Wick review: Keep this candle burning

Reviews
7

Good

Reviewed on on: PC

Wick is an indie game developed by Hellbent Games that came out late last year on Steam that flew completely under my radar and only recently came to my attention while perusing the “horror” tag for the umpteenth time looking at all the new shiny games I wouldn’t have time to play. Liking the premise of a ghost story brought to life with a local legend about missing children haunting the woods, I decided that my in-progress university essay would still be there when I was finished and buckled up for what promised to be some pretty hardcore first person horror-fuckery.

Essentially, you play as some poor schmuck who gets ditched in these impenetrable, haunted woods by his so-called ‘friends’. You’ve just been told all these stories about sightings of local dead children in the woods, and you’re then unceremoniously left to your own devices with your friends locking the gate behind them and promising to return for you at 6am.

Wick 1

Gee, thanks…

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d be looking for new friends after this crap. I’d also be trying to climb the fence to get out and certainly wouldn’t be spending the night with ghosts waiting for my jerk friends to come back when they felt like it. However, a “climb the fence” option might have left the game being thirty seconds long so I guess I see why it isn’t an option. Art doesn’t always imitate life, folks.

Much like Five Nights at Freddy’s, the story progresses through multiple chapters covering each hour from the time you’re left there until the morning. As is typical for first person horror games these days, you’ll find documents and newspaper clippings, drawings and evidence all about the missing local children to further uncover the story and try to work out what happened up there.

wick 2

It almost certainly involves the cubby house FROM HELL.

In the dense darkness of the woods, you have one salvation – candles, which are conveniently scattered throughout the location. They serve as both a guide in the dark, and a protection from the ghostlings. As the legend goes, the children will only appear by candlelight anyway, so lucky you. Might have been too easy to just bring a torch.

Much like Outlast with its handheld camera and batteries, each candle only has a certain amount of juice in it, so you’d better make your time in the woods count and try to find as much as you can in the way of clippings and pictures. When you run out of candle light, you’re more vulnerable to being attacked by a variety of enemies, each of which requires a certain strategy to get past and survive the encounter.

wick 4

The creepy shack shall protect my candle from the wind…

While exceedingly terrifying, the numerous encounters and jump scares admittedly got tedious after a while, though the spooky soundtrack and effects assisted in making this pretty scary each time even as it got annoying. While the atmosphere itself was incredibly scary, coming face to face with your antagonists was underwhelming to say the least.

The design of the “children” could have been so much more ominous but instead they look overly cartoony, which is somewhat out of place in a game whose atmosphere and tension is so well built. Laughing as you die might be a good way for a villain in a comic book to go, but for me as a player? Not so much.

wick 3The ending itself, while structured well, was incredibly cliché and could have been more original. Reaching the ending itself is an incredibly arduous task and as the hours ticked by, the difficulty of the game spikes up tremendously, with the encounters with the children becoming more frequent and yes, more irritating as a result.

Good

  • Soundtrack is phenomenally eerie and immersive
  • Due to being on a timer, the game is genuinely suspenseful
  • Atmosphere was terrifying

Bad

  • Insane difficulty spikes
  • Lots of jump scares
  • Very hard to navigate
  • Cliché ending

Summary

In a nutshell, Wick is keep-moving-or-die timed horror. If you enjoyed the kind of challenge presented by games like Five Nights at Freddy’s and are craving more, Wick will be a satisfying experience. And much like FNAF, Wick has the potential to become a franchise. It’s hard to recommend it to a general horror audience however. It’s not long, but it’s punishing as hell and the intended fun of the game can easily get lost in the challenge it presents. Hellbent Games is definitely a developer to keep an eye on though.

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7

Good

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