When I was 16-years-old I think I was hiding bottles of whiskey in a make-shift compartment I’d fashioned out of a flat-pack desk in my bedroom. My ambitions involved finishing school and getting drunk. I was probably considered a hopeless if academically successful wreck. This is only confirmed by seeing what other 16-year-olds get up to. Specifically, the 16-year-old Melbourne-based artist Anthony Tan who is making a beautiful videogame called Way To The Woods by himself. This is flabbergasting.
Way To The Woods is described as a third-person adventure that follows a mother deer and her fawn as they travel through a “strange place.” By the looks of the screenshots, this place is the post-apocalyptic ruins of humanity; run-down public bathrooms and train tunnels abandoned except for the curling green fingers of nature as it takes back over. It’s hardly a stretch to see the similarities in these environments to those traipsed and fought through in The Last of Us and, indeed, that is where some of the inspiration for this 16-year-old’s project comes from. Others include teen drama videogame Life is Strange, and Miyazaki’s animated classics Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke.
As pleasant as it all looks, it seems that the titular journey to the woods with these two deer won’t be all peace and quiet. Another shot shows a pack of wild dogs (or wolves?) baring their fangs in a dark underpass. There will be danger. Which also makes it very similar to Might & Delight’s two Shelter games, both of which had you playing as a mothering animal safeguarding their young in the wild—in the first it was a badger, and in the second it was a Lynx.
Way To The Woods has been in the making for about a year and its young creator is currently awaiting for a response to his application for a Unreal Dev Grant to continue working on it. While “nervously waiting,” Tan decided to share some new screenshots of the game that you can see here. And it’s these that caught the eye of No Man’s Sky programmer Sean Murray, who brought fruther attention to Way To The Woods via a tweet in which he described it as “the most gorgeous thing you’ll see today.” He’s probably right.
You can follow the development of Way To The Woods on its Tumblr page. It’s only confirmed for PC at the moment.