Title: Night in the Woods
Available On: PC, PlayStation 4
Developer: Infinite Fall
Genre: Adventure, Indie
Official Site: Night in the Woods
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Where To Buy It: Steam, PlayStation Store ($19.99)
Growing up is not easy and sometimes, let’s be honest, it sucks. As if the changes we personally make as we grow aren’t hard enough to deal with, the changes that those around go through can almost affect us even more. This is just one of the many things, like the existence of God and what it means to be human, that Night in the Woods tackles with its (mostly) light-hearted dialogue, quirky characters, and colorful art style. While the title definitely takes some surprising turns, overall, Night in the Woods is a relatable experience that all twenty-somethings have gone through at some point in their lives.
Night in the Woods focuses on our kind-of-sorta delinquent cat female protagonist, Mae. She is returning to her childhood home of Possum Springs after dropping out of college under some somewhat mysterious circumstances. From there, it’s kind of hard to say exactly what the plot of the game is. Mostly, you follow Mae on her everyday adventures as you attempt to reconnect with some old friends from the neighborhood. While there is a ton of reading, these conversations with your friends and neighbors are really where the game shines. Most of the side characters show interesting development that continues to build until the end of the game. This is something I wish I could say about our main character Mae. Even towards the almost insane climax of the game, Mae continues to ignore change and clings to her selfish ways. After everything that she and her group of friends go through, it is really disappointing to see how little she changed.
However, despite the lack of character development in our lead, the team behind Night in the Woods did an excellent job of keeping the game light while tackling some heavier subject matter. And they every factor at their disposal to do this. First, the game is just fun to play. There are tons of people to talk to and places to see in Possum Springs that will open up more for you to do. While the environments are somewhat limited, it is fun to find new (and slightly illegal) ways around town. The gameplay is broken up nicely by little mini games, like band practice, that keeps it from feeling too much like a visual novel. While it is completely possible to play through the game by only doing the bare minimum, I highly encourage you to seek out and experience everything this incredibly written game has to offer.
Aside from the clever writing and fun gameplay options, there is also quite a bit of replayability to the game. As you go through Mae’s everyday life, you make choices as to who you want to hang out with and what you want to do with them. Therefore, you’re able to go back through and spend the days with other friends. Honestly, you could experience a whole other Night in the Woods than I did while I was reviewing the title. The attention to detail is what really pushes this experience over the edge, and I’d love to play it again just to see what I must have missed. For example, as you explore the town and the day’s progress you will pass a pregnant character and she will eventually have her child and become pregnant again. And I love to see things like that in a game.
My main advice I would give anyone is to just be patient with Night in the Woods. There were quite a few times while I was playing the game that I was waiting for the actual game to start. Then, it will seem like things are about to really get started and then the game will back off of the central plot. I’m fine with a story taking its time to develop, but sometimes it just felt like killing time. A little shorter experience would have allowed for the game to make its point without feeling like things were starting to drag a bit.
All in all, Night in the Woods is a relatable, quirky experience that really just needs to be experienced to be understood. There’s a reason this indie game took the gaming community by storm when it was released a few months back and will continue to be loved and enjoyed in the future.
Verdict: Night in the Woods is a unique, relatable experience with diverse characters, fun art style, clever writing, and lots to discover and interact with. The attention to detail in the game really sets it over the edge. With my only complaint being a few pacing issues and a certain lack of character development, Night in the Woods is an experience that I would suggest to anyone.
- Relatable, diverse characters
- Fun mini-games
- Unique art style
- Encourages exploration
- Lack of development in the main character