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After its successful Kickstarter back in the Fall of 2013, Night in the Woods has finally been released! I don’t know about you, but this game was one of my most eagerly awaited titles of 2017. And now the wait is over. Within 30 minutes of playing I laughed, cried, and played some terrible bass. Two hours later, I was still laughing, crying, and playing terrible base. So does Night in the Woods deliver? You bet your bottom dollar it does.
In case you’ve been living under an indie game rock, Night in the Woods is about a 20 year old cat named Mae, who dropped out of college and moved back home. Home for Mae is the rundown town of Possum Springs, where unemployment is high and the opportunities to leave are low. Before you ask, yes, in this game cats go to college. Also alligators run a hardware store, and the town still has video rental place. Pretty unbelievable, yet so totally believable thanks to the games amazing art and writing. Seriously, look at that trailer above and tell me this game isn’t gorgeous. And for those of you with a dark dry sense of humor like myself, you’re in luck. This game is no Animal Crossing.
It’s always hard writing game reviews about narrative games, especially when they’re good. Right now I just want to tell you all the things, but obviously I’d be spoiling everything. Not fun. So all I’m going to say is that this game deals with some heavy topics. I’m talking long-term unemployment, cancer, depression, alcoholism, you name it. And it deals with them very well. Something I did not expect from a game about anthropomorphic animals. Thankfully, the game balances these topics with humor. Lots of humor. This game is hilarious. Which means when those dark moments come, they pack an interesting punch.
Also, there are porn jokes in this game, so it’s really not for children.
Gameplay-wise, Night in the Woods in a 2D side-scrolling adventure game. You’ll be spending most of your time walking around your home town talking its residents and your friends. However, the game does a good job of sprinkling in different elements of gameplay. Examples include shoplifting, playing the bass, eating pizza, and getting drunk. Unlike other narrative games that some call “walking simulators,” NITW truly makes you feel as if your interacting with the world.
Some of these added gameplay elements are where the game sometimes feels a bit weak though. So the bass mini-game plays like every other rhythm game out there, in that you have to press the numbers 1-4 on your keyboard when the number lines up with the beat. However it gets a little frustrating (on PC at least), because using those buttons crams my fingers together. Using the arrow buttons might have felt a bit more intuitive. Also the platforming parts can be a bit tricky, because it’s sometimes hard to tell what you can and cannot jump on. None of these minor problems should deter you from playing NITW though. Overall the gameplay is solid, and you’ll be so drawn into the world you might not even notice.
Another thing to know about Night in the Woods is that there are also two FREE supplemental games. So if you’re unsure about whether you would like NITW, I highly recommend playing them. The first is The Longest Night, which actually introduces you to Mae and her crew. They are finding constellations in the stars, while having a good chat. The dialogue is just as zingy as in NITW, and you also get a feel for how you make dialogue choices in the main game. The second supplemental game (and my favorite of the two) is Lost Constellation, a folktale from the world of NITW. You play an as Adina, an alligator astronomer, while she explores the wintry woods. It’s a 2D side-scroller with exploration and little puzzles thrown in, much like NITW. Also much like NITW, Lost Constellation has a strange darkness to it that balances itself with humor.
In conclusion, the wait and delays of Night in the Woods was totally worth it. You can pick up this dark and socially aware game on Steam, Itch.io, and at the PlayStation Store for $19.99.