What’s creepier than an abandoned old church, half destroyed in a fire? Well, a creepy old church half-destroyed in a fire that has been retrofitted into a Resident Evil-style mansion, stalked by god only knows what, of course. Such is the situation faced by those who sit down to play Beneath the Woods, a survival horror game from the minds of Paraham Sorooshian, Steven Lee and Francesca Lin — three students who are looking to get their game picked up by a publisher and brought a demo at EGX 2022 last week.
The game starts by introducing you to Davis, our protagonist who reluctantly finds himself back in Redscott Pines after two years of absence – a period that’s not been long enough for the townsfolk to forgive his past transgressions. You’re here to find your sister, Mina, who has gone missing. The Sheriff, of course, thinks she’s she simply skipped town with her no-good boyfriend Tyler, but Tyler knows better. “People in this town have been disappearing like in a ****ing slasher movie,” he helpfully tells you in a flashback recap of the story so far.
You’re helpfully pointed towards a church that you burned down two years ago, where you see someone dragging a body. Just as you peer through the trees to see what’s going on, Mina’s bestie grabs you to say hi. Your lead has disappeared, and you have no choice but to enter the church and try to find your sister.
It’s a cool concept, and the chance to play inspired by Resident Evil is always a pull for me. Sadly, the game handles like it’s on the N64. Of all the nostalgia we have for the likes of the second epoch of video games consoles, absolutely nobody misses the often bizarre control schemes of the 90s. Talking to the devs afterwards, it seems that there are plans to move from keyboard and mouse to a gamepad, which would make the game a lot smoother and would be a welcome change, there just wasn’t time to get it done ahead of this weekend’s event.
The demo is fairly short, as you’d expect from the floor of EGX, so we won’t go into the puzzles you’ll find in the church in much detail, but suffice to say they’re nowhere near as complex as Resident Evil. Perhaps they’ll get more complicated as you draw closer to whoever is stealing people away, but for now, it’s a nice nod at a genre I love, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it again at a later date.