upgrades are reached.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Every shotgun in the game is capable of killing normal enemies in one or two shots, and since shotgun shells are cheap to buy players can stock up on them before they craft their first reloadable shotgun. Furthermore, almost every enemy in the game likes to get close to the Protagonist, making it easier to hit them.
  • Shout-Out: In the Apartment Dream, the tv show you can watch for a short while if you turn the tv on is Floppy Bear from Polish media.
  • Shovel Strike: The shovel is one of the better melee weapons in the game; it boasts a long and wide swinging range, can be crafted early on with a low-level workbench, and can dig some rubble sites as well as dirt/trash mounds for items at the cost of some durability. The catch is it's painfully slow to swing and fully charge its primary attack, so timing is key when using it.
  • Simple, yet Awesome:
    • Lanterns. Requiring commonplace items to create, they grant you 360 degrees of light that doesn’t take up your hands to use and lasts almost an entire day. This is useful for finding shining stones on the ground and fighting enemies in the dark with a proper weapon.
    • Glass Traps. By throwing an empty bottle at the ground, you create makeshift caltrops that won’t hurt nor be triggered by the Protagonist and can be repositioned at will. While it deals only a modest amount of damage, enemies will cry out loud when they step on them, giving you a good idea where they are located in the darkness of your hideout at night.
    • The Navigator skill. One of the first obtainable skills, it allows the Protagonist to mark where they are on the map, which is invaluable for saving time trying to figure out where you are and where you need to be. In true macabre fashion, the Protagonist accomplishes this by severing a piece of his body unto the ground, which has the double bonus of acting as a meat bait that can distract nearby carnivorous enemies.
    • The homemade firearms. The Single Shot Pistol deals a considerable amount of damage that can one shot regular mooks like Huge Dogs, plus it can scare off an entire pack of wild dogs when fired. As for the Homemade Shotgun, it’s practically a Double Barrel Shotgun. The only weakness for both firearms is they are not reloadable, but the objects they’re made of are commonplace and can be crafted at early workbench levels.
    • Gas Bottles. While it can only be made using rotted mushrooms and spoiled odd meat — which can delay leveling up — they’re one of the most versatile thrown weapons and made with easily found items. The initial gas cloud deals considerable damage to enemies at a chokepoint and if ignited (using a match or flare) it deals heavy fire damage. It can also be thrown at a fire to create an incendiary blast like a Molotov Cocktail. Next, the gas itself won’t damage barricades, doors, and non-incendiary traps, making it safe to use against swarms of enemies like Banshee Babies without having to worry about your hideout’s defenses. Finally, the gas can seep past windows/walls, allowing you to harm enemies trying to break into your hideout.
  • The Sleepless: The Protagonist doesn’t need sleep to function well, due to his mutated body no longer requiring it, which is a major advantage in a forest where violent monsters continue to invade his hideout at night and try to rip him apart. However, the liquid cocktails made from plague-infected food that he injects into himself can make him go to sleep on occasion; it never turns out well.
  • Soulslike RPG: The developers have stated that one of the biggest inspirations behind Darkwood is none other than Dark Souls. Considering that the gameplay is difficult with the early game enemies being able to murder you with ease (and it only gets worse from there), the story is learned as you play the game with almost no cinematic cutscenes and plenty of vague and interpretable information, plus you have to manage both health and stamina in hostile situations to survive, it’s not hard to see how much the aforementioned game influenced Darkwood.
  • Sound-Coded for Your Convenience: Every enemy and object has specific sounds they make; part of the horror experience is trying to make sense of them in areas with limited visibility. Randomly occurring night events even have these, adding to the tension of the dangers that lurk in the darkness.
  • Spotting the Thread: You can figure out the epilogue is a dream if you pursue enough hints throughout the area, but the main tipoff that the Protagonist is stuck in a Lotus-Eater Machine would be the people outside your apartment speaking to the Protagonist and he speaks back. This is after spending the whole game being a disfigured mutant who can't even speak anymore.
  • Sprint Meter: The Protagonist has a stamina bar that is depleted when sprinting, fighting with melee weapons, or using the dodge ability. It replenishes itself if the Protagonist does nothing that would burn stamina, replenishes even faster if the Protagonist stands still, and certain consumable items will quicken stamina recovery as well as allow the Protagonist to sprint for longer periods of time before needing to rest.
  • Story Breadcrumbs: This is how the storyline is told. The only cinematic cutscene in the game is the beginning intro, leaving players to find out how the world of Darkwood devolved into its current situation by picking up key items, talking to the residents (sane or not), and exploring the environment for clues.
  • Super Serum: How the game justifies leveling up. You distill a liquid drug from harvestable mushrooms, some regular foods, other general oddities like “embryos” that grow in the wilderness, and “odd meat” which may or may not have come from former humans. Once you have enough serum to fill a syringe full with it, the drug allows you to choose one perk and occasionally one mandatory drawback per dose, though occasionally the Protagonist goes through an acid trip involving dreams that devolve into nightmares.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: For a game that warns it won’t be easy, nor will hand-holding be a thing, you start off fairly well. Not only can you loot valuable items in your hideout stress-free, visiting the Underground Passage house not too far away that the Protagonist hints you should do nets you even more valuable items. Altogether, you can have a torch, healing bandages, a full tank of gas, various loot for crafting more items, just enough planks as well as nails to craft a board with nails to protect yourself, and enough mushrooms to get your first level up at the oven before you set out to explore the world. Then you try fighting a simple wild dog or an elk and everything goes down hill from there, not to mention that easy level up you picked up activates one of the deadliest night events — “The Shadows” — for the rest of the game.
  • Taxidermy Is Creepy: Upon entering the large barn in the Old Woods, you’ll find the Wolfman has made it his den, which is filled with stuffed human beings. Although it’s unknown how he acquired the cadavers in the first place, the fact that he owns firearms and wears a outdoorsman jacket with a bullet hole in it leaves open the possibility he hunted them down and/or took the bodies he looted from (among other possibilities), though the game never reveals the truth.
  • Technically Living Zombie: The basic humanoid enemy is the Savage, a human who has devolved to a mindless, primal state due to the plague. Afflicted locals who don't go Savage have it even worse, rotting away while self-aware and evolving into Red Chompers as the Church Ruins in the Old Woods reveals.
    • The Protagonist can become Savage-like by doping himself with serum made from plague infected food to level up. For instance, unlocking the “Appetite” skill allows the Protagonist to restore health by eating wooden logs and boards, mimicking the Savages’s ability to consume wood.
  • Ten-Second Flashlight: The military flashlight runs quite a bit brighter than the regular flashlight, but goes through batteries twice as fast... not that the regular flashlight is much better. Averted in certain dream sequences where the Protagonist has a military flashlight with unlimited battery life, but given the nightmarish environments you’re investigating you’ll wish you had a weapon instead.
  • There's No Place Like Home: As the “Apartment” dream sequence, the “Bedfellow” night event in the Dry Meadow Hideout and the epilogue reveals, getting back home is the true desire of the Protagonist.
  • Tomato Surprise: Many NPCs in Darkwood treat the Protagonist with hostility, accusing him of being one of the “Outsiders” — a group of people intruding into the forest that are attempting to achieve an unknown goal. The True Ending during the Epilogue reveals that the Protagonist is indeed one of the "Outsiders"; a confirmed one named Maciek shows up near The Being, who was revealed by a note in the Old Woods Hideout to have defected days ago and stole a flamethrower. The Protagonist states that Maciek is "one of our own," confirming the former's link to the group, and likely has ties to the military considering the Outsiders did.
  • Tragic Dream:
    • Piotrek wants to build a rocket that will rival Yuri Gagarin's and take him into space; the Wolfman detests the lunatic so much that he's more than happy to sabotage Piotrek’s dreams. If the Wolfman finds out the Protagonist is collecting parts for Piotrek, the Wolfman will ask for one of the parts, and if the Protagonist agrees then the Wolfman rigs it with a bomb, ensuring that Piotrek will die once he activates the rocket upon completion. Unfortunately, the Wolfman neglects to mention the bomb part to the Protagonist until it’s too late.
      • If the Protagonist does give all the necessary parts to Piotrek and doesn’t allow the Wolfman to tinker with one of them, Piotrek’s rocket still blows up after traveling some distance in the air. You’ll find his corpse and the remains of his rocket in the junkyard of the Swamp, meaning the only way to keep someone as loony as Piotrek alive is to ensure his unrealistic dream is never fulfilled for his own safety.
    • In the epilogue, the Protagonist is confirmed to be the mysterious man in the “Bedfellow” night event at the Dry Meadow Hideout who wanted to go home, and he thinks at first he has finally achieved his goal... until he sees enough strange mishaps throughout the building that his apartment room has strange roots behind them. After moving around all the furniture, removing the floor tiles leading to the bedroom, and choosing to go under the bed rather than go to sleep, he learns that he was in a Lotus-Eater Machine that trapped him with countless other people that are brainwashed by “The Being,” an Eldritch Abomination trying to gather humans who sleep and act under its thrall. The Protagonist realizes he is trapped, can never go home again, and either accepts falling under The Being’s control or confiscates a stolen flamethrower from a man named Maciek, making sure no one else suffers the same fate he did by burning everything around him which leads to his own death.
  • Trap Master:
    • The Mother of the Elephants is one, having set up numerous bear traps leading to their hideout in the Swamp.
    • The Protagonist himself can be one, using various resources you find during the day to create traps that can protect you during the night from hostile invaders.
  • Truth Serum: The Doctor uses one to force the Protagonist to give up information about the latter's key at the start of the game; he doesn't because he can't physically speak, leading to the Doctor disappearing and the Protagonist being forced to find his way out. If you give the Musician the "Key Covered in Chicken Feces" and the violin at the Creepy House, he informs the Doctor — now hiding at the Train Wreck — that you're coming, not knowing what you went through with the Doctor and giving him time to set up a gas trap that knocks the Protagonist out. If you fail to complete the Train Wreck dream, this time around, the Protagonist succumbs to the truth serum and shows the Doctor where the Underground Entrance and Bunker Entrance are located — presumably by pointing it out on a map. Once the Protagonist wakes up, the Doctor will have already left.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Since looting is vital to winning the game, players who leave their hideouts carrying as little as possible and returning with a full stash of valuable items will have an easier time advancing into later parts of the game. On the flip side, players who carry a great deal of gear to help them survive in the wilderness and thus pick up less items — or die too often and cannot retrieve much of their lost loot/gear — will have more difficulty surviving later portions of the game.
    • To challenge those who got too good at looting and stashing away a great deal of useful gear/items, the game will not allow the Bike Man to visit the Swamp Hideout in chapter two, meaning you can only bring what you can carry and must start over looting again in a dangerous environment.
  • Useless Useful Skill: The dodge ability, which you start off with. Most enemies will run straight at you to close the distance, which the dodge skill won’t help against since you only jump backwards a small distance yourself, making running while circle strafing around enemies a far better tactic to avoid getting hit when they lunge at you. In the case of ranged attacks, you have no choice but to side step and/or circle strafe around them in order to avoid taking damage. The dodge ability’s only real use is to traverse deep water faster by jumping backwards towards your destination.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You can choose to help some people in the forest, but given the nature of the setting do not expect them to return the favor.
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential: Darkwood is an amoral and cruel place, one where players learn pretty quickly that looking out for yourself keeps you alive longer. In many cases, the Protagonist is rewarded for committing horrible acts against the other denizens in a bid for freedom, with the only judge for your actions being yourself and the people you've betrayed.
  • Was Once a Man: As entries in the Protagonist’s journal as well as comments by characters like the Wolfman indicate, the Protagonist is slowly becoming more human-like rather than being a normal man. Upon looking at a broken mirror near the Pig Shed in the Silent Forest, it’s revealed that if he didn’t wear a trench coat, farmer hat, and wrapped his face with a scarf that he’d look ghastly, his eerie blue eyes and pale skin being the only part we see that showcase this.
  • Weakened by the Light: Some objects in the Swamp are covered by a writhing black mass called “Shadow Armor” that the Protagonist cannot interact with. If attached to an enemy, it makes them invulnerable to damage. In either case, it can be burned off with a light brighter than ambient lighting, be it electric or fire.
  • When Trees Attack: Subverted. The trees have grown large and out-of-control for unknown reasons, cutting off roads and rail-links which has further exacerbated Darkwood's societal collapse, but even as the game progresses they do not harm the Protagonist. Played straight, however, if you choose to burn the Talking Tree in the Swamp and survive to see the night that same day. Enraged at your decision to set it on fire, the surviving human-like beings that made up its composition will run out of a giant inferno which starts in your hideout, doing their best to take you along with them while the blaze gets bigger and threatens to consume the entire hideout.
  • Will-o'-the-Wisp: The Glares, strange floating orbs of red light that harm the Protagonist if he looks at or touches them. They naturally appear at the Swamp, surrounded by possible high tier loot to draw the Protagonist into a deadly area filled with obstacles and traps. They will not harm other enemies, who will gleefully take advantage of the situation to rip you apart.
    • Unfortunately, they also appear during two different night events as early as the Old Woods Hideout: one where a Red Glare spawns at random places in the hideout, another where a Red Glare spawns at your current location, forcing you to move in order to avoid it.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The ending has a paragraph of text for each of the major NPCs you met throughout the game, telling you what happened to them after the Stranger’s journey has come to an end.