• Gamer's Gazette Review - Night in the Woods

    Gamer's Gazette Issue XXXV

    Night in the Woods

    Here, some lovely music!

    Night in the Woods is a story-driven adventure game focussed around the young Mae Borowski and her return to her hometown of Possum Springs. Mae has been away for two years and is returning after leaving college; her friends have jobs now, and her parents have economic issues. The small town has changed drastically since she left, yet stayed the same. Stores are closing, new stores are moving in. Still, the abandoned building where Mae and her friends keep all their band equipment is untouched after all those years away.

    Now the first thing you may notice when looking at Night in the Woods is that all the characters are anthropomorphic animals, that is animals with human characteristics. Mae is a cat living with her cat parents and they have a pet bird who is just a regular bird. Itís all very Disney, but as long as you donít really question the premise, it works!

    The game starts off with Mae rediscovering and reconnecting with her old friends; Gregg works at the local shop now, but he still likes to do crimes when given the opportunity. Bea is taking care of her fatherís business, but itís taking up all her time and effort, and sheís quite unhappy.

    Crimes? Crimes.

    Unhappiness is quite a common theme in Night in the Woods, as the old is replaced by the new, and the remnants of the old donít really know what to do with themselves. There are sad stories all over the place, like the homeless man Bruce who lives behind the church, the pastor Kate who is trying to find him a place in Possum Springs and the local council who donít really want Bruce anywhere near them or their town.

    There are also happy stories, however, or at least more positive ones. Mae can befriend a girl called Lori M, who wants to make movies. Theyíll talk about this and that, go down to the railroad together, figuring life out as they go along. Alongside the depression, there is also genuine laugh out loud moments, where the expertly written dialogue makes you chuckle, giggle of favourite variant thereof.

    The dialogue is funny consistently enough that it might be the funniest game released 2017.

    The game is structured into days and activities. You start off each day waking up at your parentís house, and from there itís usually pretty free as to where you go. Will you play some Demontower on your computer, run straight to Bea at the Olí Pickaxe, or explore the tunnel system with Maeís dadís old work buddy.

    Every day youíll run outside, go up the street talking to the people that interest you. Every day will bring new dialogues, new stories and often new characters, to the point where if you want to experience everything, you really have to explore the city properly every day. Iíve played this game two and a half times now, and on my latest playthrough I discovered entire rooms I had never seen before.

    There is an inherent joy to finding the path to the electric lines, and jumping around up there.

    After you have done your fair share of exploring, your choices will most often boil down to two: go hang out with Gregg, or go hang out with Bea. Depending on what you choose, you will get a different scenario, with the Gregg activities often circling around minor crimes, like breaking into abandoned shops or having a knife-fight in the woods. Beaís, on the other hand, are usually more down to earth, like planning a dinner or visiting the cemetery.

    Each of these activities will often involve a semi unique minigame, like finding (or making up) star signs with Greggís boyfriend Angus, or shoplifting at the mall with Bea. After a long day of exploring, slacking, crimes and the occasional band practice, Mae will find her way back home for some TV and bad dreams. In the bad dreams you will usually try to find four musicians and then talk to an enormous god-like animal, at which point you wake up again and the cycle repeats.

    After completing activities Mae will draw a picture in her notebook, allowing you to remember old memories, and try to figure out which stories you might have missed. Thereís a strange emptiness in the middle of one of Greggís pages, I wonder if I missed a dialogue, or if it will get filled in tomorrow? There is only one way to find out, and then another day has gone and a new has started.

    Gregg rulz ok.

    The gameís artstyle is obviously distinct, but also utterly beautiful. Every character is unique, and it is always a joy to just walk through town, looking at the environments. My vocabulary for describing the artstyle is sorely lacking, but just look at the screenshots in this review, and let your imagination do the rest.

    While there is no voice acting, apart from the occasional grunt, the sound design is still magnificent; there are different songs for every part of town, every scene has its own styling and theme and each and every one of them is simply brilliant. As if that were not enough, there is a mini game themed around brand practice, where you get to play bass to some truly excellent songs, created originally for the game. The mini-game is repeatable ad nauseum as of the Weird Autumn version of the game, so you can play ďDie Anywhere ElseĒ for as long as you want.

    It's basically Guitarr Hero with a bass, but the music is excellent, so no complaints from me!

    Night in the Woods is an amazing experience, not just because the story and characters are exceptionally well crafted, but because of how relatable everything is. Not everyone will recognise themselves in the main character Mae; she is quite lazy and a bit unlikeable. However, every person you interact with has such a distinct personality it is hard not to find someone, somewhere that reminds you of yourself or someone you know.

    Now, the story does go on on a somewhat strange note towards the end of the game, and the ending may not satisfy everyone, but after 10-15 hours of excellent writing, amazing music and stunning visuals I was left with nothing but regret that I could not spend a little more time in Possum Springs, and joy that I had had as much time as I did with Gregg, Angus and Bea.

    Genuinely Amazing

    Night in the Woods is available on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Alwyn's Avatar
      Alwyn -
      Great review! This does sound very enjoyable, with its funny dialogue and intriguing features (such as Demontower, exploring the tunnels, the different mini-games and Mae's notebook).
    1. Greek strategos's Avatar
      Greek strategos -
      Thanks for the review mate. I really enjoyed it. I'll make sure to check the game.

    1. Gigantus's Avatar
      Gigantus -
      Looks intriguing - thanks.