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Video Game / Through the Woods

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Through The Woods is a horror exploration game made by Antagonist and published by 1C Entertainment. It was released for PC in October 2016, and ported to PS4 and Xbox One in May 2018.

The game follows a mother and son due in a getaway into the woods so she can focus on her work, but things become odder when he is taken by a stranger into the woods, and she goes to try to save him, but the forest hides many dangers. It takes extensive inspiration from Norse myths and the player finds many creatures of it throughout the game.

Tropes present in this game:

  • After the End: An unusual take on the trope, as the normal world doesn't seem to be much different from normal. However, Ragnarök happened, and the world is only sustained by child sacrifice to Fenris.
  • Animalistic Abomination: One of the monsters faced is a horrific giant, rotting boar. A collectible in the game reveals it to be Sæhrímnir, the enchanted boar which is butchered and eaten every night in Valhöll (only to regenerate to be eaten the next night) who is understandably hostile after breaking loose during Ragnarök. There's also the Warg brothers, being absolutely massive wolves with glowing symbols along their bodies, corresponding to their roles as eaters of the sun and moon.
  • Another Dimension: The Forest is effectively this, being the focal point of the human world when Ragnarök happened and the Bifröst shattered, effectively isolating it in its own universe alongside the other surviving figures from Norse myth.
  • Anti-Villain: Erik is not happy to have to sacrifice children to the Wargs, but is the only way to keep everyone alive.
  • The Atoner: In the end, the mother aims to become this, in order to make peace with both her transgression that drove her husband to suicide and for not being able to save Espen's life.
  • Bilingual Bonus: There are several runestones throughout the game (which use Elder Futhark runes to phonologically spell modern Norwegian) which give background on the mythos and surrounding area. The Warg brothers also speak Icelandic (the closest living language to Old Norse).
  • Bittersweet Ending: Espen is dead, despite everything the mother went through to bring him home. But at the same time, his death has bought the world more time. And to make sure his death wasn't in vain, she plans to take up Erik's task of sacrificing children.
  • Blinded by the Light: A few creatures a sensitive to the light, and can be force back by flashing the flashlight at them.
  • Deal with the Devil: An interesting example, as it was struck by a god. Vidarr, son of Odin, promised to give Fenris food as long as Fenris didn't devour the sun.
  • Dimensional Traveller: Erik uses the shards of the shattered Bifröst (rainbow bridge linking Miðgarðr to Ásgarðr) to travel from the Forest to the modern world in order to kidnap those slated for sacrifice to Fenrir.
  • Disappeared Dad: The mother never touches upon what happened to Espen's father, only that one day "he was gone". Depressingly justified later, when it is revealed that the mother accused the father of being abusive during the divorce hearings, causing him to lose any custody of their son. He committed suicide later, much to the mother's chagrin.
  • Dual Boss: The Two Warg Brothers, two gigantic wolves that had been feeding on people of the village, which forced Erik to start sacrifices. They are Sköll and Hati, the sons of Fenrir who eternally chase the sun and moon as per Norse myth.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Fenrir is this, despite looking like a wolf he's the size of a mountain and should he be freed it would mean the end of all existence.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: In the end, when the Mother salvages Espen's drowned body from the water, the player's actions will boil down to two options. The first option (which the player can pick as often as they want) is to try resuscitating Espen, but to no avail. The second option is the only way to end the game: accept that Espen is dead.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Of the tragic kind: Víðarr, the son of Óðinn who was meant to slay Fenrir at Ragnarök, who failed in his task and instead began the legacy of kidnapping and sacrifice to appease Fenrir and stave off the apocalypse.
    • Less tragically, Fenris, the great wolf, spawn of Loke, who would devour the sun and end the world.
  • Maternally Challenged: According to the opening narration, the mother's worst fears were realized when, upon Espen's birth, she "felt nothing", and was left raising a child she did not love. Subverted, as she got better as her son got older.
  • Meaningful Name: Espen is named after Espen Askeladd, the archetypical hero in Norwegian folklore. Think of him as the Norwegian equivalent to King Arthur or Pwyll, only less magical.
  • My Greatest Failure: When Espen was young, his mother broke his arm. When his parents got divorced, the father used this knowledge to try to get the full custody, but the mother accused him first, painting him as a Domestic Abuser, which caused him to be restricted from ever seeing his son or his ex-wife again and eventually commit suicide. She never got over it and a witch uses these memories to psychologically attack her.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: While investigating a house along the shore, players can see something that looks like a mass of roots with glowing eyes a bit out in the water, slowly coming closer. It dips under before it gets to shore, and is not seen again. It's the Nøkk, a waterdweller that would drown the careless, not unlike Kappa or Kelpies.
  • Religious Horror: A rare Norse pagan take on this trope, effectively asking the question what if Ragnarök had happened, but rather than a stalemate and rebirth the forces of chaos were more successful, and demanded sacrifice?
  • That's No Moon: The mountain at the end of the final stage. The mountain is actually the mouth of Fenrir, slowly moving to eventually eat the sun.
  • The Dead Have Names: Erik keeps a book titled "Registry of Heroes" containing the names of all the children he's been forced to sacrifice to appease Fenrir. Besides their names, it also includes their genders, how willing they were to be sacrificed and various positive comments about each child in question.
  • Weird Moon: Once crossing into the Forest proper, the moon has a bitemark in it. This is a reference to the myth of Ragnarök where Hati, the son of Fenrir, finally catches and eats the moon as one of the signs of the apocalypse.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Both Erik and his late master, the god Víðarr, kidnapped and sacrificed children to Fenrir, in order to appease him and prevent the end of all existence.
  • World Tree: Despite being based on Norse mythology and folklore, the Trope Codifier is conspicuously absent. This is because the great ash burned in Ragnarok.