Lost in the Woods Offers 'Game About Accidental Discovery' At Fantastic Fest's Arcade [PREVIEW]

By Alex Riviello , Updated Sep 20, 2014 02:35 PM EDT
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Charles Elwonger of Animal Phase showed up at the Fantastic Fest's Fantastic Arcade this week to talk about his upcoming game Lost in the Woods., which he described as "a game about accidental discovery." 

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Lost in the Woods sees you walking through a mysterious forest, listening to the sounds of the leaves crunching under your feet and crickets chirping all around you.  A demo was provided for attendees and it was immediately obvious that the simplistic style was echoed in its controls. In fact, the game only uses a joystick to look around and a single button to press, which does double duty for walking and interacting with objects you find in the environment.

The look of Lost in the Woods really stands out, as it uses this minimalist style that works remarkably well even as it feels like it shouldn't. By using flat colors, radiants and fog, Elwonger has managed to trick your brain into thinking you're wandering a heavily wooded forest even if it's actually just simple geometric shapes, the trees smooth sticks that stretch upward to nothingness. 

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Elwonger works in software design and clearly likes to plan. He showed pictures of his office brimming with post-its, the work of an interactive flow chart. He also used modeling clay to design his levels, preferring a physical model that lets him easily manipulate things. Legos were used for previous projects but the nature of this world is much smoother and rounded, so clay was the way to go.

In the full game of Lost in the Woods you start off wandering around the forest in daytime.

“In my mind it’s almost a memory of a journey,” stated Elwonger, one that sees you wandering around interacting with artifacts you find scattered around the environment. You eventually find a map that lays out various landmarks and lets you figure out the layout of the world.

At first it’s more of an archeological dig that you’re completely disconnected from personally but as you go on the game seeks to make you more a part of the story.

Elwonger is trying to decide exact length of the game, although it’s broken up into two distinct parts. “It has one specific break point where you find a key piece of evidence, a climactic revelation where it’s up to you to choose where to go.”

It’s an obvious moment visually, as the world transitions from day to night. Now you’ll utilize all the information you learned during the first part of the game (how to traverse the world, astronogy and star locations) and find out just what’s going on in the story. Astronomy will play a major aspect in the game, as you'll chart your journey by the stars. At one location in the demo you can sit down on a slab and gaze at the the starry sky, which started blurring and spinning all around you.

What does it all mean? Only time will tell. The demo only offered up a small taste of what to expect but the style is different enough and the developer's ideas ambitious enough to ensure that we're going to carve out time for a little trip into the woods when it's released.

Lost in the Woods is currently in development and you can follow its progress on Animal Phase’s site.

Check out our full Fantastic Arcade coveage right here and keep checking back at GameNGuide for more!

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