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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 along with pages of his journal, then run away to parts unknown.

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 very little environmental music and relying on 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 when you least expect it.

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 while fending off the dangers of the forest, 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.
  • Abandoned Area: The forest at one point had several homes, but the Polish military forced most of the residents out when the Plague became a serious threat and thus many former residences are either being taken over by the green or were burned beforehand.
  • Ability Depletion Penalty: The tier three negative skills penalize poor management of your stamina:
    • “Weak Lungs” doubles the time it takes to begin recovering your stamina once more if you completely exhaust your stamina bar.
    • “Weakness” reduces all melee damage dealt by the Protagonist to fifty percent if his 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, yet rather than eaten it’s 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 one of these “nightmares” ends up being an acid trip instead that made the Protagonist go crazy. It’s the one involving the Church Ruins in the Old Woods where he hallucinates that a man living in the ruins is instead a violent Black Chomper.
  • Action Survivor: While his plague-infected body makes the Protagonist anything but normal, he is otherwise a random schmuck stuck in a dangerous forest who wants to escape ASAP. He’s also able to craft survival items and weapons out of junk and random gear he finds.
  • Addressing the Player: In the Pig Shed of the Silent Forest the Protagonist can find a busted mirror in the generator room, declaring “You are an ugly bastard. I guess you got what you deserved.” upon seeing his reflection. While this does show he loathes himself, note that he’s looking in your direction when he says this. Whether you entered the shed to loot it, avenge Hanuska’s family by killing the Sow (and to obtain a special reward from the Wolfman),note  fix the cables to help the Villagers (who will spite you regardless), or simply because you wanted to, you had to murder at least one innocent Villager to reach the generator room. The Protagonist is scolding you for your heartless actions, complete with his Icy Blue Eyes judging you. There’s a reason you’ll come across the broken mirror first before the generator.
  • The Alcoholic: The Bike Man; he can be summoned to your hideout if you ring a bike bell that is found on the Silent Woods Hideout’s workbench. 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 occupying,note  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.
  • 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, who helps the Protagonist... in his own way.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • When morning comes a special buff called "Time Freeze" activates that stops time as long as you stay close to the hideout. It allows you to trade with the NPCs, make plans for looting during the day, craft supplies, re-barricade your hideout, and prepare 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 as well as the Doctor's House when you re-visit the area.
    • There are obtainable maps that mark the next area’s hideout on your map, saving you the time and trouble of finding them yourself.locations? 
    • Traders appear in the morning at your hideout who 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.
    • Some NPCs like the Wolfman will give proper directions to important spots (whose locations are randomized every play through) like his camp in the Silent Forest.
    • If you die, anything in your hot bar will not drop 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 if you consume “Embryos.” 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 their homes.
  • Apocalypse How: Various lore bits reveal that the situation you face is Class 0. It turns out the Polish military has a research group that can freely enter the forest underground using tunnels, having done so to study the phenomenon that led to eldritch activity within the woods. The Protagonist himself was on his sixth visit before a group of Savages murdered everyone in his camp except him, believing he’d make an excellent tree accessory and hung his bloodied body to die.
  • Artificial Stupidity: AI pathfinding isn't always reliable in buildings that have multiple entrances. It's entirely possible for an enemy to start attacking a barricade when there's a destroyed doorway not two feet from them.
  • 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, but should you not care about leveling up they can also be left to rot after picked on purpose in order to craft gas bottles. 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” skill.note 
    • Zig-Zagged with the Double Barrel Shotgun. It can be fired twice, but it has a longer reload speed than the Single Barrel Shotgun, either of which generally only need one shot to lay out most monsters. Furthermore, upgrading the workbench to max level (which is only one more level after the one required to build the double barrel variant) lets you craft the Pump Action Shotgun, which requires nearly the same rare resources as the Double Barrel Shotgun but is objectively superior in every way, making it hard to craft both shotguns in the same play-through. There is virtually no reason not to 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 will 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. The enhanced range also won’t help at nighttime since you cannot see in the dark, so its usefulness is limited to your daytime travels away from the hideout.
  • Awesome, but Temporary: The Flamethrower. 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.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Many people start to lose their rationality over time and violently assault others for the slightest of grievances — sometimes depending on the Protagonist’s choices — and creatures who are passive or territorial during the day become aggressive when night falls.
    • Downplayed with the Protagonist, who still has his marbles despite suffering from the Plague, yet has bouts of aggression at times (especially if you level up via injecting essence made from plague-infected food into his body).
  • Barbarian Tribe: The Savages are humans who’ve degraded into more primitive mindsets due to the Plague, becoming territorial warriors who fight with large tree branches and thrown rocks. At nighttime this gets worse, for they shed the “territorial” part and will invade your hideout.
  • Bear Trap:
    • Several are found around the woods in various locations; they’re an important source for collecting scrap metal by disarming them and 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; it prevents whoever steps inside it from wandering away a short distance. 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 a Bear Trap.note 
  • Beast Man: The Wolfman. He roams the forest while offering advice, bartering items, and giving you optional quests with promises of great rewards, albeit they often involve dicking someone over.
  • Berserk Board Barricade: One strategy to stay alive at night is keeping boards and nails handy on you, so when a monster breaks down your window’s barricade (or destroys your entire door) you can fix and/or re-barricade it immediately after killing the perpetrator. This helps prevent other monsters in the area from overwhelming you by climbing through the exposed hole in your defenses. Unfortunately, you will make a lot of noise doing this; nearby enemies will figure out you're in the hideout as well as where you are.
  • Beware the Living: Many of the human inhabitants in the forest have become more than willing to murder you for the clothes on your back, especially if you try to get chummy with some of the Villagers of the Silent Forest (the Protagonist will even warn you on that matter).
  • The Big Bad Wolf: The relationships that the Wolfman has with many NPCs is reminiscent of Little Red Riding Hood. He hates the Chicken Lady, an old woman like the grandmother, had some sort of link with a hunter,how?  and his ultimate goal if you give him the "Key Covered in Chicken Feces" is to eat the Pretty Lady, aka a twisted plague-infected version of Little Red Riding Hood.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • In the “Bliss Ending,” the Protagonist walks out of the forest into a rundown 1980’s Eastern European apartment block. Upon reaching his apartment, one of his neighbors greets him and he speaks to her for a short moment. Once inside his own room, he enjoys a nice hot meal left for him by his loved one (who somehow knew he would escape the forest that day and had timed the meal preparation so that it was still hot when he stepped inside) and then goes to sleep in his bed. Meanwhile, life continues on for the inhabitants of the forest, though some meet tragic ends — even if you tried helping them — and others that you chose to maliciously harm will receive no justice because you’ve long since fled the forest. In the end all the Protagonist wanted was to go home, he got his wish, and everything is back to normal.
    • In the “Burn Them All Ending,” aka “The True Ending,” the Protagonist realizes after spotting several odd instances in the apartment that his home was 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 Protagonist 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 him finding a man named Maciek, one of the former Outsiders (who the Protagonist reveals to be “one of our own,” proving his affiliation with the Outsiders).
      Upon confiscating the flamethrower that Maciek stole before he defected and ran off into the woods, the Protagonist burns everything and everyone around him, starting a massive inferno that dissipates The Being, albeit it also causes the Protagonist to die from asphyxiation and torches the entity's sleepers which spreads to the rest of the forest and engulfs most of the NPCs you met. Though depending on your actions, it's possible for some to survive,note  and those who do are able to make contact with the outside world thanks to the trees burning down (even the Polish military lends a hand in some cases). It’s also hinted that The Being's disappearance has ended the madness tied to the forest, but there’s no guarantee it died in the inferno, and there may be other eldritch entities who are aware of humanity as well; it’s possible the whole situation may repeat itself in the future.
      • Alternatively, if the Protagonist doesn't remove his hand from “The Being” when given the option he will sleep like in the Bliss Ending, albeit he will become one of the "Sleepers" in the area and be held ransom by the will of The Being for whatever plans it has in store for its slumbering inhabitants.
  • Body Horror: Most of the characters you meet are mutated humans, abominations, or walking corpses. This includes the Protagonist who hides his face with a scarf.
  • Booby Trap: Many places are armed with various traps, requiring the Protagonist to handle the obstacle(s) with care or face the deadly consequences.
  • Border Patrol: The Floor Gore will mangle the Protagonist if he strays away from his hideout at night.
  • Boring, but Practical
    • “Stealthing Nights,” which entails making no noise by standing still in a secure location of your hideout during the night until the morning sun rises. Killing monsters can 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). Surviving the night also gives you a reasonable amount of reputation to obtain items from the morning trader. Just make sure you can handle making more repairs and replenishing traps since you’re hiding from the monsters instead of killing them before they can damage your hideout.
    • The Pistol. It lacks the raw damage 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 barter for 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 Chompers; they can be avoided but are situated in areas that contain high tier loot.where? 
  • 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.
  • Both Order and Chaos are Dangerous: On the side of Order, the Villagers of the Silent Forest have used brutal measures against anyone they believe is infected by the Plague to ensure their safety. There’s also the Soviet-aligned Polish military that burned down houses and forced people to evacuate their homes in the forest (against their will) to escape the Plague. And to add insult onto injury, the military is studying the forest using underground tunnels, all the while ignoring the plight of anyone stuck inside. For Chaos, the forest has a dark eldritch ecosystem that is untamed and doesn’t like outsiders.
  • Breakable Weapons: Melee weapons degrade with use, and are disabled once they degrade completely, though they can also be repaired at a workbench for less than it costs to craft a new one. Armor similarly degrades when you take damage, and breaks once fully degraded. 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 face. If you look at them as well, your screen itself will shake while it is screaming.
  • Caltrops: Throwing an empty bottle at the ground will create broken glass, which in turn will harm enemies who step on them. The Protagonist is immune to them since unlike the hostile creatures in the forest he uses footwear.
  • Came from the Sky: Obscure tidbits of lore that can be found in-game mention a “bright light” that fell to the Earth from the sky during the night of August 1975. It’s all but stated that this was the origin of “The Being” who would go on to warp the Darkwood forest into its current setting, revealing the entire game was a Cosmic Horror Story all along.
  • Canine Companion: The Wolfman is watching over the Protagonist, albeit the Wolfman pushes the Protagonist to commit acts of violence that screws over people. Still, the Wolfman is benign towards the Protagonist when compared to most of the forest’s inhabitants, even calling you "Meat" and "comrade" at times, and his wares that he trades with you are useful. But if you don't fulfill the Wolfman’s quest to give him the “Key Covered in Chicken Feces” 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 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/or exposes him to increased dangers in compensation.
  • Claustrophobia: One particular nightmare plays on the fear of enclosed spaces. If you enter the cellar near the Talking Tree of the Swamp and dive into the water using a filled oxygen tank, the Protagonist hallucinates that he’s in an underground bunker. After receiving a torch, you enter an eerie narrow tunnel that has human corpses lying on the ground as you continue further, revealing the fate of the villagers who invaded and locked themselves in the food pantry within the Swamp. Once you reach the end of the narrow tunnel you can try to move back, but it’s cut off with the darkness encroaching 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 croaked.note  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, so while the Protagonist still has his marbles he’s no longer a normal human being and has his moments of heightened aggression.
  • Crapsack World: There’s no shortage of terrible and depressing things that happen in Darkwood.
  • Creepy Blue Eyes: The Protagonist has blue eyes that seem to glow slightly, which overlaps with Icy Blue Eyes. Whether they are natural or a result of the plague is unknown, but his blue eyes also represent his personality as revealed from entries in his journal.
  • Creepy Cathedral: You can find the ruins of a church within the Old Woods.note  One of the dream sequences you can experience after leveling up will place you at the Church Ruins. The Protagonist hallucinates seeing people lining up to walk down a flight of stairs to the basement within the building, then is assaulted by a “Black Chomper” who screams about its two daughters, a white dress and a red see-saw after you loot a locked “strange box” from a room that is unlocked with a lock pick. You end the dream by either running away after breaking a window in the room and escaping through the gate door outside, or kill the Black Chomper with an axe in the room and acquire its locket which has the code to open the basement doors.
    However, if the Black Chomper knocks your health down to zero and ended the dream this way, or you ran away successfully, you’ll later discover a man at the Church who is pissed at you and calls you a coward as well as a thief. It’s also revealed if the strange box is opened with the Wolfman’s help that it contained drawings made by children, featuring two young girls and the same red see-saw that the “Black Chomper” yelled about, and since the man only appears if you ran away or the Black Chomper killed you it heavily implies he was the “Black Chomper” all along; you were hallucinating while high on an acid trip that he was a monster instead of a human and that box you took contained mementos of his late daughters. This means if you had succeeded in killing the Black Chomper that in reality you weren’t dreaming and had stolen from as well as murdered an innocent man, his corpse at the church being the only evidence of your crime
  • Creepy Crows:
  • 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 it’s 8:00 you'll have survived the dangers of the night while the beautiful morning red light shines on the hideout.
  • Dangerous Windows: Enemies will jump through windows that aren’t barricaded to hunt you down, albeit the barricades won’t last long either.
  • Dark Fantasy: Several staples are in play like a supernatural plague inducing madness in people and eldritch-like creatures of varying nature wandering about. In a twist, they 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: Enemies become far more aggressive at night and the Floor Gore will hunt you down for failing to reach your hideout before 20:00 o’ clock. And if you have the "Shadows" negative perk, or have reached the Swamp Hideout, the darkness itself becomes a serious danger at nighttime.note 
  • The Dead Can Dance: Upon entering the Wedding building after entering the gate code,note  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 supernatural beings.
  • Deadly Gas:
    • Gas Bottles release a poisonous cloud that chokes enemies (and the Protagonist if he’s too close) to death. Furthermore, throwing a lit match or flare at the cloud will make it explode, dealing heavy damage to anyone nearby it.
    • The “Black Fog” night event creates a large black fog of poisonous gas in random spots of the hideout; only the Protagonist is hurt by it and the fog will push away any nearby furniture as a side effect.
    • Zig-Zagged regarding the gas produced at all hideouts. While the Protagonist thinks it smells awful, the gas is the reason why monsters won’t enter hideouts at daytime, hinting it may be too toxic for monsters to tolerate. Yet at nighttime many monsters can invade the hideout, the Floor Gore being the lone exception, though monsters are far more prevalent outside the hideout meaning the gas still repels them to a degree.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The prologue starts with the Doctor who happens upon a wounded stranger that is carrying a journal and strange key. 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 stranger — the true Protagonist — who frees himself and discovered the Doctor has stolen an important key as well as several pages from the Protagonist’s journal.
  • Developer's 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. This is likely because he wants nothing to do with the Floor Gore.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • Leveling Up. Although you gain useful skills and/or perks you have to obtain a mandatory negative perk with each new tier of perks unlocked. Some negative perks can be trivialized depending on your play style though (e.g. taking “Shaky Hands” on a play-through where you won’t use guns), plus overall the positive passives and skills 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 and loot themnote  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 Ruins in the Old Woods,hint  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 campsite 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.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: 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, soand the supernatural elements are pure nightmare fuel. This only gets worse once the sun starts to fade away and nighttime comes...
  • Duct Tape for Everything: Tape rolls are used in-game to build several different melee weapons and firearms, plus it’s necessary for the “Light Materials” melee weapon upgrade.
  • Duel to the Death: This can happen in the Sawmill of the Swamp if you refused to give the Wolfman the “Key Covered In Chicken Feces” and instead gave it to the Musician. The Wolfman spites you by stealing many items at your hideout and leaves a message telling you to come to the Sawmill if you want them back, which results in a duel if you accept. Unfortunately, the Wolfman doesn’t play fair and forces you to leave behind your equipment outside while making you use more basic weapons to fight him, one of which includes a Table Leg.
  • Eldritch Abomination: They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes in Darkwood.
    • In the epilogue, it’s revealed every eldritch being that roams the forest was created by “The Being,” an entity appearing as a bright light that beats like a heart. Many of the eldritch beings were crude copies of corpses found at ritual sites that were covered in roots (thus it’s implied The Being was inspired to create several of its creatures based on what it was observing from said sites), and there are countless “Sleepers” — people under the control of the Being — whom are found sleeping all over the roots. Until the Protagonist woke up he was one of them, and if he decided to fall asleep in his apartment he would remain one as well, likely to be reborn as another eldritch creation like the Mushroom Granny and the Trader.
  • Enter Solution Here: There are several locks on doors and chests that require entering a four digit pin to unlock. Most solutions are random; clues can be found by talking to people and/or finding them on lore items, yet there are exceptions like the two locked chests found at the Wolfman’s Silent Forest Campnote  and the locked stash bin at the Dry Meadow Hideout.note 
  • Fade to Black/Fade to White
    • If you are killed, the screen fades to black.
    • When the clock reaches 08:00, the night ends and the screen fades to white with a message saying what day you’re on now.
  • 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/passives 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 nightmare due to the drug conking him out. 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 when you revisit the Village.
  • 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.
    • There is an area on the border of the Dry Meadow called the Brook that has a generator within. If you activate it, you’ll see an unreachable room nearby with naked people squirming around on the ground, disappearing after a few seconds pass. This is foreshadowing the “Sleepers,” one of whom you’ll encounter later at the entrance to the Silent Forest.
    • After spending a few days in the Dry Meadow, 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 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.
    • At the end of the Silent Forest Entrance you can find a man titled as a “Sleeper.” Upon leaving him after investigating his body, the Sleeper starts talking and calls the Protagonist a friend, telling him to look under the floor tiles in the last hideout. He’s not talking about the Swamp Hideout, 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 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.
    • 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 “Burn Them All” 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; this makes him a Chekhov's Gunman when the Protagonist uses the flamethrower to incinerate “The Being” who was responsible for everything that happened to the forest.
  • Gardening-Variety Weapon: Most melee weapons in-game started off as simple gardening tools.
  • Guide Dang It!: The game warns you from the get-go that hand-holding will not be a thing, henceforth you have to find out much of the in-game mechanics, but there are also some cases that the game gives you misleading information which isn’t intentional.
    • Sprinting on pathways that are marked on your map uses far less stamina.
    • Shiny Stones lying on the ground will sparkle if any light source is cast upon it other than natural daylight (e.g. Torch).
    • The Homemade Shotgun claims in-game it is “useless after firing a shot,” but it can actually be fired twice before it cannot be used anymore, assuming any looted ones weren’t fired once before.
    • Upon eating Odd Meat or an Insect, you’ll gain a status effect called “Armor” that claims your skin is thicker. While having thick skin sounds like extra protection, in reality it makes you take fifty percent more damage than normal. This is not to be confused with the Cloth Armor or Sweater who also have a status effect called “Armor,” but uses a different icon to show that you will take less damage.
    • The “Careful Step” skill states that once a day you won’t trigger a trap you stepped on, but in reality you’ll still trigger the trap, it just won’t damage you or inflict negative status effects.
  • Hanlon's Razor: Many bad events happen because people have been driven to their wits end about how to stop a plague that drives people and the wildlife mad.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: Given the Crapsack World that the forest has devolved into, there’s quite a few harsh lessons to be learned about survival and working/bargaining with unfamiliar people.
  • Harmony Versus Discipline: The forest represents Harmony as a location of great and untamed wilderness that has flourished due to eldritch-like conditions. The forest acts like it has a will of its own because it’s controlled by an Eldritch Abomination that you can choose to follow or try to kill in the epilogue, but it acts indifferent towards outsiders as long as they do not stay in the forest at night (though the creatures during the day are still territorial). The Protagonist represents Discipline as a hardened survivor who isn’t native to the forest, thus he has to deal with its dark and mysterious eco-system that contains several natural dangers as well as mutated abominations that are either hostile or neutral towards him. He has an unknown goal, but its clear he sees the forest as a major obstacle of sorts as he continues to search for the “Road to Home” and later can discover it’s a Lotus-Eater Machine designed to ensnare him. He can choose to burn the forest down and spare others from suffering the same fate he did, albeit it will also endanger everyone living in the forest who cannot escape in time.
  • Hated by All: Everyone in the forest (except the Musician) hates the Doctor because they believe he is 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.
  • Hazardous Water: In the Swamp, water serves as both a movement hazard and obscures the presence of the crocodile-like Swampers. While in the water, the Protagonist moves at half speed and consumes stamina twice as fast while sprinting. The Swampers, meanwhile, move much faster in the water and can only be detected by water disturbance a few moments before they strike. On the plus side, however, all other enemies are slower than the Protagonist in water, making it a useful way to hobble the tougher enemies.
  • 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.
  • 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 plague-related food he finds (e.g. "odd meat" which may or may not have come from former humans). After cooking the plague-infected food into a serum, the Protagonist injects himself with it and gains various abilities — both good and bad.
    Originally this was played straight. There was a gameplay mechanic during the night wherein you’d be stricken with a dangerous debuff called “The Thirst,” which would kill players if they could not reach the hideout’s well outside and drink from it, though it was removed later.
  • Horrifying the Horror: Upon unlocking the “Scream” ability the Protagonist 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 characters you meet are clearly mutated due to 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.
  • I'm a Humanitarian:
    • Zig-Zagged with one particular food item the Protagonist can cook and distill into a serum: Odd Meat. It comes from monsters that are hinted to have formerly been humans, though it’s debatable if cooking and turning said meat into an injectable serum is the same as cannibalism. The Protagonist can also 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 improvised or handyman tools, yet the Protagonist uses whatever he can get.
  • Improvisational Ingenuity: The Protagonist is a rather skilled handyman, able to craft several pieces of survival equipment and items using whatever junk and gear he can get his hands on. This is further reflected by the fact that “upgrading” his workbench is simply finding new tools and materials to help him build these creations.
  • Improvised Armour: The Light Armor is made of a shell from a giant bug and whatever scraps of cloth the Protagonist can get his hands on.
  • Infernal Retaliation: Enemies will continue to fight you even if they’re set on fire. The Talking Tree will also make your next night a living hell if you set it on fire, sending the bodies that made up its composition to kill you while they’re lit ablaze.
  • 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. The materials necessary to build the firearm can be found as early as the Silent Woods, and before you acquire the firearm you can stock up on shotgun shells from the morning trader with ease since they're cheap to barter for. It’s a reliable choice for firepower with ammunition that is plentiful, 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 even when fired from a distance, reasonable magazine size (twenty rounds), and it’s fired in controlled bursts for ease of use, making it the most versatile firearm for any situation. It can even be obtained early by murdering the Wolfman. The problem holding this firearm back is that the ammunition for it — Medium Caliber Magazines — cannot be bartered for and are rare loot. Players doing a speed run play-through will 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.
    • The Pump Action Shotgun, which requires a max level workbench and a variety of expensive/rare parts to build. It packs a serious amount of firepower and doesn’t run dry of ammo quickly, making it useful in a game where most monsters love getting in your face, but you’ll have to explore many exotic and dangerous places in the Swamp in order to acquire the materials necessary to upgrade the workbench. By the time you acquire them all you’ll have explored a great deal of the final area, limiting the amount of instances where this firearm will be of use.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Zig-zagged. Many people who still have their marbles tend to be constantly irritated and willing to assault you for minor grievances, hinting they’re beginning the early stages of the Plague that results in increased aggression, whereas the Savages during the day are territorial and will at least warn you to stay away. Meanwhile anyone who has gone mad will be too preoccupied with drawing lines in the ground, hearing voices coming from the trees, and eventually walking into the dense forest where they’ll never be seen again. But come nighttime, almost everything that walks and breathes in the forest becomes far more aggressive and willing to rip you apart on sight.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: Time 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).
  • Invading Refugees: If you slaughter the Sow belonging to the Villagers of the Silent Forest they will break through countless trees to try and find food, which leads to them being a major threat to the Mushroom Granny.
  • 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 loot.note  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.
  • Invincible Boogeyman: The Floor Gore cannot be killed, nor slowed down, and will hunt down the Protagonist if he isn’t at his hideout by nightfall — the only place the Floor Gore cannot invade.
  • 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 is a cold and calculating person as revealed by his thoughts recorded in his journal, plus many of his first conversation choices you can choose when talking to someone hint that he doesn’t care about others if they don’t seem useful to him. That being said, he does has a soft spot for Piotrek and considers helping him achieve his goal of building a rocket, plus continual interactions with the Musician will lead to the Protagonist becoming more aware of the boy’s condition and can make choices to help him.
    • The Doctor became sour towards everyone due to the Villagers blaming him for their suffering after he couldn’t find a way to end the Plague using his medical research.
    • The Wolfman thrives on making other people’s lives miserable, but he seems to avert this with the Protagonist, treating him like a genuine comrade and giving him valuable rewards for completing the Wolfman’s quests. It’s later revealed that the Wolfman simply wants the Protagonist to get out of what the Wolfman considers “his forest,” but decided it was more pragmatic to first promise valuable rewards to the Protagonist as a way to get him to accomplish the Wolfman’s goals beforehand.
    • The majority of the Villagers from the Silent Forest only look after themselves, refusing to even associate with the Protagonist openly, and will take brutal measures to ensure they don’t fall victim to the Plague as the Chicken Lady reveals with the story of Hanuska.note 
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The Wolfman’s desire to ruin the Villagers by having their precious remaining sow executed — all because they treated him poorly — may be extreme, but he is right when he calls them out on their poor character and “many secrets.”
  • Joke Weapon: The Table Leg, whose only selling point is its high durability. Whenever you receive it, expect to be stuck in a vicious fight that is lopsided against you.
  • Jump Scare: Zig Zagged. The developers considered jump scares to be “cheap horror tricks,” instead using basic environmental sounds as well as key sound cues 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 right into dangerous monsters and be caught off guard.
  • Kafka Komedy: You can help people, but do not expect them to return the favor or treat you well. In fact, some of the dark humor in this game occurs because you helped someone.
  • Karl Marx Hates Your Guts: The “prices” in-game do not change, tend to be rather high, and you always exchange for less — which makes it difficult to build a surplus of credit known as “Reputation.” But depending on how dangerous the area your hideout is located, the merchant(s) of the area will grant you freebie Reputation if you prove your survivor mettle by surviving the night, all in order to help you acquire more products to help you survive. Yet even if you manage to build up a surplus of Reputation there isn’t many items to exchange for.note 
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • One of the more effective ways to kill monsters is setting them on fire, plus it’s the only way to clear patches of worm infestations. Hurling a Molotov Cocktail at them usually does the trick and you can also set up a trap with a puddle of gasoline to set up a temporary wall of fire.
    • You can choose to burn the Talking Tree in the Swamp. 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 and it will personally thank the Protagonist for sparing it.
    • In the epilogue, you can burn “The Being” 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 perished in the fire, but the forest is open to the world once again with its madness having come to an end.
  • Knockout Gas: One particular trap involves using gas to capture the Protagonist in the Train Wreck of the Old Woods, curtesy of the Doctor who was unknowingly tipped off by the Musician (unaware of the animosity between the two men) if the Protagonist chose to give the boy the “Key Covered in Chicken Feces.”
  • Last-Second Ending Choice: Due to the nature of the game, you are a nobody whose actions do not affect the world as a whole, and you will suffer for trying to make it a better place. You can do whatever you want with few repercussions against you, but others can do the same and often will. Trying to help people will usually end in failure while making people hate you more, or continue to hate you even if you succeeded, and you have little control over your circumstances other than reaching the end of your journey. Naturally, most of the ending choices are bleak, last minute, and makes everything grand you tried to do seem rather pointless upon reaching the end.
    The “Burn Them All” ending, however, completely flips the script, giving you the option to make a serious impact on the world. Choosing to torch “The Being” with a flamethrower instead of embrace it will burn up the entire forest, ending the dark eldritch eco-system. Unfortunately, making an impact on the world comes at a large cost: the Protagonist’s life as well as those who could not escape the inferno. Whether you think it’s worth it to show the world you can make a difference is up to you.
  • Late to the Tragedy: Whatever caused the forest to warp into its current form happened many years before the Protagonist arrived as items like old newspapers reveal.
  • Light Is Good: Light is an important recurring theme throughout the game, especially since Darkness Equals Death in many different parts.
    • At daytime, it’s important to have a light source for seeing better in dark places that may hide dangerous creatures. This also helps reveal shiny stones on the ground which shimmer when the Protagonist aims a light source at them (e.g. lantern).
    • At nighttime, light from the lamps, floodlights, and various items like flares are the only way to see anything not right up in your face. Turning the lights off to hide is pointless because the creatures of the forest can detect you regardless, especially if you start moving around. You'll need to keep your generator topped off with gasoline daily to power the lamps and fixed floodlights during the night, but 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 removed 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.
  • Living Shadow: The Shadows, wraith-like beings who invade the Protagonist’s hideout only during a common night event that damage him upon touch. They appear once you unlock your first upgrade as well as reach the Swamp, knock out most lampsnote  plus all the floodlights, and snuff out all torches as well as lanterns. The only way to dissipate them is by using lit flares as well as aiming a flashlight at them, or by camping near any lamp that still works and is turned on.
  • The Lost Woods: Everything takes place in a secluded Polish forest. Things... aren't going well.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Downplayed. In the “Apartment” Dream, you take control of an unknown man who is enjoying a normal life inside a regular apartment room, a complete contrast with the horrors of the forest you’ve dealt with up to that point. But eventually the lights turns off and someone starts knocking on the front door, and when you open the door the Protagonist is there, which then ends the dream. The Epilogue reveals that man you played as is the true appearance of the Protagonist before he was infected by the Plague. It’s also played straight if you discover the seemingly normal apartment block the Protagonist reaches in the Epilogue is one of these, created by an Eldritch Abomination known as “The Being” that has entrapped many people called “Sleepers” within its lair. The Protagonist himself was one of them until he woke up.
  • 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 music to showcase it’s begun. On the plus side, the dogs don’t like Savages 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.
  • Madden Into Misanthropy: Deconstructed with the Doctor. He gets fed up with the Villagers because he cannot find a cure for the Plague, which leads to him unleashing his rage upon the Protagonist when they first met and beating him senseless when he wouldn’t reveal the exit to outside the forest (or rather he couldn’t because he can’t talk in his current state). Unfortunately, after choosing to steal the Protagonist’s key he begins hunting down the Doctor, who discovers that stealing from a hardened survivor who is hellbent on taking back his stolen property and getting even with his perpetrator wasn’t worth the ego-boosting trip.
    But when the Protagonist re-confronts the Doctor once more in the Old Woods and has him cornered, he pleaded his case and revealed that all he desperately wanted was to go home — the same motive driving the Protagonist to escape the forest. As a result, the Protagonist’s first dialogue choice (which hints what his true feelings on the matter are) is to help the Doctor, despite everything he did to the Protagonist. This meant that had the Doctor been nicer and struck a deal with the Protagonist from the get-go that he would’ve likely agreed to help the Doctor; his Jerkass behavior only made the situation worse for him even if it made him feel better at first.
  • Matchstick Weapon: Torches can be crafted/looted and swung as a makeshift weapon, but it deals low damage and decreases the amount of time left before the torch burns out every time you hit something. Therefore it should only be used as a weapon if you have nothing else left.
  • 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 hide in mushroom clusters, rushing you and blowing up if they get close to you while laughing.
    • The gas clouds produced from Gas Bottles will explode if you light it up with fire, such as a flare or match.
    • Gas Tanks will be propelled a short distance and explode if hit with a melee weapon. Also, shooting a Gas Tank will detonate them immediately as well as setting them on fire. There are also Exploding Barrels who detonate upon being hit by anything.
  • Meaningful Echo: “I want to go home.” The Protagonist’s ultimate goal is to return to his home where his loved one and his loyal dog await him.note  The Doctor wants to go home as well, who has family waiting for him outside the forest. It’s perhaps for this reason why the Protagonist becomes reluctant to murder the Doctor for revenge upon confronting him once more in the Old Woods, having learned their goals are the same.
  • Meat Moss: Many areas in the Swamp are covered with strange eldritch-like biomass, some even sprouting giant eyeballs that watch you from a distance.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Savages don't get along with Dogs or Huge Dogs and will fight each other in the wild. Taken further with the "Full Moon" night event if it occurs in an area replete with Savages, resulting in skirmishes around your entire hideout. Unfortunately, you can get caught up in the fights as well.
  • Mercy Kill: Euthanasia is a commonly explored theme throughout the game, and some of the biggest choices you make involve whether to do the deed with beings afflicted by the Plague. Unfortunately for you, the game loves to deconstruct this concept even if you meant the best.
    • In the prologue, the Doctor’s pet dog is suffering from an unknown disease, whimpering as you walk by. If you choose not to kill the dog using an axe, the dog mutates into a Huge Dog, who will attack the Protagonist later on in Chapter One when he revisits the Doctor’s House if he wanders too close.
    • If you use the “Key Covered In Chicken Feces” to unlock the metal door in the Chicken Lady’s House, you can interact with the Pretty Lady by pulling off her blanket, revealing that she’s turned grotesque and begs the Protagonist to return her blanket. It’s apparent she is suffering from the Plague, and you can choose to euthanize her instead of giving the key to the Wolfman or the Musician. If you choose to euthanize her, the Chicken Lady will become hysterical and depressed because she lost her last family member, the Musician will become afraid of you once you reveal the bloodied clothing of the Pretty Lady because he realizes you were the culprit, and the Wolfman will be pissed at you since he wanted the Pretty Lady for himself but you took her from him instead. Considering you executed a woman who never indicated she wanted to die despite her suffering, you murdered an innocent woman, and the game isn’t shy about shoving the consequences of “playing god” with those who wanted to live.
      If you don’t euthanize her, either her condition eventually devolves to the point that she becomes a murderous cannibal, or she was that way all along and managed to fool you (albeit the Protagonist had no interest in freeing her); this is revealed if you choose the “Bliss” ending. The Pretty Lady goes on to murder different NPCs depending on who is still alive, but this fate can be averted if you give the Wolfman the key. However, there’s no guarantee she had gone mad by that point and you’re still helping a dangerous individual reach her. Or you can choose the “Burn Them All” ending and she’ll get torched if she’s left alive and the Wolfman doesn’t get the key. In short, no matter what you do, something bad will happen.
    • There is a building that once served as a make-shift hospital you can visit when you revisit the area where the Doctor’s House is that has a person who claims his head is splitting apart. Upon further review, it’s clear that he’s showing signs of the Plague, and he begs you to kill him in order to end the pain. If you obey him, nothing of note happens to you, because there is no one around to judge you other than yourself. If you refuse and let him live, his fate remains unknown, but it’s likely he’ll transform into a Red Chomper because “splitting apart” in various parts of the body is how they’re formed. This makes it debatable if you’re really giving him a merciful death or if he’ll even remember being human once he transforms, and if this is really a Fate Worse than Death or not since he’ll still live on as an Eldritch Abomination under the collective of “The Being,” whose goals remain unknown and incomprehensible.
    • In the epilogue, this is zig-zagged with the burning of “The Being” in the “Burn Them All” Ending. You get to free all the Sleepers who were trapped in a Locus Eater Machine devised by the Being to keep them under its control... by setting them all on fire and also threatens several NPCs in the forest above you as the inferno continues to spread. This does end the plight of those who were stuck in the forest that managed to escape, but threatening everyone with the dangers of being burnt alive or suffocating to death — even if unintentional — still wanders rather murky waters in terms of morality. Whether or not you decide its worth the cost to end the Being’s plot is up to you, but even then there’s no guarantee you killed the Being since it could’ve instead been forced away from that location and you’re just delaying the inevitable.
  • 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: They 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.
  • Mooks, but no Bosses: There are no bosses, but the mooks are dangerous enough that sometimes its better to avoid confronting them.
  • 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.
  • Nameless Narrative: Befitting the game's dark fairy tale nature, most major characters are only ever known by their titles - The Protagonist, Wolfman, Doctor, Mushroom Granny, Musician, Pretty Lady... The only characters who averted this are Piotrek, the Child (whose name is Marcinek) and Maciek.
  • 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), 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: Daytime is easier to survive since several monsters aren’t as aggressive and won’t approach your hideout, whereas at nighttime monsters can invade it with impunity. Furthermore, straying too far from your hideout at night is suicide since an ultra-aggressive dark mass called the Floor Gore pursues and kills any non-natives of the forest that aren't near 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 Party Like a Donner Party:
    • In the Village, you can break into a warehouse that has several brick ovens inside, and 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, and he has access to human corpses, 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. 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, the next night... nothing. Nothing except the hideout creaking and the noises. And some of the nightmares the Protagonist suffers if he dopes himself on too much “essence” cooked at the ovens won’t be any better either.
  • Notice This: The Protagonist’s journal entries record anything that is important story-wise, but other than listening closely to what the locals tell you there’s no other special tip offs.
  • Ominous Knocking: One night event involves someone knocking at the front door of the hideout which gets 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 that leaves behind an invitation envelope which 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.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: Many dream sequences have a hidden goal, and in some cases completing it will grant you an item in your inventory when you wake up, but nothing is revealed how you received the item which hints there might be a force blurring the line between dream and reality in the forest.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Zig-zagged with Hanuska, whose child is “alive” if you consider a mutated abomination who is more monster than human at that point as being alive. Though you will encounter the creature in the well and have to defend yourself against it if you want to obtain the “Key Covered in Chicken Feces,” likely ending its life in the process and playing this straight.
  • Parasite Zombie: The Centipedes of the Swamp are giant mutated bugs that take over a human corpse by replacing the corpse’s head with their top portion plus one of the arms with their bottom. They will attack the Protagonist if he wanders near a hole with a centipede burrowed inside,note  or randomly as part of a night event where it burrows from underneath the Protagonist to ambush him. They are one of the few enemies in-game with a ranged attack, slinging rocks from a considerable distance in a spray pattern, and are fast as well as willing to tackle the Protagonist, making it difficult to escape their wrath. Fortunately, despite their speed and range of attacks they’re rather fragile.
  • Perpetual Storm: The Great Lake in the Swamp is afflicted by a strange storm that only affects that area in particular. 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 high tier loot is located in the area as well.note  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 some items they carry seem like junk 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.
  • The Plague: A mysterious plague is responsible for the forest’s rapid growth as well as warping the wildlife into violent abominations. It’s due to the mechanizations of an Eldritch Abomination known as “The Being,” who is spreading its influence throughout the forest for unknown reasons.
  • Point of No Return: Upon reaching the entrance that leads to the Swamp, the Protagonist realizes this is a one way trip, therefore you must plan which items to bring and leave. If you spared the Doctor in your second encounter, and agree to accompany him to the Underground Entrance, he will give an early warning to the Protagonist that the entrance is a one-way trip.
  • 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 credit that must be earned with every merchant you find.note  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 have to ignore the condition of the items other than how much utility they can get out of them, also granting Reputation to people who can survive a day in the forest to help them survive long enough to loot the forest for more tradeable goodies.
  • 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.
    • The game also explores the fear of not being safe within your own home. Homes and shelters are supposed to provide comfort and safety, protecting oneself from the dangers of the outside world, whereas 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.
  • Protect This House: The basic premise of nighttime is defending yourself from monsters that can now invade your hideout until the morning sun rises, making use of whatever barricades and traps you set up as well as gear you crafted to keep yourself alive.
  • Punch-Packing Pistol: The Single Shot Pistol, a handgun that deals far more damage than a normal pistol would in one shot.note  It can only be fired once, but it can be crafted as early as a level three workbench and requires commonplace items to make.
  • Real Is Brown: The majority of the game’s areas feature a heavy amount of brown-tinted coloration, becoming more prominent once you enter the Silent Forest and beyond. But even the more vibrant green coloration of the starting area, the Dry Meadow, has its places where darker browns and black is the norm, hinting to the cold-hearted true nature of the world and what to expect as time goes on.
  • 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. You’ll also have to decide whether to invest more resources into fortifying your hideout for night invasions and hostile random events, craft more gear/items that will help you survive your outdoor treks, or walk a thin line between both.
  • Resurrective Immortality: On normal mode the Protagonist revives and wakes up in his current hideout whenever he dies. In the epilogue, this is played straight if you choose the “Bliss Ending” or accept The Being’s offer to return to sleep, though what you’ll resurrect as may change if people like the Mushroom Granny are any indication of The Being’s power to reincarnate new life.
  • 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.
    • The nature of the monsters and Savages is revealed more as time goes on, but one particular area sheds more nuanced details on the matter. Specifically speaking it’s if you complete the dream that the Protagonist goes through in the basement of the Radio Tower at the Swamp. 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, plus there are several dead bodies wrapped to trees.
      Many notes make reference of a “clear substance” that flows under the forest like wires, connected to the “trees” that make up the sudden vegetation growth the forest underwent at August 1975 when the trees started to grow en masse. Several times the Protagonist and the Doctor in the prologue find strange ritual sites containing depictions of the monsters seen throughout the game, like a dead man covered in roots with dead birds surrounding it at the Radio Tower where you found the Banshees, hinting that may have been the site where the humanoid birds were first created. One key factor is that all these sites have a dead body covered in roots, connected to the “clear substance” that flows throughout the forest.
      This is hinted to be how “The Being” is creating all the monsters as well as strange eldritch beings who wander the forest and/or are stuck in certain areas. For whatever reason, the Being strives towards creation and does its best to lure people into obeying its will, many of whom turn into Savages that obey the Being’s will. It’s also hinted many of the eldritch beings are replicas of former humans, specifically the Mushroom Granny.note  The game does not give all the details, but its clear the Being is pulling the strings behind every eldritch being you encountered in Darkwood
  • 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 like shiny stones are without function and are only collected to barter Reputation with the traders.note 
  • 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 barter for 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: A shovel can be used in-game as a weapon; 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 prime 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 Dogs when fired. As for the Homemade Shotgun it’s practically a Double Barrel Shotgun. The only weakness for both homemade firearms is they are not reloadable, but the objects they’re made of are bartered for cheap with the merchants and can be crafted at early workbench levels.
    • Gas Bottles. While it’s made using mushrooms and odd meat that you let spoil on purpose — which can delay leveling up if you’re not worried about the negative drawbacks — they’re one of the most versatile thrown weapons and made with commonplace items. The initial gas cloud poisons enemies and if you throw a lit match or flare at the gas it will explode, dealing heavy damage. Next, the gas itself won’t damage your hideout, making it safe to use against swarms of enemies like Banshee Babies. Finally, the gas can seep past windows/walls, allowing you to harm enemies trying to break into your hideout.
    • Flares. Besides illuminating the dark with a bright light, it can also ignite gasoline puddles as well as gas clouds from a safe distance, plus it will still work even if a Banshee screams at you or “The Shadows” night event triggers. It’s worth holding on to a few at nighttime to ensure you’re safe from the Shadows as well as giving you the opportunity to fight monsters in the dark with a proper weapon.
  • Sinister Scythe: A sickle can be wielded as a weapon. Its primary attack sweeps twice, but cannot interrupt enemy actions, so it’s a difficult weapon to use. Surprisingly, it’s useful for tearing down barricades due to its high durability.
  • The Sleepless: The Protagonist doesn’t need sleep to function well due to his mutated body no longer requiring it, a useful 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 can inject into himself to level up can make him go to sleep on occasion; it never turns out well.
  • Sniper Rifle: The Hunting Rifle, which has the longest range of all firearms and deals high amounts of damage, but tunnel-visions your sight while aiming as a drawback.
  • 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: Regarding the apartment, you can figure out while exploring it during the epilogue that it’s a Lotus-Eater Machine if you pursue enough hints throughout the area. The main tipoff that the Protagonist is stuck in one 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 extend how long he can sprint.
  • Story Breadcrumbs: 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 items, talking to the residents (sane or not), and exploring the environment for clues.
  • Super Serum: You can 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 or skill with occasionally one mandatory drawback upon reaching a new tier of perks, though the drug sometimes puts the Protagonist to sleep; the dreams never end well.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • If you help Piotrek complete his rocket, it will fly for a short while, but crash land in the junkyard area of the Swamp, leading to his death. No matter how tech savvy he was, a rocket made of spare parts from tractors and other miscellaneous machinery could only do so much, even in a world where the supernatural exists.
    • Killing a Centipede while standing in a body of water will cause the mutated insect to drown instead of burrow to safety. Even if the plague mutated it into a stronger and bigger form, it’s still not strong enough to detach from its human corpse host quickly enough to avoid drowning, plus the corpse would add to the weight. Red Chompers will similarly drown if damaged enough to cause them to detach from their lower half, as they can't lift their heads high enough.
    • If you pursue the “Genocide” route, murdering every NPC before the epilogue, the Protagonist will immediately cease committing any violence once he exits the forest and reaches his apartment in the city, believing he’s now back in normal civilization and therefore has no reason to attack anything. Once he’s outside the forest he won’t turn into a crazed murderous psycho, won’t even think of harming anyone in the city, and even attacking people in the forest can be interpreted as him putting already crazy victims of the plague out of their misery before they turned into monsters. No matter what you do, he had his own goals; you simply helped him accomplish it and nothing more. So if you were expecting a “Protagonist goes crazy and murders everyone around him” kind of ending like in many other Survival Horror games, then you weren’t paying close attention to how the story was told through his recorded thoughts and perspective.
  • Surreal Horror: The entire game is flush with examples, many of them being the eldritch variety.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity:
    • For a game that warns it won’t be easy, you start off 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 more valuable loot. Altogether, you can have a torch, a healing bandage, 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 almost enough mushrooms to get your first level up at the oven before you set out to explore the world (and it’s not too difficult finding another mushroom growth that same day). 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 activates one of the deadliest night events — “The Shadows” — for the rest of the game.
    • Upon reaching the Old Woods Hideout, you can find two useful stashes of loot: a welder and several flares. If you collected enough toolboxes to upgrade your bench to level four by that point, the welder will allow you to reach level five and craft a powerful Single Shot Shotgun, plus you have several flares to help out with the dark. The reason is because you will now fight Red Chompers as a regular enemy at both day and night, plus there’s only one portable lamp in the hideout which means “The Shadows” night event will knock out all the lights, hence the flares you received. There’s also the fact that Banshees visit far more frequently here at night, who have no problems knocking out the lights and leaving you vulnerable to the Shadows.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: While the Protagonist hasn’t gone completely insane, the symptoms of the plague do show from time to time with how he reacts to the world. For instance, what he sees (or whatever you aim your vision cone at) can oftentimes contrast with the environment around him, making it difficult to tell sometimes what is real and what is the Protagonist’s delusions.
  • 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 Protagonist is a soldier or at least has close ties with the group.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The Villagers within the Silent Forest have kept themselves alive by eating pigs from their last remaining sow, which they fed with plague-infected food and later revealed to be human corpses that were plague-infected since they had nothing else. As a result, while the Sow does give birth regularly to pigs, it has mutated into a giant abomination that is constantly squealing in pain and can only be fed while it’s being electrocuted. At some point, someone cut the cord from a generator that electrocuted the pig, causing it to lash out and kill its caretaker, leaving the Villagers unable to get more meat from pigs and thus are starving.
    One of the biggest decisions you can make in the game is kill the Sow like the Wolfman and Hanuska asks of you with the Wolfman promising a reward for “punishing the Villagers,” fix the cable to spare the Villagers who will continue to treat you poorly regardless, or ignore the situation entirely and not get caught up in the local politics. Whatever the case, the Villagers will be aware of your decision.
  • 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 then the Wolfman will ask for one of the parts. 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 and removing the floor tiles leading to the bedroom, then 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 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.
  • Transhuman Abomination:
    • Zig-Zagged with Savages, humans whose minds have devolved to a primal state due to the Plague. They put mud and sticks on their head, invoking the appearance of a mutated creature, but are fascinated with eating wood from the trees which is revealed by lore items to be a wood-like substance instead since most of the “trees” in the forest are copies of regular trees. They’re connected to “The Being” nonetheless, which could explain their primal behavior.
    • The Protagonist is stated by several people to look like a monster of sorts, showcasing advanced symptoms of the Plague. He can also 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.
    • Hanuska’s child was infected by the Plague upon birth, and when rediscovered in the Silent Village’s well you’ll find it has become an infant Red Chomper, confirming they are former humans who mutated differently from the Savages.
  • 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.
  • Trauma Conga Line:
    • Hanuska from the Silent Village had to first live with the reality that her family was trapped in the forest after trees suddenly grew large one day, eventually leading to them being isolated from the outside world (which also wasn’t a great place because it was communist-controlled Poland in 1975). Then a mysterious plague started to spread in the forest that mutated wildlife into horrific monsters and turns humans insane if not into a monster. Then she gave birth to a child that showed immediate signs of plague infection, which resulted in the Villagers panicking and throwing her baby down a well. Then they decided to take no chances and set her house on fire, where her husband burned to death. Then the Villagers ignored her afterwards, leaving her in the burnt ruins of her house where she finally snapped from all the misfortune she suffered.
    • The Protagonist suffers a nasty case of this throughout the game as more clues are revealed about his past and how he ended up in the forest in the first place. And depending on your choices, his suffering can continue to pile up, which takes a huge toll on his mental health.
  • 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.
  • Undead Abomination: The Human Spiders, a giant mass of human corpses who wander around the Swamp using their multiple limbs and attack the Protagonist on sight. They’re fragile but fast, able to close the gap on the Protagonist if he tries to run while looking away from the abominations and can spawn new ones with reduced health if they throw a severed torso at the ground.note  They’re also one of the few enemies in game to have a ranged attack, ripping off one of their limbs and throwing it at the Protagonist.
  • 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 to new hideouts. 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. And 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 (if they’re even still alive).
  • 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 It Rains, It Pours: Thunderstorms can happen from time to time, raining torrentially along with occasional thunder, which makes it harder to hear sound cues from the environment. It also gets darker outside, making it easier for enemies to ambush you, and storms last for a considerable amount of time — sometimes lasting long enough to continue through nightfall.
  • 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, and 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 endings have a paragraph of text for each of the major NPCs you met and what happened to them in the aftermath of your choices.