External Links

Main Crossroads
Spring Thing 2024 page, with links to the seven paths (also linked below).
Play this game in your Web browser.
Back to The City
Path by David (8). (At the Spring Thing site.)
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Dark Dream
Path by Baily's Sisters (11). (At the Spring Thing site.)
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Path by Hailey and Milka (11). (At the Spring Thing site.)
Play this game in your Web browser.
IXI in the Forest
Path by Leontine (6). (At the Spring Thing site.)
Play this game in your Web browser.
Little Frogie
Path by Natalie (12). (At the Spring Thing site.)
Play this game in your Web browser.
Survive or Die
Path by Unicorn Sisters (13). (At the Spring Thing site.)
Play this game in your Web browser.
The Dark One
Path by Mushroom (13). (At the Spring Thing site.)
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Deep Dark Wood

by Senica Thing


(based on 2 ratings)
5 reviews

About the Story

You're now at the Main Crossroads. There are seven paths leading from here into the Deep Dark Wood. Each path is a separate micro game written by a student from Senica, Slovakia as an answer to an open call for entries with common starting point - in the middle of a forest.

(This is a special Spring Thing 2024 entry, with seven games presented as one. These games come from a classroom in Slovakia that encouraged students to enter a 'mini competition' called the Senica Thing. These students are looking to learn and grow, and would benefit from constructive feedback.)

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: April 1, 2024
Current Version: Unknown
Development System: Twine
IFIDs:  35E69070-5C89-4DDE-81BB-7FFFF8200280
TUID: l7clx27xwa5t23xq

Makes reference to Mirror, by Ondrej Odokienko and Senica Thing


Entrant, Back Garden - Spring Thing 2024


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Number of Reviews: 5
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Spring Thing 2024: Deep Dark Wood, April 28, 2024
by kaemi
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2024

I’ve visited Slovakia only briefly, and glancing up at Bratislava Castle, which I didn’t have time to visit, made me wistful for all the other wonders of Slovakia I hadn’t time to visit, dreaming of a someday to return, wandering the mountain forests between Banská Bystrica and Kosice, discovering along a river some quiet village untouched by time, watching the stars slowly seep into the sky…

As life often goes, I have never returned. Those mountain forests remain redolent in my heart’s trove of pleasant could bes. So I am thankful for the opportunity to explore those forests, guided by the creative young minds of Senica, each one eager to show me where their dreams wander. Of course, our energetic explorers aren’t satisfied with a sleepy Rick Steves holiday: “You are entering a dark place full of unpredictable twists and hostile creatures,” we are warned, so we must tread lightly, trusting in our guides.

If you start feeling tentative, no worries, David is quick to set you at ease. Immediately we’re welcomed into a warm log cabin celebrating a Christmas Eve feast, graciously invited to join the festivities. This social fleetness, a polite world where everyone is very keen to introduce themselves and assist you immediately, is as charming as it is chipper.

Should you wish a little thrill of the danger initially promised, the Baily sisters gather around you all the forest’s predators, or at least those sufficiently pettable: wolves, foxes, bears, ravenous dog doctors. If you’re now worried about being eaten, you must also worry about what’s being eaten, with poisoned coffee and cupcakes galore. Even if you avoid these comestible anxieties, you might still wake up dead, and what’s worse, hungry.

Before we break for lunch, though, Hailey and Milka take us on a Halloween scavenger hunt. A couple of clicks through and a cursed doll was biting my hand while I was drowning beneath a lake. I take it that I’m losing the hunt. When I just managed to sweat myself back to safety, our guides reassured my halfdead delirium, “Don’t worry about it :).” So, sharing their relentless optimism, I returned for another try at the trophy, only to end up stuck in a basement with my simulacrum mom forcedrinking me Coke for the rest of my days. What a frightening world our authors have conjured! Strangely, this ending awarded me Main Trophy Number One. Encouraged by this progress, I tried again, this time happening upon a penguin I mistook for a handsome boy, reminding me that I need to update my glasses prescription. In my defense, penguins look like they’re wearing tuxedos!

Desiring a bit more control over my fate, I was happy that Leontine offered me the opportunity to help craft the narrative of IXI, who makes friends with all the animals of the woods and meadows. In each of these choices, we get to decide what happens to IXI in the encounter. Some of these animals, like a surprisingly carnivorous doe, are dangerous, but most are friendly, if sometimes a little lazy. Which, when you get to spend your days relaxing with plushy bunnies, sounds entire reasonable.

Unfortunately, not all animals have happygolucky lives, and Natalie takes us through the frustrations of a frog undertaking that most froglike of tasks, budget management. We must go grocery shopping and avoid expensive trips to doctors and dentists, so that our frog is free to enjoy the finer things in life, including this adorable line about painting a selfportrait: “It turned out very pretty (because you were on it) and cute.” Even with one eye on our bank account, we must find ways to avoid the frog’s everpresent ennui and cherish adventuresome moments, like seeing a sea turtle flying around a palm tree, which would surely leave David Attenborough lost for words.

Also keen to avoid sad moments, the Unicorn sisters soften the blow of their horror story with little baubles of cheer, like this one that lightens the mood: “You decide to explore the cellar and find a monster there. You become the monster’s dinner :)” Well, always look on the bright side of death, just before you draw your terminal breath! With this attitude, our jaunt about a haunted mansion doesn’t seem so bad: “What seemed like a horror movie can now turn into a weekend party. You order pizza and prepare for an overnight, lighting a fire to dry out your wet socks.” Sure, you get chased around a bit, but it never hurts to get a little cardio, and a fun round of hide and seek sure makes the time pass quickly. Why not learn to stop worrying and love the beast? Worked for Belle, at least. “You go back to your hideout, eat the pizza while the monster finishes its own dinner and then, with stomachs full, it is much easier to make friends … You watch some films on Netflix together and become friends for the time being?” Ah, the Netflix algorithm, a modern Scheherazade.

We wait for the beast to fall asleep, then make our escape. Needing to find ourselves safely on our way home, our final guide, Mushroom, winds us back through the forest. Additional dangers await us, of course: mysterious berries, mysterious old women, mysterious dinosaurs. Our guide, solicitous of our success, gives us multiple chances to evade these threats, always emphasizing which route might turn out the better, although emphasis on might: “I didn’t know that you couldn’t swim. If you had told me before, you couldn’t swim, I might have watched out for the rivers around…”

With a little more caution, I do manage to find my way safely on my way home, edified by all the adventures I’ve been taken on. Ďakujem za všetko!

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
7 Forest-based stories written by kids, June 17, 2024
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is the second time that students from Senica in Slovakia have written an anthology of short Twine stories for inclusion into Spring Thing.

This year there are 7 games, all of which start in a dark forest.

Most have a 'time cave' structure, where, instead of state tracking or having paths converge, all choices split the game into separate paths. Some do have a little bit of converging. Most end after 2-4 choices, often evaluating how good your ending is.

I enjoyed the small jokes, like linking an ellipsis to a 'why are you still here?' message, and the funny endings like dying of boredom and low trust while hiding behind a rock.

It could be fun next year to have a little more color; maybe letting students pick some of the CSS.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Surprising Retruning Anthology, May 16, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: springthing

Deep Dark Wood is an anthology collection of micro games created by Slovakian children in Twine. Though the authors are different, the group is the same as last SpringThing.

In the deep dark woods, seven paths will lead you for a strange journey. Beware...

Back to the City: trying to go back home, you stumble upon a party. Stay or avoid it. Explore the forest or leave it. And find your way home. Maybe even help a stranger. It's a cute micro path.

Dark Dream: in this widely branching path, many actions are available to you to see this dream unfold, most of them quite dangerous. Will you know which one to take and wake up unscathed? For you must watch out, dreams often affect reality...
I didn't expect the whiplashing end screens, but it game be a good laugh. Surprisingly intricate!

Halloween: the Hunt has begun, and you might not be the hunter this Halloween, as strange paths are offered to you, many leading you astray. Will you find a happy ending? or live the rest of your life in misery (that is, if you survive at all)?
Another widely branching story, with many endings (I counted at least 8 of them in my playthrough). Some little text issues here and there. Surprisingly dark and gruesome at time. Would have seen something like it at the EctoComp!

IXI in the Forest:branching into on sentence passages, you are IXI, an enthusiastic character exploring the forest and trying to make friends with its inhabitant. Your actions determining widely different endings.
Another cute micro branching piece.

Little Froggie: life is filled with moments, some boring, some angry, some sad... and it's all about picking the right one to continue on an interesting path. Or you might end up emptying your savings for costly medicine...
Really cute! Some endings give me chuckles!

Survive or Die: it is usually not recommended to explore an empty home by yourself, or at all, that is if you want to avoid meeting scary monsters. But the true moral of the story is that sharing a meal helps calming everyone down, and look at things more rationally.
This one threw a curveball or two to get to the end. Good job on the misdirection!

The Dark One: with this ominous title, I sort of expected an unreliable narrator, and for many of the side/wrong paths, he indeed was! Leading you astray... Trust your friends, but trust yourself too!
Nice use of branching here too, twists, and paths to good endings.

I really enjoyed what the group had done at the last SpringThing, and I was really glad to see them submitting this year again. It is really lovely to see younger generations taking a crack at IF and creating even the smallest thing. I hope we get to see submission from the group next year, and all the years after that. And I hope the singular authors will continue to make games too!

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A wood of forking paths, May 16, 2024
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2024

Theme and variation is a solid approach for an anthology, and Deep Dark Wood – a collation of seven small Twine games written by Slovakian students ranging from six to thirteen years old – picks a classic for its hook: as the title says, each of the heptad sees the player lost in a spooky forest and facing a variety of dangers. There are structural similarities too, as they all implement Time Cave or gauntlet structures with plenty of deaths and bad endings lurking to claim the unwary; generally there’s not much by way of cluing to differentiate the safe from the dangerous paths, but fortunately the always-available undo button and the games’ short lengths make exploration painless (in fact some of the bad endings are as much if not more fun than the successful ones).

The fact that there are so many similarities here, though, helps throw into sharper relief the differences in approach taken by the various authors – which largely turn on writing style and implementation of the choice framework. So I’ll provide some quick thoughts on each of the seven in turn, focusing on those elements:

Back to the City, by David (8)

The most immediately engaging thing about Back to the City is its enthusiasm: almost every choice ends with an exclamation point. This upbeat vibe extends to the narrative as well, as this is the rare Deep Dark Wood that doesn’t threaten the player with peril. Per the title, all roads eventually lead back home, but the player’s able to explore as they desire, perhaps having fun at a Christmas Eve party or helping a lost horse get back to the farm. None of these incidents are sketched in too much detail, but they effectively move the story along and are introduced and resolved in a satisfying fashion, lending the longest playthrough a bit of a picaresque vibe (the shortest playthrough traverses only three links and isn’t nearly as satisfying). It’s a gentle, slight game, and I can’t help but suspect that it was put first in the collection to ease the player into the more dangerous woods to come… (OK, it’s also first alphabetically).

Dark Dream, by Baily’s Sisters (11)

Dark Dream shares the exclamation-point-at-the-end-of-the-choices trick with Back to the City, but is a much more challenging story to navigate. Per the dream theme, the forest-and-cabin setting this time boasts surreal touches – you can find your headlong flight through the wood interrupted by running straight into a fox’s mouth, and there’s one branch that leans into the way absurd details can pile up in dreams:

"Finally, you find a doctor that is also a dog. He gives you pills and you take them.

"You feel great but you are lost. The dog asks you if you have money. You have some."

Structurally, Dark Dream is more of a Time Cave, with different decisions in the opening leading to distinct, nonoverlapping episodes that all quickly lead to an ending. Again the game leans into its themes, because in each ending you’ll eventually wake up – but per the conventions of the horror genre, there’s always a twist where whatever happened to you in the dream will recur when you’re awake. Sometimes this can be as subtle as a bad taste in your mouth if you finished the dream gorging yourself on bear meat, but it can also go in hilariously metaphysical directions too, as in the various endings where you wake up only to find yourself dead. Another nice bit of craft is that the final passage is always introduced with an ellipsis, creating drama about what exactly is going to happen when you find yourself in your bed, which adds to the punch-line nature of the endings and makes the bad ones just as much fun as the good ones.

Halloween, by Hailey and Milka (11)

Halloween also leans into the surreal, though doesn’t adopt anything as straightforward as the “it was all a dream” explanation from the previous game. Instead, you might enter a creepy cabin, get bitten by an evil doll, and then find yourself whisked to the bottom of a lake. As a result, it plays like a roller-coaster ride – you don’t know where you’re going to go, but you can trust that it will be entertaining. My favorite vignette is the one where you wake up from a dream (okay, some of the bizarre branches do use this cliché, but not all of them) only to find that your fingers have vanished, and your only choices are to pray to Jesus or try to go back to sleep. There’s also one where you find a duck and then get abducted by aliens – it’s zany, in other words, though there’s another branch that mixes in a note of social realism by telling you that your parents have recently gotten divorced, which is “a usual thing in Halloween stories”.

Once again the approach to endings is a highlight – the authors are aware that much of the draw of a game like this is collecting the different endings, so they judge each as good or bad, let you know whether you’ve been awarded any trophies (these are numbered, but no explanation of the numbering is provided, which paradoxically made me more excited to try to collect them all), and then let you click one final link for good measure – though that just confirms that the story is over and you can stop clicking.

IXI in the Forest, by Leontine (6)

IXI in the Forest distinguishes itself less by its plot – once again there’s a child lost in the woods, who can try to befriend and/or flee from a variety of animals, with a gauntlet structure funneling the player to the best ending, where IXI, a bird, and a rabbit enjoy a picnic together – than its approach to choices. Rather than playing as IXI, you function as a co-narrator, deciding what outcome for each particular small vignette to pursue: for example, when IXI meets a doe who turns out to be dangerous, your choices are either “let IXI escape” or “let IXI not escape.” This adds a bit of distance to the player’s engagement with IXI – who isn’t characterized in any notable way – but also pushes the player to think about the choices differently, looking not for the most advantageous strategy but for which option might lead to the most interesting narrative.

Little Frogie, by Natalie (12)

Little Frogie is the game in the anthology that departs the most from the walk-through-the-spooky-forest vibe – there’s one branch where the eponymous frog gets restless and decides to leave their cabin, with a trip to the woods being one of the options, but other than that they’re just going about their froggy business: making a meal, drawing a picture, taking a bath. Despite this, Little Frogie has a strict gauntlet structure, with only one correct path allowing you to make it through each episode in turn and get to the best ending. As with other the other games, though, it takes the sting out of the bad endings with a bit of humor: starving to death will elicit a wry “a sad moment”, while more successful ones might be judged “most adventurous moments”. It also provides some judicious hints to help the player navigate some of the trickier choices, like reminding you that it’s a hot day outside when you’re picking the temperature for your bath. The final set of choices – those ones allowing you to leave the cabin – feel like a bit of a shift from the rest of the game; beyond leaving the cozy setting of the frog’s hidey-hole, they also amp up the danger, which makes for some heightened drama in a story that could have otherwise petered out in a low-key fashion.

Survive or Die, by Unicorn Sisters (13)

Survive or Die takes us back to the core of the Deep Dark Wood theme by modeling itself on a horror movie: you’re lost in the forest in the middle of a storm, in need of shelter, when you stumble across an old house… There’s of course a monster, and danger lurking everywhere, but what’s clever about Survive or Die is that succeeding requires you to embrace genre tropes. You can pick whether you’re by yourself or with friends, for example, and of course the movie is more fun with other people around. Similarly, when there’s a loud noise you’re prodded to ask whether they heard the scary sound too. It all leads up to an entertaining twist ending, a perfect capstone for this self-aware genre exercise.

The Dark One, by Mushroom (13)

The anthology closes as it began, with a relatively friendlier entry. There’s still quite a lot of danger, don’t get me wrong – structurally, this is a combination gauntlet and Time Cave so there are quite a lot of ways to reach a bad end, including monsters and poison. But in addition to the welcome return of choices mostly punctuated with exclamation points, the narrative voice is also companionable, providing positive reassurance like “I like your way of thinking” when you make a wise decision and commiserating with you when things don’t quite go your way. After the often-solitary escapades of the prior six games, it’s nice to have a friend along on the adventure, and the game recognizes that this is one of its key draws: one of the ways to fail is to refuse to trust the narrator. And being told “I’m so happy for you, my dear friend!” brings an extra warmth to the best ending.

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Seeing the Forest AND the Trees, May 12, 2024
by JJ McC
Related reviews: Spring Thing 24

Adapted from a SpringThing24 Review

Played: 4/16/24
Playtime: 25min, lots of exploring the endings

I was introduced (as was, I believe, the world) to this amazing corner of IF during last year’s Thing. An Anthology of micro games, built around a common theme as an academic challenge, authored by young first-timers. The fact that this continues to exist in Year of Our Lord 2024 gives me hope for the future. My love for this effort has only deepened over time, and going forward its absence would cast a shadow over the Spring Thing Back Garden. Conversely, should we meet again next year, I fear I may have to ask it to marry me. My wife will be, understandably, nonplussed.

As last year, I will highlight for each entry a marketing blurb for the work, what was great about it, what could be learned from it, and what was notable about it, creatively.

Back to The City by David and his Mom
Blurb “How can you party when Horse needs your help?”
Great I loved the branching exploration possibilities, and the options to sort through each one.
Learning The power of creating and rewarding player choices
Notable A nice instance of multiple solutions to a problem!

Dark Dream by the Baily’s Sisters
Blurb “You were warned against late night snacks…”
Great A hilarious branching story of wildly unexpected consequences.
Learning The less sense something makes, often the funnier it is.
Notable No more coffee for me.

Halloween by Hailey and Milka
Blurb “Anything can happen on Halloween”
Great Range of good-to-bad endings was cool
Learning Collectible endings a great way to keep folks playing
Notable Liked the post-ending sting

IXI in the Forest by Leontine
Blurb “Some animals are not your friend”
Great Very different paths, and choices for IXI’s friend
Learning (Spoiler - click to show)does are meaner than you think
Notable Lack of kindness has consequences

Little Frogie by Natalie
Blurb “Dinner Plans Matter, Little Frog!”
Great Really liked the “A(n) X Moment” sting on the endings
Learning Longer paths are rewarding, but short paths can be really funny
Notable Rich choice space!

Survive or Die by Unicorn Sisters
Blurb “‘The Power of Friendship’ is more than a saying…”
Great Loved that the best ending was still unnerving
Learning Don’t split up. Ever.
Notable Loved the long arc of survival, lots of tension! (and deaths)

The Dark One by Mushroom
Blurb “Do you know the difference between good and bad advice?”
Great Very fun third-wall breaking between game and player
Learning There is power to short paragraphs
Notable Laughed out loud at ((Spoiler - click to show)you got killed by a serious level of distrust in combination with boredom).

Mystery, Inc: The Whole Gang!
Vibe: Raw Creativity
Polish: Textured
Gimme the Wheel! : I am on record as wishing for a wraparound game with Crypt-Keeper like host to these affairs, and refuse to give up on that dream. Maybe next year.

Polish scale: Gleaming, Smooth, Textured, Rough, Distressed
Gimme the Wheel: What I would do next, if it were my project.

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