(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 (ifdb.org))
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.