Night in the Woods follows a young woman as she returns home after dropping out of college, Mae Borowski follows her own rules, she runs across the rooftops and plays like she is still a kid, but returning to her home town after a long time away reveals to her how much the town has changed and that her friend’s lives have all moved on, her friends now have full-time jobs and responsibilities. Meanwhile, Mae now has no responsibility at all, living with her parents and not having a job she spends her days having fun and doing what she wants when she wants to, this starts to have an impact on her friends as she doesn’t recognize the pressures they are under as she tries to get them to drop work for her. this ends up with arguments and some very sharp words being used, which when she sleeps causes Mae to have vivid anxiety dreams.

The dream sequences are very unique parts of the game running through broken and gravity-defying parts of her day Mae has to leap from levitating railway lines to floating rooftops to find strange ghostly musicians, which once activated will play together, each instrument complimenting the others, a violin, tuba, accordion and saxophone, all playing in unison a haunting melody, it’s a very surreal moment in the game.

It’s a very touching story though as you explore more of the backstories of each of the characters you meet, each one having completely unique perspectives and issues, Mae’s friends who are having financial issues and are under constant pressure with the family business and the pastor who is trying her best to give aid to a homeless man who has fallen on hard times, all the characters are unique and interesting to interact with, making you feel that the town is very much alive and the things that you say and do in your day playing as Mae will have an effect on them.

It’s a very simple game without in-depth gameplay, you move throughout the world as you would in most platformers even with a high triple jump similar to the newer Mario games, leaping from rooftop to rooftop is a very fun aspect of the game as it solidifies the feeling of childlike freedom and can be used to explore the game world and find hidden conversations that you can have.

The real meat of the game is the conversations you can have with the characters, you can interact and have some very unique and memorable chats with the NPCs in the town, the most memorable character that I always enjoyed speaking with was Mae’s mother, every morning she is sitting in the kitchen reading a book which you discuss with her, leading to some interesting conversations about serial killer stories and my favorite: EEEELS. there are many conversations you have with people that explore the more difficult topics and problems that each person has to face, money worries, homelessness, and even kidnapping are brought up and lead to some quite difficult conversations, but this all the more fleshes out how diverse and complicated people can be, none of the characters are simple 2-dimensional personalities (even when they are 2D!).

The art in Night in the Woods is a very simple 2D design, almost looking like it was created using cut-out pieces of paper, but even with this simplistic design, it gives a feeling of a deep and detailed world. simply walking down the street in town is a joy as your character kicks up leaves as they walk, along with the wildlife of squirrels and birds that will be startled and scurry away it gives the player a diverse world to interact with.

What I find the strangest thing is in this game is that all the characters in it are anthropomorphized animals, Mae is a cat and her friends are a fox, a crocodile, and a bear who for some reason never notice the fact that normal animals are walking around the world with them or the fact that it is very odd. maybe that’s just me overthinking it.

Being that it is a very simple game graphically it runs on basically any system, it is available on windows, mac, Linux, PS4 Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch, so you can get it on pretty much all consoles. In the entire playthrough I had of the game I never experienced any glitches or graphical issues so the immersion of the story is never broken.

After playing through the entire game it is a brilliant story about maturing, and the discovery of some of the dark secrets that the town is hiding, social sims are not usually my type of game but I really enjoyed getting to know all the people who live in the town and discovering each of their unique personalities and habits.

The only small issue I found with the game was the lack of direction it gave you, when your character wakes up in the morning you have little to no idea on where to go, which I think was the intention by the developers to encourage exploration and interaction with all of the NPCs that you will meet, I recommend this for anyone who has some free time and is looking for a nice relaxed social sim game. I would give it a 3/5 an enjoyable game with some slow moments in between the exciting parts.

Night in the Woods is available for free when downloaded on the Xbox games pass, also it’s for purchase on Steam and the PlayStation Store, so go check it out!

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