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Video Game / Skinwalker

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The opening lines of the game.
Skinwalker is a freeware Psychological Horror game made in RPG Maker by Snow Owl. It tells the story of four friends who go camping in the woods one weekend, only to have a horrifying encounter with a mysterious creature there.

The game was originally released on March 13th, 2013, and can be downloaded here

Not to be confused with the trope Skinwalker (though this game does feature an example of this trope).

Contains examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Downplayed. Darren, Joe and Michael are all very common names, while Celeste is somewhat less common.
  • Antagonist Title: Take a big guess.
  • Ax-Crazy: Joe turns out to be in one of the bad endings, having shot to death his friends due to believing they never fully appreciated him and thought they were better than him. It's possible the skinwalker influenced him to act this way.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Celeste seems like a pretty decent person. But if a Humanoid Abomination messes with her friends, she will not hesitate to shoot it repeatedly with a shotgun.
    • Joe as well, though depending on your choices. He threatens Celeste with a knife if he thinks she's an imposter and in one ending he apparently snapped and murdered his friends.
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  • Big Bad: The titular Skinwalker terrorizing Joe and his friends. Possibly Joe himself in one of the bad endings where he kills all of his friends, though he could have been influenced by the skinwalker.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The good ending. All of the characters manage to escape and defeat the skinwalker, but Michael and Joe (and possibly Celeste and Darren) are traumatized from the encounter.
  • Black Dude Dies First: In one of the bad endings, Michael is potentially the first of the group to be found shot to death. Averted in the other endings.
  • Cassandra Truth: No one initially believes Joe about seeing a thing that looks like Celeste but isn’t walking beside him.
  • Childhood Friend: Joe and Celeste have known each other since they were seven.
  • Closed Circle: The group inexplicably can't find their car once they reach Darren’s cabin, leaving them stuck in the woods.
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  • Darkness Equals Death: The really weird stuff starts happening after sundown and much of the main story takes place at night.
  • Deer in the Headlights: Joe has a habit of freezing up when he encounters something scary or threatening.
  • Distressed Dude: In the good ending, Joe nearly gets got by the skinwalker twice and is saved by Celeste.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: The setting of the game is an eerie, fog-shrouded forest. It's creepy enough on its own without the skinwalkers...
  • Doppelgänger: The skinwalker can make itself look like other people and do so repeatedly throughout the game. Upon seeing the skinwalker trying to take his form, Joe explicitly mentions having heard of doppelgangers...and that he also heard that if you see yours, you'll die shortly.
  • Downer Ending:
    • The first bad ending, combined with Ambiguous Ending. At Joe’s urging, Darren shoots the thing hammering on the cabin door to protect them. However, it turns out he unknowingly shot Joe…the Joe in the cabin is actually the skinwalker.
    • The second bad ending, which has everyone but Joe winding up dead…and it turns out Joe shot them after having some kind of breakdown and there may not even be a skinwalker at all...maybe.
  • The Everyman: Joe, which he lampshades. It actually becomes something of a plot point, especially in the second bad ending, as it's implied Joe secretly feels quite insecure about his apparent average-ness and may even resent his friends due to their perceived superiority.
  • Everybody Lives: In the good ending, all four friends make it out alive.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: In one of the bad endings, Joe decides not to go outside the cabin...only to find someone has murdered all of his friends with Darren's shotgun. And then he remembers...he was the one who shot them.
  • Evil Laugh: The group is woken by a creepy sounding laugh outside their tent.
  • Foreshadowing: The first time Joe encounters the skinwalker, he initially mistakes it for Michael standing in the shadows, foreshadowing its shape-changing abilities.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The four protagonists:
    • Sanguine: Michael. He's outgoing and assertive, but also inadvertently pushy and insensitive.
    • Choleric: Darren. He's impulsive and bold, but also reckless and quick to anger, especially when things don't go his way.
    • Melancholic: Joe. He is quiet, helpful to others and observant, but can also be a bit of a doormat, tends to imagine the worst and is implied to be rather insecure.
    • Phlegmatic: Celeste. She is friendly and analytical, but becomes nervous easily and starts to crack under pressure, though she has a hidden steeliness as well.
  • Genre Savvy: The moment they start hearing weird sounds outside the tent and find a dead animal dumped there, the group immediately books it for Darren's cabin to be safe.
  • Hell Is That Noise: A strange metallic, droning sound the group hears in the woods. Joe immediately says the first time he hears it that it's not a sound you would normally hear in the woods. Overlaps with Brown Note, as the sound causes Joe's head to ache when he first hears it. Later, while the friends are in the cabin, they hear even more weird sounds - a high-pitched ringing and crackling, and what seems to be muffled voices - which causes the friends to keel over, feeling violently unwell.
    Markiplier (in his playthrough): "It's a cacophony of nightmares".
  • The Hero Dies: In one bad ending, the skinwalker tricks Darren into killing Joe.
  • Heroic BSoD: In the good ending Michael goes into one, sitting staring into space. He remains rather distant afterwards, loses weight and insists the incident never happened. It's unknown if he ever truly recovers.
  • Horrible Camping Trip: Unless being stalked by a clearly malevolent shapeshifting creature is your idea of a fun camping trip. In one ending, Joe even states that the one thing he's certain of is "I'm never going camping again".
  • Hot-Blooded: Darren is said to be very impulsive, enthusiastic and bit short-tempered; he’s also usually the one who takes charge in the group.
  • I Just Want to Be You!: The skinwalker tells Joe it wants to be him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Michael can be inadvertently rude and pushy at times, but isn't really a bad person. Joe himself states that Michael doesn't even seem to realise how he acts towards others.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Celeste spends a lot of the game freaking out and hyperventilating. However, in the good end, she's the one who kills the skinwalker, shooting it repeatedly with a shotgun.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: Averted, for once. The group insists on checking out the weird sounds outside the tent together.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: One of the bad endings throws around the possibility there is no skinwalker, with a deranged Joe imagining it all. Then again, with the skinwalker’s face appearing in the background and all of the weird events, as well as taking into account the other endings, it’s possible Joe was being influenced by the skinwalker to do what he did.
  • Meaningful Background Event: It's easy to miss, but if one looks carefully during the cutscene where the protagonists are walking through the forest back to the cabin, you can briefly see the skinwalker following them through the trees on the right side.
  • Meaningful Name: Joe lampshades this; he's very an 'average Joe'.
  • Mind Screw: The bad endings involve this, especially the second available one.
  • Minimalist Cast: There are only four characters (five if you count the skinwalker).
  • Multiple Endings: Three; two bad endings and one good ending. Which one you get depends on the choices you make at certain points in the game.
  • Nervous Wreck: When the spooky stuff starts happening, Celeste quickly becomes freaked out, insisting they have to get out of there and potentially suffering a full-blown panic attack in the cabin. In the good ending, she overcomes this enough to take out the skinwalker with a shotgun.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In one of the bad endings, Darren, at Joe's urging and with the silent support of the others, shoots at the skinwalker with a shotgun while he and the others are holed up in the cabin. Turns out he actually shot Joe, who was hammering on the door to be let in...and the 'Joe' in the cabin with them is the skinwalker. Oops.
  • Nice Guy / Nice Girl:
    • Joe describes Celeste as being a "positive, happy girl". From what we see of her, she doesn't appear to have any notable negative traits besides getting scared easily (unlike Michael and Darren, who can be rude and irritable, especially under pressure).
    • Joe, potentially. He's usually quite easy-going and cares about the rest of the group, especially Celeste. However, he can choose not to help up Celeste when she falls over, can threaten Celeste with a knife when he thinks she might be an imposter and in one ending, he snaps and murders all his friends due to believing they thought they were more special than him.
  • Nightmare Face: The skinwalker, disguised as Celeste reveals one when Joe realises who it really is beside him.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: The game begins with Joe stating "The following story really happened. I saw it with my own eyes. Maybe it didn’t happen as I saw it, but more on that later."
  • Not So Stoic: Darren starts to lose his cool a bit when the group gets lost on the way to the cabin, angrily insisting he's going the right way even when it's obvious they're not on the right path. In the cabin, he repeatedly states that they're safe in here, possibly to the point of Survival Mantra.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When Joe does a silhouette count on the way to the cabin and realises there's a fifth person.
    • And again when Joe realises the person walking beside him/holding his hand isn't Celeste.
  • Ominous Fog: Although it's supposed to be summer, the forest strangely becomes very foggy, which gets thicker after dark. Darren himself says it's never usually foggy when he comes up there with his family.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Joe and Celeste have been best friends since they were seven; they can even potentially share a bed in the cabin, but there's nothing to suggest they view each other as anything but friends.
  • Properly Paranoid: Joe on the way to the cabin. He has a sense they're being watched or followed and generally has a feeling something is wrong. He's right.
  • Psychological Horror: Much of the game's horror is sourced from the paranoia of being watched or followed (or at least feeling you are) and not knowing if that person who looks like your friend is actually a Humanoid Abomination that has taken their form...The subtext in the game is also rather unsettling, seemingly based around the fears of being alone, unwanted or unappreciated by your loved ones. And one of the bad endings takes us headlong into Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane territory.
  • Ridiculously Average Guy: Joe describes himself as such, saying he's a pretty average guy who has neither "overwhelmingly" good or bad qualities.
  • Schmuck Bait: When the skinwalker finally stops knocking on the door and seemingly disappears, leaving behind only a trail of strange black liquid, Joe is given the option to leave the cabin. Of course, leaving the cabin is actually how you get the good ending.
  • Skinwalker: The primary antagonist. Unlike many other uses of this trope which treat it more like a kind of werewolf, the version in this game explicitly takes the form of other people.
  • Story to Gameplay Ratio: The game is very story-heavy, bordering on Visual Novel, with the gameplay largely consisting of the player simply walking around and interacting with the other characters or objects between cut-scenes.
  • Surreal Horror: Especially in the good ending. Things get really, really weird.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Possibly, due to The Reveal about Joe in one of the bad endings.
  • Token Girl: Celeste is the only girl in the group, though she actually becomes quite important to the plot as opposed to simply 'being there'.
  • Token Minority: Michael is the only non-white member of the group. His being black is never really commented on though.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Surprisingly, the main cast defies some of the classic horror movie tropes when they realize something is near their tent. They acknowledge that their tent is a thin layer of protection from a presumably dangerous person, they all agree to check out the strange noises outside of their tent, and they take whatever supplies they need to survive at Darren’s cabin until morning when they see the dead animal by the fire pit.
    • Joe can choose to leave the safety of the cabin and go into the woods, even though he knows the skinwalker is out there. He gets attacked by the skinwalker, who temporarily steals his identity, and is saved by the rest of the group. Ironically, making this choice is how you get the good ending.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: In the good ending, Michael claims not to remember what happened. Joe isn't sure if he's telling the truth or if he's actively trying to block it out.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: The game never really drops any hints as to which choices are the correct ones, leaving first-time players to figure out the path to the endings for themselves.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You can choose to help up Celeste when she slips over in the mud. This is one of the steps in getting the good ending, although it does turn out that it wasn't Celeste you helped....
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Michael and Darren seem to be this, calling each other stupid and asshole, but otherwise getting along.
  • Voice Changeling: The skinwalker displays this ability.
  • Wham Line:
    • When the light improves enough that Joe can see who's walking beside him in the forest. "It wasn't Celeste".
    • In the second bad ending: "I had been looking for the right moment for a long time. The right moment for what, you ask? Why, the right moment to kill my friends, obviously. What else?"
  • Wham Shot: In the first bad ending, the shot of Joe's bloodied corpse after Darren fired the shotgun through the door.