Night in the Woods!!
I just finished this beautiful video game called Night in the Woods that I am now absolutely in love with and here is why:
- Casual LGBT representation - the protagonist is canonically bisexual (maybe pan!) and is best friends with a gay couple that have very lifelike relationship problems (that have nothing to do with being gay), and the protagonist continually refers to God as “they.” I’m a fan of the ship Maebea, but it’s not openly canon.
- Deep talks that are accurate to life - emotions, relationships, beliefs, abuse, mental health, it’s all there and it’s all important.
- The CHARACTERS. They are so unbelievably loveable and iconic, and have such a range of emotions and specific reactions to the events in the game that make them all very real as well. They are also all cartoon animals (the protagonist is a cat, and her friends are alligators, bears, and foxes, and her neighborhood includes penguins and raccoons). There’s a character that just tells you a weak poem every day and has no other real significance but to tell you this poem.
- The plot is simultaneously about a cult of ghosts and a dissociative disorder, but more on this later
- Good comedy at no one’s expense
- Lots and lots of fantastic one-liners
- Fantastic graphics, fantastic game mechanics (platforming!! It’s so much fun because there really are no limits. You can walk on the sidewalk or on top of cars or along a powerline, whatever you want)
- A+ art style - it utilizes color to set mood and determine setting (or state of consciousness, considering the playable dream sequences left up to interpretation) and even converts to sihlouettes in some places where it’s most chilling to do so. They use the eyes of the characters to show most of the emotions. The music that was chosen for this game is absolutely perfectly placed to get the most out of the storyline.
- A+ suspense - the writing is beautiful and compelling. The comic relief is timed perfectly, but I still teared up in multiple chapters of the game. The game starts out where our protagonist just dropped out of college to go back home, and is hanging out with her old friends, but takes a lot of sharp turns to get into a much deeper plot over the little subplots we started. Part of me wonders if the game would change very much if I chose different dialogue options so I may find some playthroughs later, but for now I’d just like to appreciate how smoothly the plot progresses despite how quickly it descends into very deep topics.
- It is a long game with a lot of story, but that’s part of what I love. It’s just long enough to be satisfying and I’m still sad I finished it already. Despite complications in the plot as the story continues, it’s very easy to follow. Anything that doesn’t make sense is intentionally confusing to highlight the mindset of the character you’re playing as, and I think that’s the best way to do it.
- There is also a lot that they don’t explain, a lot to reveal through theorizing only. I could think about this forever and not come up with every theory to be pulled from this.
- One of the topics they keep coming back to is the assumed mental illnesses of the different characters, even the protagonist (I only say “assumed” because they never directly say that the characters have any mental health issues, but the way they talk about their fears and the way they view reality points toward very well-portrayed and lifelike mental illnesses, mainly dissociative and anxiety disorders.)
- Nihilistic existential dread (part of what I love about it, but could trigger some dissociation in people who are more sensitive to that kind of thing. Subtly breaks the fourth wall once to talk about how video games are just shapes and will never exist)
- P A R A L L E L S
- Solid “moral” to take from the story, not even eye-roll-corny
- What a beautiful ending
The game is about $20 on steam, but if you can’t afford it or prefer to watch games rather than play them, jacksepticeye has flawless voices for all of the characters and some good theories going so that’s the one I recommend