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Night in the Woods (Switch) Review

 
NITW Header Switch Review
NITW Header Switch Review
NITW Header Switch Review

 
At A Glance...
 

Formats: Switch (reviewed), PS4, PC, Xbox One, IOS
 
Genre: ,
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer:
 
Final Score
8.5
8.5/ 10


User Rating
no ratings yet

 

We Liked?


  • Exceptional story telling that focuses on emotional content rather than narrative "wins"
  • A cast of characters with enough personality that you form attachments and opinions
  • Great look and sound

Not So Much?


  • Repetitive in places
  • The game side is a little weak in places and the sudden rhythm action sections caused stress
  • Pacing issues that almost derail the last third of the game


Final Fiendish Feelings?

Offering something truly unique, pushing boundaries and confronting issues… not something you come across in most often in entertainment mediums let alone in video games.

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Posted February 23, 2018 by

 
Final Fiendish Feelings?
 
 
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ight in the Woods finally hits the Nintendo Switch and it’s a title I have struggled to review… taking days after completion to come to some semblance of a review.

First the basics. For those unaware of this well received indie hit from the PC/PS4 Night in the Woods is, on it’s surface, a coming of age platform adventure game. I say on the surface because it’s so much more besides folding in elements of graphic novels, walking sims and those coming of age/something scary in the woodshed movies prevalent in the the late 80s/early 90s.

You control Mae Borowski, an unruly cat woman (not the cardie-wearing shut-in type!) returning home to Possum Springs after dropping out of University/College. Something weird is going on in your hometown and Mae is determined to get to the bottom of it… and maybe attend the odd party and smash the odd thing up – CRIMES!

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The story at play in Night in the Woods is very much as odds with the cute colourful look of the game. Your anthropomorphic cast of characters should be in an childs edutainment title yet they’re talking like friends you know and upending each others worlds with the darkest of secrets. It all works very well making NITW a title that you can take nothing for granted in – all is subverted.

Now… If I lay it on you that Night in the Woods is actually a heartfelt, sometimes dark, look at small town life, declining industrial communities, young adult anxiety and depression… well you’re likely to start driting away. Fear not, thanks to some smart writing, the light hearted look of the game and the general way NITW plays you’ll only be aware of some of these elements as subtle backdrops. In all respects, be the subject in question in the foreground or background the writers have handled the subjects with an honesty and earnestness that you rarely see in any medium. The use of ‘Mature’ or ‘Realistic’ is bandied around on games from time to time. Mostly it has to be said this refers to how shiny a new bit of engine technology is or how gritty a level looks. Well, Night in the Woods IS both mature and realistic in the sense that it covers mature topics, using well thought out mature narratives that never plaicate the player whilst keeping these references within a realistic world. Sure some of the story is fanciful, but the characters and their feelings are earnest (something rare in a game) and well realised.

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So the struggle I’ve had coming to a review for Night in the Woods…. I disliked a lot of these characters… After saying how realistic and well done they are surely I can’t actually dislike them? Well to be honest I had a really hard time relating to a lot of their issues and their situations…. Especially at the outset when I just wanted jump Mae off the top of a ravine. This might be because I’m too far removed from those days or that this speaks to a more American audience, I’m unsure. So, objectivity and rumination have had to be deployed so as not to dismiss what I believe to be a very important and well managed slice of entertainment.

I’ve concluded that it’s more than OK for me to dislike these characters on some level, because that’s a perfectly acceptable reaction to have to other people. Now, as the game progressed, and I spent more and more times with the cast of characters I grew to appreciate how and why they acted the way they did. Why Bea was so closed off and angry, why Gregg was so hell bent on destruction and CRIMES….. And why Mae was so insufferable at times.

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The game portion of the game doesn’t come up to the benchmark setting level of the story. Pacing issues are rife, repetitive dream sequences, directionless exploration and having to locate the right location as the right moment all start to grate and around the last third of the game the wheels almost fall off. The narrative and the need to resolve some of the issues in the game drive you through but it’s a close run thing.

Gameplay wise there is a good mixture of light platforming, sporadic rhythm action and light adventure puzzling. You can easily lose several hours just exploring the town, talking to the characters that inhabit it (some good poetry and star gazing going on!) and just soaking in small town life.

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Final Thoughts

Night in the Woods is a game I could easily have bounced off of. Struggling initially to see a point other than turning the wheel i would’ve likely walked away if this wasn’t so highly regarded and a review assignment. Thankfully I grew to appreciate the story Night in the Woods has to tell.

Offering something truly unique, pushing boundaries and confronting issues… not something you come across in most often in entertainment mediums let alone in video games. Yet here Infinite Fall have absolutely done this.

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The game feels very at home on the Nintendo Switch looking crips and smooth either docked or in the hands you really can’t fault it as a port from the more powerful systems.

It’s dumb, funny, smart, brutal, beautiful and heart wrenching often all within the same scene, displaying an impressive ability to pivot. It allows you to sink in to it and just inhabit those days when you used to hang around with your buddies, talking crap and eating pizza. It’s not without fault, but Night in the Woods has it where it counts.

 

The product under review was provided by the creator, manufacturer, publisher or their PR representative free of charge and without caveat. Please see our site review policy for more information.

Zeth

 
Zeth is our EU ninja and Editor in Chief. He's been writing about video games since 2008 when he started on BrutalGamer. He's pretty old and has been a gamer since he played Space Invaders as a young boy in the 80's. His genre tastes lean towards platformers, point-and-click adventure, action-adventure and shooters but he'll turn his hand to anything.