It is a side-scrolling, single-player adventure game that is anchored on its storyline. The earnest writing allows the game to transition smoothly from dry humor and light-hearted satire to one of the most startling sad themes you will see in a game.
Story: The story follows Margaret “Mae” Borowski, a 20-year-old college dropout who has gone back to her hometown of Possum Springs. The town has been struck by the closure of coal mines and a stagnating economy. She meets with her old friends who have quirky personalities and finds that one of her old friends has disappeared. Mae begins to have strange dreams and her mental health deteriorates. She begins to disassociate with her loved ones and faces consequences. Her family also begins to struggle economically, but a mysterious group of cloaked people that chased after her and her friends when they encountered them keeps her curious. She ventures out in the woods to find them again and begins to unravel the dark history of the town and herself.
Play Style: A side-scrolling game filled with rewarding conversations that help you develop your own back-story, Night in the Woods’ gameplay is quite simple. You control Mae and help her unravel the story of Possum Springs. Dialogues are held with various characters in the game that are kept fresh, natural, and modern. Not only do you hold conversations with citizens within the town, but the mystery that goes on in the backwoods further emphasizes the adventurous theme of the game. The experience moves quickly from light-hearted conversations to a frightening revelation of modern adult life’s anxiety. There is not much action going on in the game, but the story itself would be enough to keep you hooked and see the whole game through.
Audience: Although the cute artwork may seem very appealing, Night in the Woods may not be the best game for children who have not been exposed to the complexities of rural American middle-class struggles. The game’s deep exploration of its adult subject matter makes it more appealing to gamers who are aware of the structures of society and have some understanding of how economic hardships affect the lives of people. College students in particular would love this game because of its dark yet smoothly-conveyed message and story. If you are sensitive to depressive themes in media, however, we would not suggest you to play this game, no matter how appealing the cute cat character may look.
Platforms: Night in the Woods is available on a variety of platforms including macOS, Linux, PlayStation4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android.
Verdict: With a focus on Mae’s refusal to grow up and a realistic exploration of emotional and economic insecurity, the developers of this game have really outdone themselves. The struggles of middle-class Americans is represented beautifully in the game, making it a very thoughtful experience. The tone, character development, and suspense will keep you hooked on the game. The excellent understanding of the subject matter is the selling point for Night in the Woods, and we recommend you to have this game in your collection for its uniqueness.