About a month back, I started seeing many let’s play channels on YouTube playing the same game. All of the thumbnails for these videos had a simply drawn, anthropomorphic cat in them. I thought this cat character looked cute, so I clicked on one of the videos and began to watch. I ended up watching all thirty-four episodes, waiting patiently as they were uploaded once a day. What started out as a cute, slightly dark, slice of life kind of game slowly turned into a creepy, atmospheric mystery that centered around a small town infected by a murder cult. Enthralling!
I am not usually one to play video games. This is probably due to the fact that I grew up with a brother who would never share the controller, so I just got use to watching the games be played. That being said, I knew I had to buy this game. Watching someone play the game on YouTube was cool, but I wanted to explore the town of Possum Springs where the game is set. I wanted to talk to all of the neighbors, jump on the telephone wires, and to make my own decisions.
Night in the Woods is mainly a decision-based game. The responses you give to the people scattered around town, what you do in a day, and whom you choose to hang out with decides how the game presents itself.
The main mechanic of this game is the two choices given every day. Each day, you can choose who your character, Mae, hangs out with. The choice is between a hyper fox named Gregg, and a Goth, sulky crocodile named Bea. Don’t let the fact that all these characters are cute animals fool you, the game gets pretty deep. Anyway, you can only hang out with one of these characters per day. Once you agree to hang out with on of the characters, an event is triggered. Each day, there are two possible events, but only one can be played each play through. Who you hang out with the most, whether it is Bea or Gregg, determines which of these characters the ending focuses on. This is the only difference between the two endings.
This game was not what I expected when I first learned about. I was expecting a cute little platformer that had a little story to propel it forwards. I was very wrong, while this game is presented as a platformer, and shares mechanics with other games that fit into this category; it is much more focused on the story than the action. While you can make your character jump from building to building and walk along the telephone wires crisscrossing her town, this exploration is not what makes the game. It is the story that drives it. The creators of this game took a specific genre of game and tipped it on its head. Through this, they showed that the platformer genre doesn’t have to be used for strictly action-based games.