Studio behind horror cult classic Darkwood release a new game and announce they're taking a break from game development

Darkwood title
(Image credit: Acid Wizard Studio)

What you need to know

  • Acid Wizard Studio released Darkwood in 2017 to critical and commercial success, despite intentionally releasing the title to The Pirate Bay alongside its paid launch.
  • The development team has continued to refine the game, releasing a 1.4 Update in recent months.
  • The team has also recently released Soccer Kids, their next game, though it is still in an alpha state.
  • Acid Wizard Studio announced they would be taking a hiatus from game development and "may return in 5-10 years when we get our shit together" following the 1.4 update for Darkwood and alpha launch of Soccer Kids.

Acid Wizard Studio initially released their debut game, Darkwood, to Early Access on Steam in 2014 and then gradually saw the game morph into its full release version by 2017. Darkwood was a critical and commercial success despite the Polish dev team's unconventional marketing strategy to release it for free on the torrent site The Pirate Bay. The game went on to sell 1.5 million copies. Darkwood's development was a 5-year labor of love for Acid Wizard, however, and they ended up going on hiatus for most of 2018.

Following the release of Darkwood Acid Wizard Studios began working on a few other follow up projects, but none of them were quite a good fit for what the team wanted to release next. According to a post from Acid Wizard Studios on Imgur one follow-up project was made entirely of placeholder art and was an experimental and terrifying combination of asynchronous online gameplay and fourth wall breaking horror that was set in the 80s. Another project centered on the story of a political prisoner in Eastern Europe in the 80s where the player had the skill to draw tattoos on fellow inmates.

The third project included Soccer Kids, a title set in 1980s Poland that was colorful and over the top as it was seen through the eyes of a mathematically inclined child prodigy. Production on a game about children playing soccer was surprisingly more difficult than the team anticipated, and Acid Wizard Studio partnered with QED Software to use a proprietary tech to develop merciless AI children who will stop at nothing to win a good old-fashioned match of Soccer. 

By the end of June 2023, the studio was ready to release the playable alpha version of Soccer Kids and celebrated the announcement with an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit. The release of the alpha version of Soccer Kids is currently rated Very Positive on Steam, with Acid Wizard Studio having shared in a tweet that there had been excellent feedback for the game that led to additional patches. However, they were planning to turn their attention to the 1.4 update for Darkwood.

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This shift was only part of a long thread of tweets about the state of the studio, as Acid Wizard announced a formal hiatus for the foreseeable future by the second tweet. Despite efforts to set down ground rules for the studio that were often not adhered to, the team felt they were unable to create a work environment that was not destructive to their personal lives.

The future is not completely bleak for Acid Wizard Studio, as the team followed up the hiatus announcement by stating that they were hoping to possibly return in 5-10 years "when we get our shit together." The team hopes for their games to continue on in their absence and have even taken steps to shop around a potential sequel for Darkwood to other developers, as well as continued work on Soccer Kids.

Cole Martin

Cole is the resident Call of Duty know-it-all and indie game enthusiast for Windows Central. She's a lifelong artist with two decades of experience in digital painting, and she will happily talk your ear off about budget pen displays.