College dropout Mae Borowski returns home to the crumbling former mining town of Possum Springs seeking to resume her aimless former life and reconnect with the friends she left behind. But things aren’t the same. Home seems different now and her friends have grown and changed. Leaves are falling and the wind is growing colder. Strange things are happening as the light fades.
Time Played: 10 hours
Console: Nintendo Switch
Recommended For: Everyone! No really, go play it!
Okay, so I really toyed with whether or not to write up a review for Night in the Woods on The Escape Roomer. This blog is, well, about escape room and *escape room adjacent* games, experiences etc. That includes a lot of puzzle games too! But Night in the Woods doesn’t have any puzzles in it, it’s a game about story and exploration. But it’s also a story about being at the heart of a mystery and solving it too. Think of it like an escape room video game but you’re a passive observer wondering what is real and what isn’t real, whilst also trying to live your life. I think that’s a fairly accurate explanation that stays true to this website.
So with that, let’s get into it!
You are Mae Borowski and you’ve returned to your home town of Possum Springs after dropping out of college. The town you grew up in is both upsettingly different and at the same time just as agonisingly the same. Your friends, family, neighbours – they’re just waking up and going through the routine of life. Wake, eat, work, sleep. But something isn’t right, first a few missing posters of a kid you used to know, then a severed arm shows up outside the diner… There’s mystery afoot! But you’re just a kid, right? You have your own problems. But slowly, slowly as the autumn turns to winter, your path and the mysteries of Possum Springs begin to converge.
Despite the game never once giving you any instructions or goals, the aim of Night in the Woods is really simple. It’s a coming of age story told through the lens of American urban decay. The mining the industry sector has all buy dried up and small businesses close to make way for chains and sprawling malls. Your father, once a miner now works at a deli counter. And you? You don’t have a job, or any meaning, or direction. You just explore, you exist. Oh and OF COURSE you solve the mystery.
I’m being deliberately cagey about the mystery as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. But you’ll be presented with evidence in drips and drabs throughout the game, have to make choices and face real consequences for your choices. It touches on the supernatural, the criminal and the down right “wow that’s creepy and unexpected”.
So the main reason I’m even writing about Night in the Woods is because I loved it. I picked it up in the Switch winter sale and I’m glad I did, as it easily pips it for me as one of my favourite games of 2020. What a note to end on!
Night in the Woods is by Infinite Fall and it can be played for $19.99 USD on Windows, PS4, Xbox and Nintendo Switch. Support them by heading to their website here.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief and covers escape rooms/immersive theatre in London, play at home games, and video games.