Review of Night in the Woods

nightinthewoods

After funding several projects on Kickstarter, which never saw the light of day, I have given up on donating cash to that company. Crowd funding doesn’t always end in a disaster though. To their credit some people, who requested financial aid on that site, did make good on their promises – be it whipping up a batch of potato salad or developing quality software. One of the video game successes that spawned from Kickstarter is Night in the Woods from Infinite Fall. It’s a title that several of my readers have recommended to me in the past. My followers have great taste (they like my blog after all) so I heeded their words and decided to check the game out.

OVERVIEW

Mae Borowski, a twenty-year-old feline, is the protagonist of Night in the Woods. When the game begins Mae returns home in disgrace, after dropping out of college. In this narrative heavy adventure game players decide whom the young cat girl should hang out with on a daily basis. Mae’s chums include a gothic alligator, a homosexual teddy (I guess he is a “bear” in more ways than one) and a foxy delinquent. Just as Mae begins to reacclimatize to life in Possum Springs she comes across a severed arm. The gruesome discovery may be linked to a phantom kidnapper that she spots a few days later. Finding out who is responsible for these crimes will involve spending a night in the woods.

Anyone who watches Night in the Woods’ trailer may mistaken this game for a platformer, due to the footage of Mae leaping across power lines. Gameplay wise however I would liken this title to Oxenfree, as most of my playthrough involved conversing with NPCs. That’s actually more enjoyable than it sounds because the characters you interact with are written so well. Every now and then the chatter is interrupted by mini-games, which vary in quality. As someone who sucks at rhythm games I can’t say that the band practice segments, which play like Guitar Hero, appealed to me. On the flip side I liked the friendly knife fight and the sequence were you squirt mall shoppers with a fish-head fountain. Poor customers. Getting soaked by a fishy decoration must be a pain in the bass.

VERDICT

My rating for Night in the Woods is a three and a half out of five. I had a grand time playing through the eight-hour story and can see why so many critics showered the game with praise last year. Although I don’t share Mae’s passion for vandalism/shoplifting, she is a character I can relate to. Just like her, I have had to deal with the awkwardness of dealing with relatives after an unsuccessful stint in higher education. We both have also suffered the embarrassment of acting like fools, during social events, after consuming one too many brews. In my defence though, it takes more than three watered down beers to make me vomit up my tacos.

I can highly recommend Night in the Woods, unless you are one of those console owners who values gameplay over story. One complaint that can be levied against Night in the Woods is that traditional video game mechanics take a backseat to its witty banter, excellent soundtrack and stylish visuals. An argument could be made that Night in the Woods would work better as a cartoon series. It’s script, which should resonate with young adults and features weird dream sequences, reminds me of the animation MTV would put out back in the nineties. Ah, how I miss those days. Someone should build a time machine so I can journey back to that decade. If you are up to task start a Kickstarter and I will gladly pledge towards your DeLorean/Police Box construction efforts.

32 thoughts on “Review of Night in the Woods

  1. This has been on my radar for a while since I watched Commander Holly play the beginning of it on YouTube. I’m a big visual novel kind of guy, so even if the gameplay takes a back seat to the story, I’m pretty sure I’ll really enjoy this one. Glad to hear you enjoyed it! I also miss the days of MTV animation – Daria rewatch?

    • Daria is the best. Back when I was a teenager my personality was similar to hers. I dug the dry humor and sarcastic quips, even if the jokes are very different to Beavis & Butthead (the show the character started life in.)

  2. Glad you liked it. I wasn’t sure what the game was about when I played, and yeah maybe it could’ve used a bit more actual gameplay but I found the story to be a lot more poignant and mature than I was expecting.

    I think this game could’ve really used voice acting to help push the emotions more. Maybe that’s where your animated series idea could come in!

    • Thank you for recommending the game in my recent Top Five post. Night in the Woods ended up being a very good addition to my PS4 collection. Voice acting would have been nice, but I guess a Kickstarter game wouldn’t have the budget to hire good actors. Given the choice I prefer to read over listening to wooden performances.

      • That’s a good point. I didn’t even realize this was a Kickstarter game. Pretty successful then, considering all the major outlets talked about it.

  3. I really like the way this game looks from a visual point of view. It has pretty unique visuals if I am being honest. It’s great to see how there are certainly quite a number of success stories from Kickstarter. Glad to read you enjoyed the game so much 😊😊

    • Kickstarter can be hit or miss when it comes to video games. I hear the platform has a better record when it comes to funding board games. Night in the Woods certainly has a distinct look. The artist who worked on this title proves that you don’t need state of the art graphics to produce eye catching visuals.

  4. Eyyyyyyy!!! You played one of my favorite adventure games in recent memory! I’m glad you enjoyed it too! I find this game to be utterly charming with the amount of time and effort put in to make it feel so realistic. I never thought a bunch of cartoon animals would feel like true young adults facing the fears and weight of their futures ahead of them. I think my favorite mini-game was by far the rouge-like Demon Tower. It plays so smoothly and really gives the player a heck of challenge. Also….crimes.

    • Demon Tower is cool. Pretty much a game within a game. Haha, I cracked up every time “crimes” got uttered in the bit where Mae and Gregg sneak into that building. I agree that the writing in this game is exceptional. Those cute critters have far more personality than some humans do in live action TV shows.

  5. Ouch, sorry the projects you pledged money to didn’t work out.

    I’m really liking the art style. But good thing you mentioned it not being a platformer, because that’s what it really looks like in the trailer.

    • The controls feel like a platform game, but you don’t have pull off any precise jumping. If anything Night in the Woods is a walking simulator because you spend most of your time ambling across town and talking to people.

      One of the visual novels I backed seems to have gone on hiatus, as the writer and artist got into an argument. I think the first game I backed on Kickstarter was a RPG made by one of my followers. One day they suddenly closed their blog and ceased to update the Kickstarter. That was sad because they seemed like nice people.

  6. Pingback: Blogger Recognition Award | MoeGamer
  7. I’ve seen so many Kickstarter projects go south, that I’ve been dissuaded from backing anything. It’s a shame, because there are some creators who have it together out there, but that’s something that happens when you have a bunch of artists making something with no project management professional on board and no real accountability.

    I was interested in this game once. Unfortunately, I found out about it from a Let’s Play, and said Let’s Play proceeded to spoil pretty much everything for me, so I find it hard to find the reason to get it now. A bit sad, because it really does seem like it’d be better to play it for oneself.

    • Another thing I don’t like about crowd funding services is that companies are abusing the system. Did a wealthy business like Atari, for example, need to ask for investment to bring Roller-coaster Tycoon to the Switch?

      Shame that Night in the Woods was spoiled for you by a Let’s Play. If it helps, you only get time to hang out with one character per day. You could interact with different NPCs to experience scenes that you didn’t see on YouTube?

    • When I was younger I used to make games on BASIC (text adventures, sport management and RPGs) but I never finished any of them because it’s a lot of work. Ultimately when it comes to free time I prefer to play games rather than create them.

  8. Hahaha… a friendly knife fight. I’d imagine, that wouldn’t turn out too well in real life XD

    This little game sounds so cool and I really like the look of that cat. I must remember to check it out, when I’m finished playing my current games 😀

    • Knife fighting with pals is just asking for trouble. I almost expect to hear the news bash video games, one of these days, because someone will get stabbed and blame it on Night in the Woods.

    • Video games come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like Night in the Woods, are more focused on story than gameplay. There are for example visual novels, which are basically books with graphics and sound, and the stuff that Telltale Games puts out (those are pretty much interactive movies.)

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