Narrative Games Club: Night in the Woods Discussion Thread
April 12, 2017 6:45 AM - Subscribe

Night in the Woods is a side scrolling adventure game from Infinite Fall studios. NITW follows the story of Mae Borowski, a young adult who has recently dropped out of college and returned to her struggling hometown of Possum Springs. Spending her days aimlessly exploring and hanging out with friends, Mae starts to uncover a dark mystery involving a severed arm, a mysterious figure in a cloak, and her own nightmares.

There are two side adventures available at the link above, which contribute a bit to the story, but do not contain major plot elements.
posted by codacorolla to Narrative Games (12 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
PRO TIP: if your elders are death cult dads, you do not have to respect them
posted by trunk muffins at 8:21 AM on April 12, 2017

Here's a podcast interview with Scott Benson (@bombsfall), via no-cartridge:
posted by trunk muffins at 3:47 PM on April 12, 2017

I've been through it once, but started a second time because I gather that many of the "friend quests" are exclusive, like if you go do crimes with Greg one day, you can't go somewhere with Bea that day, etc. (Mae's mom basically says this, in her way.) Which guarantees I won't have seen everything in one play-through.

It does, more than any other game I've played, evoke a sense of the place. I'm from a mining town, and some of it does feel very spot-on. We didn't run along power lines, though I guess there was the sewer boxes. Neat trick to take the worst parts of small towns and trap them in a mine.

Maybe the way you can get into a routine helps, going around and checking in on everyone each day. I have thought they could make a Do The Right Thing videogame, where you walk around delivering pizzas and meeting people in the neighbourhood. This game gets at the kind of feel I was thinking of for that.

First time through, I thought it was a nice touch: when you talk to the neighbour goat, and he asks if you've got a job yet, one possible answer is to say you've been elected mayor. The next time you talk to your dad, he greets you as mayor. I liked it as a nice way to underline that they might have talked to each other while you were gone. I pictured the neighbour going all "Can you believe what she told me!" and my dad filing that away because he thought it was kind of funny. But the second time through, I chose the other option, and my dad still greeted me as mayor, so maybe that's unrelated and I made all that up myself.
posted by RobotHero at 9:39 PM on April 12, 2017

I enjoyed how Mae is not an especially likeable character, for a narrator. She frequently can't think of anything nice or useful to say, and routinely avoids sincere conversation with humor and aloofness. And yet, as the player you still want her to grow and succeed. Inasmuch as that's even possible, it has to be accomplished Mae's way.

I was really surprised at first to learn that Bea and Mae had been childhood friends given how cold Bea is toward her at the start of the story. Of course that makes it feel really rewarding to restore the friendship.

The dream sequences were by far my favorite part of the game. I loved the loose, flowy feeling of them, and the dream-logic cues. When the Not-God-Cat tells Mae she won't be returning to that realm, it made me feel really sad.

Not being able to do all three "ghost quests" took me by surprise and that put me into a place where I was really feeling overwhelmed and tense during the climax of the game, in the mines. Amazing storytelling.

Any speculation on the identities of Lurve and Eide, or of the deathcult dads in general? During the epilogue, I noticed that one of the Smelters fans outside the bar next to the Snack Falcon was gone.
posted by trunk muffins at 9:16 AM on April 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've played the game through twice now and will probably return at least once more to see if I can find other things I missed, but I think I played through most of the narrative options between my two games.

This is the most I've gotten sucked into a game in quite a while. I couldn't stop playing it or talking about it. I think it does such a great job of capturing the mix of hope and sadness that Mae and others in her town feel, and I loved how much of an element of exploration there is - there are certain stories you can't miss, but there are so many other plot elements you get to experience if you follow exactly the right sequence. On my first play-through I encountered both musicians in the right order and got to hear the story about the band that presumably became the musicians in the nightmares(?) and on my second time through I deliberately visited them in the opposite order and the story didn't progress to that point.

My first time through I played a very Bea-heavy story, and even on my second play-through it was hard to make myself pick the Gregg stories because I want Mae and Bea to succeed as friends so very badly. I think the Mae plotline got all the best stories (the shopping mall! the party!).

I have no speculations on the identities of the deathcult dads and would love to hear theories. I do know if you follow the conversations between the Smelters fans each day, they gradually start opening up to each other and in their last conversation one of them says that he and his family are moving away, so I don't think the missing Smelters fan was related.

I liked how the two side games tied into the main game in little ways. Longest Night didn't do a whole lot for me, but I liked Lost Constellation a lot and felt like it added quite a bit to my experience of Night in the Woods, both from getting to see young Mae interact with her grandfather and from getting more of the story of Adina and the forest god.
posted by jessypie at 2:37 PM on April 13, 2017

Also: I really like how even though the overall arc of the game doesn't change no matter which friend you spend more time with, some of the dialogue is different later in the game, showing a preference for the friend you spent more time with. Has anyone played a balanced game, spending equal time with each of them? I'm curious to know how that affects things - I guess that's what I'll have to do on my next play-through.
posted by jessypie at 2:44 PM on April 13, 2017

I'm on my second playthrough of this and it's so great how you can have different adventures depending on which choices you make. Like the first time we never even got Dad to move those darn boxes!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:33 AM on April 21, 2017

Finally finished this. They're not literally the same, but the death cult are metaphorically the same as the city council busy-bees in Bruce's storyline. The chance at helping Bruce out is sacrificed by them for the same reason as the death cult sacrificing people.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:27 AM on July 3, 2017

Also, I really got the feeling that Bruce didn't really have a family waiting for him, and Pastor K decided not to break Mae's naivety there. Bruce's storyline was so sad.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:28 AM on July 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

yea I totally thought that when Bruce said he had family waiting it was they were dead, and he was planning on joining them, but didn't want to upset Mae by telling her his real plans
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:34 AM on July 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I didn't think he was suicidal, just indulging in a bit of fantasy before moving on to the next place he could camp for a while, but I can see where you'd get that reading. It's not a happy story either way.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 5:50 AM on July 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Some of the moments in this game are so inexpressibly lovely. Constellations with Angus, spraying people at the mall with Bea... this isn't a game with a super happy ending but it's also very much not grim, and I appreciate that.
posted by storytam at 11:36 PM on July 9, 2019

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