Explore a petrified forest in this short pseudo-horror game.
Wire Wood Daughters is an arrestingly unsettling game, like playing an old Game Boy horror on a console thatâ€™s melting down in your hands. Made single-handedly by Ada Rook, itâ€™s a 30-minute adventure that sticks in the mind like a migraine and turned my skin to pinpricks. The aesthetic bleeds through all of her projects, each one as morbidly cutesy as the last.
The world is a mix of grey-green forests and sickly monochromatic subterranean caves. Itâ€™s solemn and lonely, punctuated by moments of more dynamic terror as a ghostly figure chases you through the underground tunnels. Despite the aggressively cold design and colour palette, the forest is strangely welcoming.
tâ€™s a game about memory â€” about navigating the decaying husk of a once-familiar place. Wandering among the dead trees feels like living someone elseâ€™s half-remembered dream. Youâ€™re only told the final chapter of a story, but it conveys enough emotion that you can draw conclusions about the rest. At intervals, a narrator recounts a past friendship like she is reading a diary to everyone and no one. She speaks of a lost connection, the kind so deep and impactful that it reshapes your identity. The reading is uncomfortable, almost hastened, like a panicked attempt to remember something before it's gone forever.
Itâ€™s like a loop of the feeling of being lost. Your destination becomes sanctuary, the end of the herculean task in front of you. You must find it. Picking which direction to go can feel like a life-or-death decision, and youâ€™re never quite sure if youâ€™ve doubled back on yourself. And then, just as the environment feels like itâ€™s closing in around you, you stumble upon your goal and realise that itâ€™s just ordinary. A place like any other. All the places youâ€™ve walked through disappear into the vague memory of a journey.
Leftover items scattered throughout the forest reinforce the feeling that there was once something here, but it too has faded and decayed; the odd rusty key here, a few scraps of paper there. They serve no purpose but to remind you that youâ€™re a few years too late.
Rook creates a tangible atmosphere with Wire Wood Daughters. The world is frozen and decayed, but given life by the grinding winds, rain effects that swallow the screen and thunder that reminds you you're at the mercy of the elements. The sound design is absolutely the highlight. It gets progressively more solemn, eventually thrumming like a church organ against a tide of analog static.
The journey through Wire Wood mirrors its own narrative perfectly; I canâ€™t remember the places, the trees or the exact words used to chronicle the narratorâ€™s story, but I remember colours; I remember sounds; and I remember the destination, as painfully ordinary as it was. You can find Wire Wood Daughters and all of Rookâ€™s other projects on her itch.io page.