Review: The Darkness of Raven Wood

(New adventures with the BBC Micro! This game was not yet on IFDB. I have added a page for it. Could someone check my work? I’m not sure if I handled the “Download”-link correctly. A moody illustrated Horror game: The Darkness of Raven Wood - Details (

Darn Werewolf!

A disturbing letter has come from your old friend Raynard, the blacksmith in the town of Raven Wood. A new lord has come to inhabit the Manor, and sinister events have been happening since. Alarmed, you travel by carriage to meet him…

The Darkness of Raven Wood is an oldschool horror adventure. The two word parser can cause some guess-the-verb problems. Worse however is that the necessary verbs are used somewhat inconsistently. Case in point: the “Instructions” explicitly give the example of UNLOCK DOOR, which can even be abbreviated to UNLO DOOR, since the parser only takes the first four letters into consideration. However, when I found a locked door, I had to USE KEY instead. When at another point in the game I wanted to USE AXE when ATTACK [x] or CUT [x] or HIT [x] didn’t work, it turns out I needed to SWING AXE. I feel this is a much more ambiguous situation than UNLOCK door, where USE would actually have been appropriate.
(EDIT: apparently the instructions on the rucksackgames website do specify SWING AXE and USE KEY. Just not in-game.)

These bits of parser wrangling are the only real criticism I can bring up as negatives.

The introduction sets a dark and oppressive mood which the sparse but efficient writing underscores. The frightening atmosphere is further enhanced by beautifully gloomy pixel art, among the best I have seen.

The game demands careful exploration of the map and thorough examining of the contents of the locations (no X, but you can abbreviate to EXAM). Most of the puzzles consist of simple application of objects in the right place. Some however require a good memory of locations previously explored, to make the associative leap that what you have just done here will have changed something there .

There are some areas where you will invariably lose your bearings. While it is necessary to search these thoroughly too, once you have done so there is a simple sequence of directional commands to get you out of the woods.
The cryptic hint list on the game’s homepage is very helpful with this and other obstacles.

What started as an inquisitive exploration around the town at the beginning of Chapter I, becomes gradually darker and more frightening, especially when you enter the grounds of the Manor and then the house itself in Chapter II.

A suspenseful and atmospheric horror game, somewhat hampered by the limited parser. Recommended.


(The instructions on the corresponding website are tweaked slightly, compared to those in game, in that they specifically mention SWING AXE and USE KEY.
I presume they’re the ones that accompanied the later physical relese of the game.

If you don’t want to faff about with emulators, then there is online play on John’s website, and also here… The Darkness Of Raven Wood)


Ah… Will edit.

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It works fine in Beeb-X Android emulator.
You have to choose “load file” from the menu, select the file and then “save file to local”
Next you can run it by selecting the file from the local files list menu.

Thank you.

If you press 0 (zero) at the first menu, you get a slideshow of all the art in the game:

All the artwork was compressed so that it would fit into 200KB together with all the code. In fact, the whole game fits into 200KB (a single side of a 5.25-inch floppy disk). When you’re playing the game, the BBC Micro loads and decompresses the picture-data on the fly, as and when it’s needed.


Thanks for the hint.

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