Unforgiving - A Northern Hymn is a first-person horror game similar to games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Outlast. The player takes the role of an unnamed Swedish woman who is stuck in an isolated forest in Sweden with her brother, Lukas. They must explore the mysterious woods, avoid enemy creatures, and solve puzzles to progress. The developer, Angry Demon Studio, used many elements of Swedish mythology in designing the creatures and lore of the game.
Most of the game revolves around exploration, either through linear areas or in more open areas. At times, minor puzzles can block progress to the next area, requiring a certain item to be found or manipulation of a mechanism to proceed. Players can use a limited supply of matches to both light up their surroundings and solve certain puzzles. Sometimes, the player will be pursued by one of the game’s creatures. As the player cannot fight these creatures, they must avoid them or hide to prevent death.
The game’s most unique mechanic is playing a magical harp. This harp has 6 notes that correspond to particular Norse runes. Sometimes, the game will display a string of these runes in the environment and the player will have to play them on the harp. There are also two “songs” that are represented by special symbols--playing these songs when near the corresponding symbol will activate it. The songs can be played manually or automatically by selecting them on the harp. The game does not pause when playing the harp, so the player must be wary of danger from enemies when doing so.