There's no game that speaks to the season of fall like Night in the Woods.
Night in the Woods is a beautiful narrative game that came out in early 2017, telling the story of a cat named Mae Borowski who moved back home after dropping out of college and is reconnecting with her old friends and learning more about her town.
The story is captivating, and Mae's interactions with her friends, family, and fellow townspeople are so real, raw, and deeply funny that it's impossible not to fall in love with the whole little town of Possum Springs.
Night in the Woods takes place across a few days in late October/early November when the leaves are turning and falling, heavy clothing is in rotation, and darkness is creeping in on both ends of every day. It's the perfect, compact game for the fall season.
Tough times in Possum Springs
One of the things that makes Night in the Woods so transcendent is how it tackles very real issues.
As Mae reunites with some of Possum Springs' residents like her best friend Gregg, his boyfriend Selmers, a former friend Bea, various tertiary characters, and a fantastic poet named Selmers, the town comes to life and more shocking twists are revealed.
We learn that Possum Springs is in a bit of an economic depression after the local mine closed followed by the closure of a saw mill and a glass factory. Stores have been closing and jobs are getting harder to come by. Even Mae's own parents are having a rough go of it.
Each character has something personal that's effecting them. For Mae, as we learn, it's her experiences with depression, anxiety, and her dissociative disorder.
The more you talk to the characters, the more you begin to understand them. Selmers has one of the roughest backstories of anybody, while Bea's obligation to take care of her family and family's business is completely engrossing every part of her being.
We learn about the old union of miners and how they rose up against their heartless boss and how negligence from leadership led to the deaths of over a hundred miners.
As more is unraveled, the intensity continues to pick up and a very real threat begins to present itself, leading to a very shocking and emotional ending that immediately makes you want to start the whole story over again.
The spirit of Night in the Woods
Through the whole game and amidst these rougher conversations and developments is some of the best dialogue writing in the history of video games.
There are tons of funny jokes, endearing moments, and conversations that feel more real and down to earth than pretty much any other game. None of the optional conversations or events seem laborious because it feels like you're really making a connection with the animals of Possum Springs.
There's a spirit of connection throughout the game, but also a spirit of rebellion. One of the most iconic scenes in the game to me is when Gregg is tossing ceiling light tubes at Mae for her to smash with a baseball bat behind the Snack Falcon convenience store.
The visual aesthetic and the music of Night in the Woods makes the whole experience so easy to sink into and get lost in, as well as adding to the underlying themes of the game.
Night in the Woods is the kind of game that can inspire self-reflection with its own focus on mental health, relationships, and economic troubles, and it's made a lasting positive impact on me and my own approach to my mental health since I first played it.
Night in the Woods is on most platforms, including PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, and Android.
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