“At the end of everything, hold on to anything.”
Have you ever started playing a game that you don’t know much about but all your friends keep telling you to play? So you just do without actually looking up what it’s about? That’s what happened to me with Night in the Woods. And that’s also why I ended up crying my eyes out over a really well developed, well written, relatively short and incredibly deep video game.
Night in the Woods was primarily created by three people: Alec Holowka, Scott Benson, and Bethany Hockenberry. In 2013, it launched as a Kickstarter project and reached its goal of $50,000 in just 26 hours. In total, the game received $200,000 in funding and was released on PC, PS4, and Xbox in 2017 and for the Nintendo Switch in 2018. It was when it came to the Switch that I decided to jump on the bandwagon and play this game. I’m so glad I did.
I don’t want to give away anything about this game but here’s a short description. You play Mae, a college-dropout who has just returned home for the first time in a few years and discovers that in many ways, it’s just as she left it. But in other ways… well let’s just say the game takes a pretty surprising turn that leaves you wondering, “Just exactly what kind of game am I playing again?” Paste describes the themes covered as “mental illness, depression, the stagnancy of the middle and lower classes, and the slow death of small town America.” And that’s just a small part of what makes this game so real (despite the fact you’re playing anthropomorphic animals). For a short (I finished it in three days) side-scroller, this game really packs a punch emotionally.
If you follow me on twitter, you probably saw the distressed tweets I made after I finished this game. I was not at all prepared for how much this game impacted me. As someone who deals a lot with many of the same issues Mae has, I found myself uncomfortably familiar with the feelings she struggles with coming to terms with. At times it was like looking into the mirror of a younger me and I can’t say I liked it. But at the same time, the ending brought me comfort and the very real sense that I’m not the only one out there. And I’m incredibly grateful for my friends.
I know it’s only March, but so far Night in the Woods is my favorite game of 2018 and I’m really glad that I was able to knock it off of my To-Play games that I listed in my Fave Games of 2017 post. My initial prediction was correct: this game IS heartbreaking. If you haven’t played it yet, I highly highly recommend you add it to your list. Oh and if you enjoy the game, make sure you play the two mini-games located in the Extras section of the main menu. They add a little more to the main story and they’re just fun to play.
“The beginning is moments ago, the end is moments away. There is no time to forget before all is forgotten.”