Back in 2013, Infinite Fall launched a crowdfunding campaign for Night in the Woods, a cute-looking game featuring Mae, a young cat, who returns after a few years of absence to her mining town of Possum Spring. Described as narrative adventure game, with the ability to interact with dozens of characters, Night in the Woods follow a story much deeper than it seems and especially to lift the veil on disturbing events that occur in the woods after dark. Now roughly a year after its initial launch on PC and PlayStation 4, followed by Xbox One, I finally get the chance to try this adventure as it gets ported to the Nintendo Switch.
Night in the Woods starts with Mae finding herself alone at the bus station, completely left to her own demise to get back home, instead of getting picked up by her parents. The young cat returns to Possum Spring after three years of absence, having decided to abandon her studies for a reason we yet to know. And so Mae is back in her old mining town, but things have changed a lot in the three years that passed. In addition to her favorite shops being closed, she’ll discover most of her friends have grown up, having to work and take adult responsibilities.
Infinite Fall’s game shines through with its funny, authentic, but serious writing by the substantive topics it addresses. Its wealth of endearing characters has a lot to offer and you’ll enjoy following their adventures, which are actually a little more elaborate than the dialogues and light mood you discover in the beginning. There’s a rich and deep context to the game, one of rural exodus, reflections on death, the transition to adulthood or even depression, which makes conversations often convincing, natural, carried by the cynicism of Mae’s band of friends.
Moreover, if Night in the Woods is particularly talkative, the conversation between the characters flow nicely, either thanks to the jokes between Mae and Gregg, the nihilistic speeches of Bea or the often too serious sermons (but often necessary) of Angus. Each character has his own personality, worries and skeleton in their closet to live with, and even if the game is essentially narrative-centered, the unfolding of the plot is done by itself, and players will be asking for more. A feeling that is difficult to describe, but which grabs the player by the guts, even regularly making you squeeze a smile thanks to a perfectly written line.
Visually, Night in the Woods is also a real artistic success. Bright with varied colors that illuminate the screen, the animations are fluid, making the city of Possum Spring so rich in details, with many possible interactions. The game, in all its 2D glory, shines with its universe that transposes animals in a terribly realistic world, which within minutes, really makes the player immersed in this mood.
Even though Mae will often walk along the same path between her house and Gregg’s shop, curious players may decide to visit other parts of the small town and discover a whole lot of different spots over the course of the adventure. In addition to that, the young cat is particularly agile and can jump everywhere, but it’s the strange dreams that will truly show what she’s made of, tossing her into a completely dreamlike environments with a disturbing and magical atmosphere. As for music, the themes are just like the game, inviting you to escape from reality, reminiscent of your childhood, but adding a touch of melancholy that fits perfectly with the game. However, the music becomes quite redundant in some parts that can be long, as it ends up looping endlessly, but that’s a rare thing.
Finally, Night in the Woods’ gameplay is particularly simplistic, with Mae only able to move in two dimensions, jumping and interacting with other characters or certain elements of the stage. However, the title offers from time to time a little variation in the gameplay, with some fun instance of rhythm minigames (style like Guitar Hero), or even small puzzles which can be easily solved. The dreaming phases offer moments of pure platforming and exploration, which are a real source of freshness, fun and always serve the overall narration.
For those of you that played the game originally on one of the previously launched platforms (Xbox One, PlayStation 4 or PC), you’ll be happy to know that the Nintendo Switch version is a complete experience. While not a demanding game on the technical front, Night in the Woods runs fully at 60fps in both 1080p in dock mode and 720p in handled mode, but I wished they added some sort of touch control to make full use of the console portability. On the other hand, the game comes out with the Weird Autumn and Solstice content pack, which adds a sort of “director’s cut” to Night in the Woods, with additional chapters and side stories that opens up more possibilities to the core script.
Night in the Woods was reviewed using a Nintendo Switch digital download code of the game provided by Infinite Fall. The game is also available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC in digital releases. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published (click here for more information about our review policy).
• Marvelous artistic direction
• A deep and touching story
• Amazing and witty writing
• Big fan of the soundtrack
• Music loops can get annoying sometime
• Very limited gameplay