Yakut forest. Review of domestic horror expression Krampen

Independent developers often go for non-standard solutions and experiments in order to attract attention to their project. Some manage to make a statement through dark expressionism, but this is especially good for Russian developers, who, due to limited resources, are looking for the most unusual solutions. You can recall Nikita Kryukov’s project – Milk outside a bag of milk outside a bag of milk . It just so happens that “milk” is catchy with its expression and has quite a few references to the classics of this movement (for example, the famous opera by Alban Berg called “Wozzeck” ). However, at the end of 2023, an equally interesting project was presented, which will be discussed in this short review.

Yakut forest. Review of domestic horror expression Krampen

Review of domestic horror expression Krampen

Only the howling wind…

Krampen  is a story about a simple boy who gets lost in the forest while trying to find a suitable Christmas tree. Don’t rush to laugh at the plot of the story, because this is how it happens in life. When dusk deepens in the middle of the taiga, of course, everyone will think about only one thing: “you need to find a way out.” Oddly enough, this is precisely our role – to help the poor fellow survive and find his way home.

The author decided to follow in the footsteps of Nikita Kryukov and try to “break the fourth wall.” Denis (that’s the name of our hero who needs help) will easily read your system files and find out your username, and the program itself can from time to time add interesting videos to its files. In addition, gradually each of the characters presented will turn their attention to you, and not to Denis. Even the main antagonist, the Master of the Forest (an obvious echo of the story by Dmitry Mordas and the visual novel “Bunny”) will turn to the player with a small request. Whether to do it or not is up to you to decide.

At the same time, the gameplay consists of a meditative exploration of the territory, a search for answers to questions about what is happening around and small mini-games, the successful completion of which will open up the opportunity to get a “secret” ending. The story itself, in turn, has several development options and mostly depends on your decisions. We can say that Denis entrusts his life into the hands of the player, however, you can refuse to talk with him, but in this case nothing good will come of it.

Why go to this forest?..

What really attracts Krampen is its extremely tart atmosphere, which literally mesmerizes the player. High-quality pixel art echoes the competent work of a sound designer. By the way, the sound design itself is clearly inspired by the same “milk”, but with hints of Inscryption . Sometimes you become so immersed in the process that a sudden jump scare will make you squeal in a way that most indie horror has never done before.

At the same time, gloomy expressionism is reflected in almost every phrase thrown out. A talking fish is a psychologist who jokes about his mother-in-law’s gills, Denis’s thoughts about forest idols, talking bushes in search of his lost mother, a reflection on the futility of finding a solution to a problem and the protagonist’s desire to give up everything. Krampen makes you immerse yourself in this adventure and believe for a second that you are more than just a player.

Of course, in order to experience Krampen you will have to sacrifice Denis a couple of times and sometimes strain your head. Moving around the world is rather unprepossessing, but is compensated by dynamic scenes. From time to time you will come across notes that will allow you to draw conclusions about what is happening around you. However, one of the most striking moments of the game is examining an abandoned hut with a flashlight. Honestly, it can really make you listen intently to the sounds around you. All this turns this project into a good, but short, meditative adventure with the opportunity to enjoy the gloomy atmosphere and the fabulous madness happening on the screen.

he visual style really creates a good atmosphere at times

We conclude:

Krampen, which is quite obvious, will appeal to fans of non-standard solutions and flirting with psychology. Of course, if the visual does not cause rejection. Despite the rather simple gameplay, the overall atmosphere of the game captures attention with its gloomy expression.

If you once liked Milk outside a bag of milk outside a bag of milk, then you can safely devote your free evening to trying to help another person who desperately needs it.

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