A story can carry a video game. Not every game needs flashy graphics to make it good. The Secret of Darkwood is one of those games where the story and quests can keep you playing.
The Secret of Darkwood is an interesting RPG that feels like a Tabletop RPG. It plays like a visual novel with RPG elements. There is also a small amount of open-world gameplay in the game, as you can deviate from the main story at any point. It is also free to play!
It is a fun game with a few problems. Let’s get into the game a bit more.
TLDR: A Good RPG with an Engaging Story.
A Familiar Main Story and Plenty of Side Stories
This is a story that I’ve gone through multiple times. Your character wakes up in a forest without remembering who they are. From here, you piece things together by completing quests.
Eventually, you end up part of a plot to overthrow the King of the game’s country. Whenever I play a game with this story, I wonder if people are just using you. It isn’t a criticism of the game; it is just something I think about when I go through the story.
There isn’t just the main story. The Secret of Darkwoods has plenty of side quests to do. The side quests range from helping someone get home, killing a monster, and delivering letters. I did run into a problem with these quests.
One of the ways you get side quests is by talking to a random villager. This is one of the options when you get to a village or town. It felt like I had done all of the quests at some point. Instead of quests, I got rumors about special items or dungeons that might hold a monster.
It isn’t a long game, but it has a good story. It reminded me of other games I had played, especially when I was going around gathering allies to fight the king.
Visual Novel/Text-based RPG
The gameplay boils down to choosing an action from a list of two to four options. When talking to villagers, you have a list of dialogue options that let you act how you want. You can choose between two types of attack and running away in combat.
If you want to see your inventory, quests, and character stats, you need to check out the character sheet. This can be done at any time. Here is a rundown of what is on the character sheet:
- Character Health and Condition
- Level and Experience. You don’t know how much experience you need for each level, making this feel random.
- List of Skills, Quests, and Inventory
The combat in the game is odd, to say the least. It fits with the tabletop vibe of the game, but it is a bit strange at times. At times your attacks are tied to your stats. This leads you to attack with one of the following:
Two of these make sense to me. The attacks are supposed to be tied to a modifier, like your Strength or Speed. It is, but it feels odd to me when I attack using Dexterity. I’m unsure how to attack with Endurance or Dexterity, but what do I know?
This is a minor criticism. Having multiple attacks in the dialogue tree makes sense. Having them tied to two stats I don’t usually think of isn’t a big problem.
I wouldn’t say I like the inventory system in this game. Everything is thrown into one long list, and I found it a little hard to find what I wanted, especially when looking for healing items.
Overall, the gameplay is fun. I enjoyed going through the main story; the side quests are also interesting and, at times, can be funny.
Wonderful Pictures and Music
This is part of the game that I liked the most! Specifically, I like the way the undead and swamp monsters look. The way the monsters look is different enough to stand out. Some creatures have been used in so many games that it can be hard to make them look unique, but The Secret of Darkwood pulls this off.
Dungeons, caves, and sewers look threatening, like places you shouldn’t go. The ruins and prisons give off the impression of this world being older than the player can know, as if this place has more stories than we can experience in the game. I enjoy it when a game does this.
These pictures do the heavy lifting of creating this game’s world. Because this is set up like a visual novel, there isn’t any animation. We have text and pictures.
This works for how the game is set up. It feels like a pen and paper game; in those, you need to use your imagination to visualize what is happening. The pictures give you a frame of reference to fill in the rest.
The music works with these pictures nicely. It is spooky and atmospheric, which can make some places unsettling. It is great!
I recommend this game. It has a good story, the graphics are good, and the music is great.
- Good Story
- Great Pictures of Monsters, Locations, and People
- Wonderful Music
- Inventory System
- A Little Short
This is a good game that reminds me of playing a TTRPG. It reminds me of HeroQuest and some Dungeons & Dragons video games. It lacks features like character creation, but it makes up for that with its story.
The story is fun to play through. It reminds me of a few other games, but The Secret of Darkwood tells it well. I only had minor criticisms of some parts of the gameplay, but nothing that would keep me from recommending this game.