Video game stories are routinely criticized as shallow and simply a MacGuffin in order to get you from point A to point B. Even visual novels can fail in this respect, so when a game comes along that boasts a compelling character study along with a multilayered plot, it certainly gets my attention.
Mae Borowski comes home from college under mysterious circumstances and as she tries to connect to her former life and friends something supernatural rears its ugly head. And thus begins Night in the Woods…
The gameplay in Night in the Woods offers a surprising bit of variety. Most of the game consists of walking left and right through town on a 2D plane and interacting with other townspeople. Sometimes you will have multiple choices when answering the towns NPC’s, and these interactions are what will bring out the bulk of the story, so make sure you talk to everyone. You will also be doing some exploring and the occasional bit of platforming. That being said, there are mini games of sorts to play through as you progress. There is also a rougelike game called Demontower that could have practically its own game with multiple levels.
The is a music rhythm game based about Mae playing guitar, and plays like most rhythm games with notes mapped to A,B, X, and Y. Controls are very intuitive and get the job done well. Left stick moves Mae, B jumps, Y interacts with people and items. X pulls up your journal and holding X saves your game.
Everything here looks like it was expertly crafted with construction paper. This artistic choice gives the game a unique look which is very welcome when most indies seem to be stuck on the somewhat tired pixel art. The game animates very well and everything runs pretty smoothly (aside from a few framerate drops) for the most part on the Nintendo Switch. I want to especially point out the character designs as everyone is some kind of animal. The choice of animal can give you insight into a given character and I thought it was brilliant.
The music is especially well done here, from Mae’s band tracks to the incidental tunes that play as you explore her life. The sounds effects are also well realized and add to the creepy ambiance of Possum Springs. All of the sound design comes together in a marvelous way and really immerses you in the game.
Night in the Woods has a lot of variety in your tasks and there is plenty to enjoy and explore in this sleepy little town. Right off the bat you are wondering why Mae left college, then add in the truth about what exactly Mae is hiding and you have a compelling narrative that will certainly keep you playing.
Mae herself can be a bit of a polarizing character, but whether you relate to her or think she is annoying as hell almost serves as a Rorschach test to tell you your personality traits.
The game looks and plays great and is very engrossing. The entire package comes together as well as any ‘coming of age’ movie about life moving on without you. I really can’t recommend this Night in the Woods enough!
- Love her or hate her; Mae is a fully fleshed out character
- Game is animated beautifully
- There is a lot of variety to gameplay
- Lots of content with included Weird Autumn add-on and two preludes included
- Load times are surprisingly longer here than other systems
Disclaimer: A digital copy of the game was provided by Finji for review purposes.