Night in the Woods is a side scrolling adventure game revolving around a young college drop out named Mae. While this can sound boring from form a story telling perspective, the addition of a horror/supernatural element brings this game to whole new level.
Something unique that I haven’t seen implemented well until this game is the background / foreground mechanic. There are numerous chances to interact with objects that you may not realize right away due to how subtly it shifts between the two. This can get frustrating, especially when you’re trying to get to a specific place and the character isn’t cooperating. A lot of this is used to cover hidden areas and dialogue options with certain characters. The term ‘explore everything’ is not used lightly in case.
The game utilizes a triple jump mechanic as a means to getting our character to higher areas (boxes, rooftops, etc.). This isn’t a problem in and of itself, but it does get difficult to get a running start sometimes, which is required for the third higher jump to take place.
The majority of this game are the interactions you have with other people. We do get a couple of ‘action’ sequences that require timed hits, but they are few and far between.
At three times throughout the story we are treated to a rhythm mini game that affects certain pages within Mae’s journal. They aren’t very long but they are also the key to two separate trophies you can unlock; one for hitting 90% of all notes correctly and one for missing at least 50% of all notes.
Something that irritates me to no end is the checkpoint system. There is no way to go back once you hit a checkpoint. If you’ve missed a trophy, or maybe selected a different dialogue choice accidentally, you’re stuck with it. You have to reset the game before the checkpoint hits in order to replay that particular scene. If you mess up and the game does save before you can reset, you can’t go back and redo it without beginning an entirely new play through.
Graphics (Art Style)
Night in the Woods is incredibly unique in the way they chose to portray their characters. At first glance you think of a cartoon. Everything is very soft and childlike looking, especially with all of the characters being animals. It’s beautiful to look at and makes the story catch you even more off guard when things start to get real.
While there isn’t any offensive imagery, it does use things like pentagrams and other scribbles as well as contrasting colors and tones to get its point across. I really appreciate how they do this because it’s much creepier that way. Subtlety in horror is always preferable to graphic violence and gore in my opinion. They’re attempting to get a deep mental response from you rather than a knee jerk reaction like a lot of horror games are known to do.
I’ve said this before in other reviews, but games like this one are all about the story. Interactions and relationships with other characters are what can make or break a game, and with this one it makes it. So much depth is added to these cartoony animals within the first couple hours that you don’t want to stop playing.
Despite it looking like something a child might be drawn to, Night in the Woods touches on some very adult topics ranging from depression to cult sacrifice. Things get dark, and if that’s not something you can handle then you shouldn’t play.
We learn a bunch of stuff about Mae, and a lot of people, myself included, will be able to relate to the 20-year-old college dropout who doesn’t know where to go next in life. Even if Mae isn’t the one you attach to, I can almost guarantee you will find some character in this game that you understand (I personally love Lori M.).
They have an interesting take on religion that you don’t get to see very often in the gaming world. We have two very different extremes happening throughout the story; something akin to Christianity as well as something along the lines of the Occult. These are kept very separate but neither a bashed in a way you usually expect them to be. The actions people take based off of them are called into question, but the beliefs themselves are left alone for the most part.
Extras (Trophies, collectibles, etc.)
This right here is the most frustrating part of this game to me. There is a book of sketches that you can collect throughout the game depending on certain interactions you take part in. This by itself is fine. It gives you a reason to look over every nook and cranny. What’s irritating are the trophies.
They are incredibly vague. That is also fine, but the final trophy you can achieve is for collecting every sketch in one play through. This isn’t possible, at least, not right now. You aren’t able to go down every available story path in one playthrough which is required to get all of the sketches, so there isn’t any way that we know of right now to access this trophy.
It makes me wonder if one of two things are possible: this is a troll trophy that we were never meant to get, and that the developers put in so that we would keep playing their game. Or, they are planning on updating the game in the future so that it is possible to save your journal and take it through numerous play throughs without resetting it. Either way, this is infuriating to completionists like myself in every way imaginable.
I enjoyed the game very much. So much so that it may be one of my tops for this year. However, the trophy / collectible issue is disheartening and once I’ve written up all the blogs I have planned I’ll step away for a while. At least until someone figures out how to fix the problem.
If you enjoy a creepy horror story full of very real and complex characters then defiantly pick this up. It may look odd from the outside, but don’t let the cute animals fool you. It will take you for a ride.
Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you later!