16th Feb2018

‘Night in the Woods’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Emma Rees


Video games have always, in some way, made us feel connected to their fantastical worlds, fascinating characters, and even other players who choose to join in on the couch, or from the other side of the world. Some games have the ability to suck you so deep into their story ,that just like a good book, they are hard to put down until the conclusion is reached.

One genre that is notorious for short, yet engaging stories are narrative games, with examples such as: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, The Red Strings Club and Gone Home. All of these have a heavy emphasis on their worlds and characters.

Night in the Woods is a unique, 2D narrative game with light platforming, where you play as an anthropomorphic cat called Mae, who has dropped out of college. She returns to her hometown of Possum Springs hoping to reconnect with old friends and go back her old life, however, many things have changed and something sinister is lurking in the woods.

As Mae, you will be exploring Possum Springs, hanging out with old friends, engaging in conversation with the town’s residents and discovering dark secrets. Possum Springs is home to all sorts of anthropomorphic animals such at cats, dogs, crocodiles, bears, birds, mice and foxes. All of them are extremely engaging to talk to and dialogue flows so naturally that it’s easy to forget that you’re actually reading speech bubbles. There are often different things Mae can say to respond in conversations too, which keeps things fresh and interesting. It’s worth talking to them more than once because they almost always have more to say, or Mae will have more things she wants to say to them.


Some animals will be having conversations with each other which Mae can listen in on. As the days go by, and you come across these characters again, little side stories start to play out. It’s not just the residents however; if you examine objects and parts of the environment, Mae will give her thoughts and memories relating to it. She carries a journal around, so whenever anything strange or interesting happens she will doodle funny little drawings on the pages.

In Possum Springs, there’s always something new to discover, whether its a nugget of town history, or more about Mae’s friends and family. You can also use Mae’s jumping ability to reach high up places and carelessly walk along power lines to reach the top of buildings. Some residents like to hang out in strange places…

As for Mae’s main friends, there’s a small handful you can choose to hang out with, the main ones being Gregg and Bea. Bea is cynical and depressed, whereas Gregg is excitable and enjoys committing crimes. He has a boyfriend called Angus who you can get to know a little more about if you’re with Gregg at the time, or if you choose for him to accompany you during one of story segments. There are two endings and who you hang out with the most, determines the dialogue you will get at the end.

Hanging out with friends leads to scenario’s with small mini games which involve stealing from shops without being noticed, to building a robot and smashing light bulbs. Interacting with items or stealing, often requires moving Mae’s paws to brush aside leaves or take hold of an object which makes it feel somewhat more personal.


Sometimes Mae will get invited to band practice with all of them, where she will play the bass guitar via a rhythm game where you must push the corresponding buttons as they fall down the guitar strings. There is no way to ‘fail’ these mini games, you get several tries before the scenario continues with some dialogue relating to how well you did; in the case of playing bass guitar, Mae will just comment on how she didn’t know the track.

Mae’s friends aren’t just extremely likeable but are relatable on a very human level. They have hopes and dreams, insecurities and passions, and they’ve suffered hardships. Mae herself has insecurities which you can choose for her to think about whilst she looks at herself in a mirror one evening. The more Mae hangs out with her friends the more she realises that it’s not just Possum Springs that has changed. Meanwhile, she remains stagnant. The incident that lead to her quitting college, is kept a mystery until towards the end.

Mae wakes up in her room every morning. There, she has a bass guitar with which to practice songs, and a laptop where she can engage in short chats with her friends. Impressively, it is here that you can play a full roguelike game, called Demontower, which has two endings. As the story progresses, Mae begins to have bizarre, shadowy dreams which involve platforming and exploration in order to find and activate some ghostly musicians. Mae’s dreams are where the main bulk of the platforming takes place but it feels smooth and responsive enough to minimise frustrations from any missteps; not that Mae can perish.

The art style of Night in the Woods changes depending on the scenario. Mae’s dreams, for example, are almost all in silhouette, but bright astral colours and lights pass by in the background. Several scenes are made very effective by the change in colour palette and these sections look and play just as beautifully as the rest. Possum Springs itself looks vibrant and feels alive. Squirrels run up telephone poles, birds get startled and fly off, cars drive by, and autumn leaves are kicked up beneath Mae’s feet.


The soundtrack is emotive and a pleasure to listen to, particularly the carefree music of running through Possum Springs. Something about it triggers a feeling of nostalgia and innocence. There is a large variety of tracks within the game, all of which successfully portray many different moods, events and environments.

Overall, the story is brilliant with a good balance of humour and dark moments. Night in the Woods does have its ‘bad guys’ and sinister evil force at work, but beneath all of that it’s very much a game about social isolation, dealing with change, and exploring mental health. All of it is handled in a remarkably clever and creative way. The ending, however, leaves a number of things open to interpretation.

There is plenty of replayability in Night in the Woods. For starters, you can re-play to explore all of the dialogue or to form a relationship with a different friend. Also, included with the Switch version, are the two DLC releases: ‘Longest Night’ and ‘Lost Constellation’.

‘Longest Night’ was a very short, supplemental game released after the kickstarter, which spawned some ideas for the main game. In it, Mae is sitting around a campfire with her friends: Angus, Gregg and Bea. The player draws star constellations in the sky and everyone talks a bit about the stories behind them. ‘Lost Constellation’ was the second, short, supplemental game which explores some of the mythology of Night in the Woods. In this DLC, Mae is being told a supernatural bedtime story by her father and you play as the character in that story. The quest is to make it through the forest alive. There are some light puzzles and a great deal of snowman building but once again, the characters make the story and interactions shine.


Night in the Woods is a fantastic narrative game about change, mental health and friendship. It has simple yet beautiful graphics and the soundtrack is a real joy to listen to. While it may not be particularly long, it’s well worth a second playthrough to explore other friendships and dialogue. The DLC is also interesting and well worth playing to get some extra insight into the lore and mythology. Night in the Woods plays beautifully on the Switch and with its loveable cast of characters and well crafted story, is a game which everyone should consider adding to their library.

***** 5/5

Developed by Infinite Fall and published by Finji, Night in the Woods is available to download now on the Nintendo Switch.


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