UNFORGIVING: A NORTHERN HYMN
Available on Steam for PC
Developed and Published by Angry Demon Studio
In first-person horror game UNFORGIVING: A NORTHERN HYMN, you wake up inside the back seat of a car with your wrists bound and a bald-headed driver at the wheel. Panicking, you’re given the option to try and free yourself from this situation. After managing to boot the driver in the back of the head, the car goes out of control and ends up in a river where miraculously you’re able to get ashore, as does your captor. After an exchange of words in Swedish, you discover that your female character was detained by your brother ( the driver) for your own safety and was on the way to a cabin retreat to get clean of an addiction. Instead, the car’s now wrecked in the middle of a river and you must make it on foot through a dark forest armed with nothing but a torch which your brother is holding.
UNFORGIVING: A NORTHERN HYMN is an independently made game from Angry Demon Studio that manages to capture everything pure and terrifying about what lies out there in the forest… a Nordic forest at that! The eerie atmosphere, complimented by the shrieks, screams and rustles of the woodland, are enough to set you on edge and this game sure does that.
Stuck in the woods, following your big bro and the little spot of light, you must navigate the dangerous terrain and the things that go “bump” in the night to find a way out. With the ability to jump, sprint and crouch, the game requires you to do those things and occasionally presents an actionable target such as a tree to push over or items to pick up and inspect. Later on in the game, you’ll be given matches to light to be able to see in the blackness of the night and to be able to set fire to certain objects. You’ll also be required to play a tune on an instrument, which you acquire later in the game, to be able to open up doorways and progress through the chapters. By giving you less to do, in terms of controlling your character, it makes you feel very vulnerable walking through the forest. Whilst I may not like that through a personal fear thing, I think it’s a brilliant decision for a horror videogame such as this. Timing also becomes an element of gameplay and there’s many times I found myself greeted with the death screen after having succumbed to the creatures that inhabit the woods through mistiming my movements.
Whilst I like horror games, they actually frighten me and whilst I’m actually playing them, I absolutely hate them. I scream, I swear and I’m probably one shy from wetting myself. UNFORGIVING: A NORTHERN HYMN didn’t disappoint in this department and seemed to do better than most I’ve played recently by absolutely freaking me the hell out. Not only does the game capture the essence of a horrifying, lonely existence in the worst possible place to be in the darkness, the devs have also conjured up creatures from mythology that will genuinely make you nervous. Some have sharp teeth, some appear as demon souls, but all of them are definitely the type you’d want to run away from. With jump scares aplenty and villainous creatures that you will do anything to avoid, the game manages to construct a thrilling nightmare.
Aside from the engaging, clever storyline and atmospheric game environment, the sound department is where the game really stands out. For the majority of my playing time, I wore a gaming headset and boy oh boy will this game give you the chills. With perfectly cued noises and scene-setting music, I was already terrified before I’d even come across any threat. When you do come into contact, or even near an enemy, the music changes which can sometimes help with your game playing such as when you’re being chased by any number of the mythical creatures. On speakers, the game still sounds great but the immersive sound on headphones really surpasses it and is how the game should be experienced. Shut all the lights off too and play in darkness for some real scares!
From a technical point of view, I didn’t encounter any bugs and the game works like a dream with the Xbox 360 controller for Windows. For achievement hunters, there’s plenty of achievements to unlock via Steam and there’s also the collectable Steam trading cards that can earn you a badge if you collect them all. The game, though short, is a bit longer than a lot of indie horror games I’ve played (I racked 5 hours). It’s certainly one that likes to keep you on your toes, whether it’s having a nosey about in empty houses or creeping around a series of cave tunnels.
A game that can make me scream and swear as often as this did deserves some recognition. It’s a brilliant indie game and really manages to emulate the feeling of a horror movie. To be fair, this scared me more than any horror movie. so if you’d like a genuinely frightening experience that embraces Nordic folklore, I strongly suggest you head on over to Steam and check out UNFORGIVING: A NORTHERN HYMN. It’s a scream!