At first glance this seems like a fun lighthearted platformer, so I’m sure you’re confused as to why this is featured on a Horror website. I was a bit skeptical but this game completely blew me away on every front. It’s heartbreaking, beautiful, hilarious, and most importantly extremely spooky. I downloaded this on a whim after hearing a few murmurs about it and I was hooked from the very beginning.
You play as Mae Borowski, a 20 year old college drop out who returns to her hometown of Possum Springs to get her head back on straight. She spends her days drifting around town and hanging out with her family and her friends Bea, Gregg, and his boyfriend Angus. All the while Mae is being plagued by haunting nightmares and an overwhelming sense of dread that something in the small town doesn’t seem right. Her premonitions seem to come true almost immediately when the gang discovers a severed arm outside of a diner. Ghosts, missing children, and a mysterious drifter are all intertwined with Maes story as she tries to come to grips with the idea that she might be suffering a full on mental breakdown.
The game is pretty minimalistic as far as art style and controls go, but the dialogue and choices you can make in the game are truly where it shines. As Mae runs around town eavesdropping on residents and speaking to her friends and family you slowly start to piece together the sad story of Possum Springs, a former booming mining town that’s now nearly on the verge of collapse. Small businesses are closing, people are leaving, and the small town Mae grew up in is a husk of its former self. This game deftly deals with some pretty heavy themes like depression, mental illness, loneliness and religion, but balances it out really well with witty dialogue and lighthearted moments. The characters and your interactions with them are perfectly written and each character has their own internal struggles and misgivings about themselves. Mae is an imperfect character which I found extremely refreshing. She is an asshole. she’s selfish, she’s lazy, she’s sarcastic. Bea is struggling to come to terms with her mothers death and the idea of being trapped in Possum Springs looking after her fathers hardware store after he suffers a mental breakdown. Gregg and Angus are trying to save enough money to get out of Possum Springs for good to get away from less than supportive family members and have a fresh start as a couple. The game gives you plenty of things to do as you try to unravel the mystery of the town. You can stargaze, jam at band practice, feed baby mice, go to the mall, visit your friends at their jobs, and participate in a litany of petty crimes like smashing cars, shoplifting, and participating in knife fights. You can also dabble in some light graverobbing, because what’s a spooky game without it.
Night in the Woods is a bit pricier for an indie game with a price tag of 26 dollars but it’s absolutely worth it. The game has various paths and choices you can make so you won’t get to see all the possible scenarios in one playthrough. As the runtime varies depending on how many people you talk to and how many activities you participate in, my first playthrough was around 7 hours. I didn’t have any technical issues while playing and the load times were really short. I just really loved this game, it was gorgeous and haunting inside and out. The characters are flawed but perfect in their own way, and the mystery of the town comes to a shocking conclusion that left me stunned. If you’re a fan of story driven adventure games I fully recommend this game. Night in the Woods is available for Windows, Mac, Linux and PS4.
– Rigby (@rigbot)