Think Twice Before You Go Into The Woods, But Not For The Usual Reasons [Review]


The Woods

Alright, stop me if you’ve heard this one:

The Woods by 3 Cubes Research Limited
Category: iOS Games
Works With: iPhone, iPad
Price: $.99

An unseen protagonist, armed only with a flashlight, sets off on an investigation into some spooky woods. With no map, our hero wanders through the forest gathering a bunch of pages for unknown reasons with a shadowy, black-clad figure in pursuit. The tormentor can appear anywhere at will, and if you look at it too long, the game will end, and you will have to start over from the beginning.

If you think that sounds an awful lot like developer Parsec Productions’ instant classic Slender: The Eight Pages, you would be correct. But that’s also the premise of 3 Cubes Research Limited’s less ominously named The Woods, which is available now for iPhone and iPad.

I’m not really sure what else to say; The Woods is Slender with more pages, a less scary antagonist, and worse controls.

It’s impossible not to compare the two, really. Slender has eight pages scattered around its world, and they might be in slightly different places every time you play. The Woods has 20, and they’re always in the same place. So if you play the game over and over — which you will for reasons I will get to later — it becomes mostly a matter of memorizing where they are and just going there.

Slender Man, himself, is iconic and terrifying due to his twisted resemblance to a human being. The Woods‘ horned demon and his gang of Pac-Man ghosts, however, are not nearly as scary, and they take way longer to kill you. By which I mean that the animation when you lose takes for-effing-ever.

Controlling a first-person game with a touchscreen has always been an iffy prospect. The Woods‘ solution is to treat the left and right sides of the screen like analog sticks on a controller: The left side controls movement, and the right side controls where you look. It’s good in theory, but in a game that requires you to keep constantly watch for demons, it’s probably not the best idea to require players to constantly obscure large parts of the screen. After a while, the controls also started feeling a little slimy somehow, and I didn’t really feel like I was in control.

The Woods is Slender with more pages, a less scary antagonist, and worse controls.

And speaking of out of control: One element of The Woods cost it an entire point in its score, and that is cheap deaths. During two of my sessions, I fell into an extremely inconvenient hole. A hole I didn’t see until I was in it. A hole from which it is impossible to escape. Once you’re in the hole, all you can do is wait for Inky, Pinky, or Clyde to show up and slowly put you out of your misery. Repeat: This happened twice.

The Woods
One of my scariest moments was when I found a page inside the tent I’d slept in. That’s just wrong, isn’t it?

My most frustrating loss, however, was my last attempt, during which I found all 20 pages and returned to the crossroads as instructed. There was Woods Demon standing in a bright shaft of light; this is what the ritual had promised. But I didn’t know what to do then, so I stood there, and suddenly Inky showed up and killed me and the game reset. I’d found all 20 pages, damn it. What do you want from me?

I’ve been down a lot on the game, but it does look great, and it plays well for the most part. If you love Slender, it’s worth a try; just don’t expect the same experience.

The WoodsGame Name: : The Woods
The Good: Cool graphics and some good suspense.
The Bad: Slimy controls, contrived premise, that f***ing hole.
The Verdict It’s a good game, but not great, that hopes to follow in the footsteps of brilliance and stumbles along the way.
Buy from:App Store