Developer: Infinity Fall, Finji
Release Date: 02/21/2017
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I love adventure games as they tell incredible stories with such detail that most other games can’t put out. They put action and gameplay on the back burner to bring the story up front and in your face. They are typically slow-paced and keep you hooked with interesting characters, settings, and atmosphere. Night in the Woods is about a cat named Mae who drops out of college and comes back to her hole-in-the-wall town to hang with friends and discover a mystery plaguing her town.
The game starts out fine with several scenes of character introductions and plot setting. Mae meets up with her four friends and each day goes by with several activities such as talking to people, attending band practice (complete with a rhythm mini-game), and checking your laptop. This is fine and all, but this dragged on for way too long. Several days went by and almost nothing happened outside of character development. The game talks about the real-life struggle of today’s younger generation (Millenials) and the day to day life of lower-middle-class Americans. The game is set in a cartoony paper cut-out style but set in real-world problems which are very unique and interesting. I really connected with the characters and their problems were genuine and real, but I wasn’t sure if I was playing a game sometimes.
Each night you go to sleep (after several days go by) you are presented with the only real gameplay here which is annoying platforming on confusing “maps” to find four band members to complete the dream sequence. You go through five of these maps and they are boring and a chore to navigate and feel like forced gameplay. Outside of these sequences, there’s nothing but text and story. I really think this should have been a visual novel or just an animated cartoon rather than a game.
The actual relevancy of the title only comes into play during the last half-hour of the game and it’s forgettable and almost feels forced compared to the day-to-day struggles of the characters which are more interesting. I like how the game is written and the characters it portrays, but if you’re going to make this a game actually give me a game to play. I started getting bored towards the end and just wanted the entire game to end.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this game, but the praise it is given is a little ridiculous. It doesn’t do anything special in its own genre and as a game itself, it’s barely that. I can only recommend this game to hardcore adventure game or visual novel fans who are okay going through hours of text and dialog with almost zero gameplay. It’s a great time killer and a fun way to burn away a lazy weekend afternoon, but nothing more than that and there is no memorable story to care away from this.