Night in the Woods review - Twin Peaks meets Cartoon Network
You know how it is with works of art. They don't have to be perfect to grab us by the throat. To leave a mark. The same applies to Night in the Woods by Infinite Fall. You can find scratches in this painting, but we will still admire them.
Do you know this overwhelming feeling of anxiety? You just got off the bus, evening is coming. You came home after months of absence. You can see idyllic surroundings, warm colors and smiling inhabitants, but you have a feeling that this shiver running down the neck is more than the influence of the autumn chill. Welcome to Possum Springs, another American town in the state of Wygwizdowo Dolne .
First, there was a pretty successful Kickstarter campaign. Alec Holowka, a turkey specialist, gathered a team of enthusiasts and artists who were to give life to Night in the Woods . The discharge was successful, the threshold was broken on the first day, and finally the required amount was exceeded four times. It's possible that some of the cash went into extra champagnes to douse success, as Infinite Fall treated subsequent release dates as foggy dates to ignore. Well, the game finally reached the end of the publishing process.
Night in the Woods is essentially a simple cross between a platformer and an adventure game. All gameplay mechanisms are harnessed here to tell stories. That's why the game doesn't make gameplay a big philosophy. We move the arrows to the right and left. We also have buttons for jumping and interacting with the environment and characters.
Most of the game focuses on the platforming exploration of the town and its surroundings, as well as conversations with the characters you meet . Gameplay is occasionally diversified by mini-games, really simple puzzles and a few collectibles on the cross. Enough for us not to be monotony, but just enough not to break the rhythm. These are standard, although pleasant solutions that are primarily intended to support following the plot. Therefore, let's focus on the merits - that is, content and form.
Shadows over Possum Springs
Don't be fooled by appearances. The fact that we play the role of a young and nice ... cat wandering the surroundings straight from the cartoon is just a trick. If, while watching the screenshots, you believed that you can give this game to toddlers under the age of twelve - I urge you, do not do it. Behind the fairytale styling there are anxiety and fear alive taken from the famous series by David Lynch. They accompany us from the very first moments, which is hardly surprising, considering the bold issues, intended for mature - primarily emotionally - recipients.
Night in The Woods can hide perfectly with its nature. The first acts proceed calmly, and it is extremely rare for us to be disturbed by the rhythm of a declining, once mining town. We get to know them from the perspective of Mae Borowska, a cat who quits her studies and decides to return to her homeland. However, she quickly discovers that the Possum Springs she knew is no more. It is worse. Poverty looks the inhabitants in the eye. Everyone around them is affected by frustration, fatigue and melancholy - including Mae's closest family and friends.
In Possum Springs we meet a gallery of extraordinary, well-invented characters. Especially the parents of our cat and her friends are in the lead. Each of them has their own problems, personal life, fears, hopes and dreams. They have already missed some chances, they have experienced various tragedies - but they are still fighting. And besides, they turn out to be healthy crazy in a non-obvious way. They are characterized by strange driving, unusual speaking style - and even if they are positive characters, they are slightly anxious. When interacting with some of the heroes, we get an atmosphere straight from the Twin Peaks series .
Everything comes alive thanks to dialogues. I have not seen such great texts for a long time. They are varied, funny, touching, and often have serious problems. Some of them are gems full of perverse humor, warm reflection and a bit of psychedelia. They make some heroes unique. I was personally disarmed by Bae's schopenhauerian humor, Mae's friend (crocodile clips with a fondness for gothic garments), my friend Gregg's hyperactive displays and morning conversations with the main character's mother. This is one of those games you should definitely know English for.
Mae herself is an extremely interesting character. A bit unruly, bursting with energy, a clever girl who has apparently crossed the threshold of adulthood not necessarily as she wished - seems to be hiding a secret. Despite the bleak situation, she can keep her humor and make a really funny remark.
Twin Peaks meets Stranger Things ...
The story is divided into several acts, but time is also measured by the passing days. Night in the Woods allows you to go through the conventional circadian rhythm, and the action lasts over a dozen autumn days. Around noon, we freely roam the city, and then we go somewhere with our own package - or at least one of our friends. The creators captured the passage of time well and nicely showed the apparent routine into which the weirdness and the threat slowly creep in. And fear.
Night in the Woods is a sentimental journey into the reality of a small American town that lives in the past and left its glory days behind. It has its monuments, history and nice, slightly strange, aging inhabitants - and no future. It is a very sad, melancholy story, and the mood is emphasized by autumn, with all the coolness, colors and falling leaves.
... and gets mugged by Cartoon Network
Everything is packed in a nice and smoothly animated setting reminiscent of the more careful flash games - but definitely better thought out, more coherent. Aesthetically, Night in the Woods simply captivates. The creators use color to perfection, with the help of which they can create almost any mood. They perfectly convey the atmosphere of a forgotten town at the end of the American Nowhere.
The characters and buildings bring to mind a line from the heyday of Cartoon Network - simplified, very geometric and exaggerated. Fortunately, the animators did not go overboard, typical of the specialists from this once iconic station, and kept their heroes to life in moderation. The fluidity of the movements suits the overall unhurried atmosphere.
Only one thing puzzles me. Why did the developers insist on anthropomorphic animals? I understand that this was probably the concept from the very early stages of the work, but outside of dreams it seems totally unnecessary. Yes, it is all very pleasing to the eye, and the characters are easier to distinguish, but the game uses animal symbolism only in these visions. Everything else would work out as a world of flesh and blood people, presented as in many cartoon adventure games.
I realize that this is exaggerated whining and many people will not be bothered by this aspect of the title, but this is one of those items where special attention is paid to the content combined with the audiovisual setting, so similar details can spoil our reception once or twice.