This is a spoiler-free review
So I am pretty notorious for not finishing longer, story games because I don’t have the time (major sad face) but Night in the Woods is one of the few that I have completed from start to finish and I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about this game. So here is my review!
To do a real quick overview of what Night in the Woods, developed by Alec Holowka, Scott Benson, and Bethany Hockenberry, is about, you play as Mae, a 20-year-old that dropped out of college and is returning to her small hometown. Your return comes with a lot of memories from the past, both good and horrible, as well as learning how to adjust back into your home that isn’t quite home anymore. If you want a more in-depth explanation of the game, I recommend reading my first look at it, as I give more details of how the game’s story is set up.
Night in the Woods has a lot of layers and gets very, very deep and dark. From the start you see how a small town begins to fall apart of small businesses can’t stay open, the citizens can’t keep good jobs, and the overall town is struggling to stay afloat. If you have ever lived in a small town, like I have, then this hits home really hard. This game perfectly demonstrates the struggles of small-town America, and in a way where an air of mystery haunts the streets of the town and just happens to be following Mae.
We get teased about Mae’s dark past in this town through brief mentions of it from her family and friends and neighbors. Mae has been through something difficult, and it has kept following her for long after it happened, through college, and is haunting her as she returns. Without giving away what happened, I can say that Mae struggles with her mental health and hasn’t learned how to cope with her issues and it is affecting her life. This mental health storyline is incredibly well-done as it so excellently demonstrates how hard it is to figure out what is wrong when you are young and naive to these problems. And what’s incredible is how the devs do this storyline, as it is both the featured story and an underlying story to a bigger issue at hand.
Aside from the dark mystery that is haunting Possum Springs, one of my most favorite parts of this game is the characterizations. There are so many great personalities and stories with individual characters, including outside the main characters. And a lot of these characters we know in our real lives. There is Mae, the mentally unwell college dropout. Then Bea, the former best friend who was trapped in town instead of going to college and resents Mae for being able to leave. Gregg the best friend who enjoys crimes and general shenanigans who hasn’t truly grown up yet. Mae has her concerned parents, who care a lot about her and are struggling to survive in this falling town. There are so many characters!!
What is great about the characters is that, depending on who you spend your time with can change how your game turns out and what scenes you get. Choosing to spend more time with Bea will give you a different outcome than if you spend more time with Gregg. And this counts for smaller characters in the story, such as Lori and Germ. “Wait who is Lori?! Germ?!” Well, you have to find them to learn more. Night in the Woods is a choose your own adventure that rewards you for exploring and meeting people, but it refuses to let you get trapped in trying to do everything. You will lose opportunities as you make decisions, so how you play can have different outcomes than how I played. And I love that.
I could go on for an eternity about how Night in the Woods is a fantastic game. You don’t need to be a hardcore gamer to enjoy it and learn from the story. And if you are a hardcore gamer, you can still enjoy it. It has a lot to offer as you learn about the people and places and situation, and your choices create realistic changes to your journey, as similar choices in real life would have similar effects. Night in the Woods gives the best of both dark and dramatic mystery and realistic and in-depth representations of mental health and small-town life. If I only had three words to explain my thoughts on Night in the Woods, they would be ” It’s So Good!”
What games have blown your mind with their greatness? Comment below to let me know.