can our very soul break
to be judged by the dead and the living.
The twist and turns of life
like cuts from a sharpened knife
relentless and endlessly unforgiving.
Unforgiving: A northern Hymn is a Swedish first-person perspective horror game based on Scandinavian folklore and mythology. It was created Angry Demon Studio and released on PC through Steam in 2017. The gameplay lacks combat, and is largely based around avoiding enemies by stealth. The dialogue is entirely in Swedish, with subtitles available in multiple languages.
The game proper starts when the protagonist, a young woman named Linn, wakes up with her hands bound in the backseat of her brother Lucas' car. When she realizes she is being kidnapped by Lucas, Linn kicks her brother in the back, making him lose control and crashing the car in the middle of a dark, sinister forest. After explaining that the kidnapping was part of Lucas' attempted intervention to stop Linn's drug addiction by taking her to the family cabin, the siblings decide they have to find their way through the woods. However, it soon becomes clear that they are not alone in the dark, northern wilderness where ancient evils lurk both without and within.
Unforgiving: A Northern Hymn includes the following tropes:
- Apocalyptic Log: The notes of the former inhabitants of the village and the caves.
- Body Horror: Being bitten by the Skogsrå slowly and painfully makes roots and whines grow trough your skin, eventually turning you into one of the immobile tree-people.
- Cruelty Is the Only Option: Multiple times, beginning with the fact that you have to kick your brother Lucas to start the game, even if that might seem justified at the time. Later on, you have to cut the tongue and eye from his dead body. Then you have to burn the tree-mother and her infant while listening to their desperate pleas to spare them. The very last thing you have to do is to kick your brother once again, re-starting the nightmare.
- Don't Go in the Woods: And don't go underground either while you're at it.
- Grim Up North: It is indeed.
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: After finishing her quest, Linn wakes up again in the back of her brother's moving car while the giggling voice of Näcken informs her that he has made sure she is doomed to relive her nightmare over and over again, unable to escape him.
- Implacable Man: The troll.
- Infant Immortality: Horribly subverted when you burn the tree-mother and her baby.
- Magic Music: The harp of Freya.
- The Morlocks: The Punished.
- Nature Spirit: The Skogsrå is a sinister version of this. She is the one responsible for infecting you and the people of the village with the tree-curse.
- Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: You find a lot of these down in the mines.
- Norse Mythology: Odin, Freya, the Norns and the Diser are all mentioned, seemingly playing a major part behind the scenes.
- Self-Inflicted Hell: The game seems to be this to Linn, even if Näcken (and possibly the Norns) also seem hell-bent on making her suffering last for as long as possible.
- Ten-Second Flashlight: For large parts of the game, your only source of light are matches with a very short burn-time.
- Was Once a Man: The tree-people.