Indie games are vastly different from the Triple-A quality titles that get released, in that they are usually short, quirky and well, different. Not one to follow a tried and tested formula that builds on the success of a previous installment, ID Xbox games for the most part are stand out games in their own right, but with such smaller budgets available, as well as having small teams, we are usually treated to small games that leave us
wondering what could have been, had the developer had more time and money. Step up Infinite Fall with their narrative driven, Night in the Woods: Weird Autumn Edition, and believe me when I say; it’s rather good.
Night in the Woods is far from just a simple Indie game, it’s about discovery, friendships, relationships, family, murder, legends and so much more. To imagine that it’s an Indie game is shocking once you begin playing as Mae, who has dropped out of her further education to head back home to her small town, where her friends and parents dwell. On the surface, it sounds like a cliche from a small American sitcom, but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll soon discover that Night in the Woods is far more than you’d expect it to be. Delivering a dialogue heavy narrative that centers around Mae and her friends Angus, Gregg and Bea, and a host of background characters that make up the neighbourhood as you unravel exactly what relationships mean to you, your parents and friends. There’s even the mysterious goings on to investigate, band practice, and crimes with Gregg. Nothing sinister mind you, but more of a silly past time to indulge in, resulting in a few smiles and laughs.
One point to mention, is that in this game, humans don’t exist, and every one you will meet is an animal of some description. From Mae, who is a cat, to Gregg who is a fox and many others, Night in the Woods offers a diverse cast, all of whom have their own problems and agendas to deal with. From the dusk star gazer, to the budding poet, you can interact with nearly all, or at least eavesdrop in their conversations, and find out what’s going on in their lives at any given point in the game.
The story flows smoothly for Mae, even allowing a choice of dialogue during conversations, depending on how you feel you should answer. Despite just being a video game, the story is thoroughly engaging, drawing you into a whole new world, with a cast who genuinely feel a part of your life, and have you wanting to learn more about who they are and what happens next to them. There’s no voice acting, and yet, I cared about them. I wanted to learn more about them, and the friendships I formed with Mae and her group of friends, and even with her parents fascinated me from beginning to end. Incredibly well written, and not just touching on serious notes, but the silly moments you can have with friends. Most notably, Gregg, who is always up for leaving work to go about whatever takes his fancy, which happens to be morally questionable antics for the most part, when it’s not band practice. This is played out in a guitar hero mini game, and is a welcome break from the story.
The soundtrack does a fantastic job of providing the right levels of audio for each situation, whether that be background music as you stroll through town, or if it’s in the foreground, leading the story. Not just perfectly timed though, it’s also of a high quality and a pleasure to listen too and makes up for a lack of voice acting. So it’s not all bad after all.
The gameplay is easy to get to grips with. Move, jump and interact. That’s all you will need to learn, and in turn, allows the story to unfold at a leisurely pace. Which is to say; go to bed once you’re done with the day. There are some people you can meet along your journey, that are out of the way, and require you to explore a little, but that’s up to you should you feel the need to leave the beaten path.
For an Indie game, there is plenty of hours to invest into Night in the Woods, and once I’d finished the story, I had clocked in around 9 hours of game time. The price is surprisingly low for a game with such a deep and moving story, and will leave you feeling satisfied upon the story conclusion. In all honesty, I was disappointed when I completed the game, as it had wrapped up all prior events for Mae and the gang, and let the credits roll to the soundtrack. To say I want to play it again, and make different choices is an understatement. Not just that, but the game itself is possibly one of the best ID Xbox titles yet, and the developer can hold their head high, proud in the knowledge that Night in the Wood is going to be talked about by those that give it the attention it so rightly deserves.
Overall, it’s a must buy. Especially for gamers who support the Indie scene. The soundtrack, characters, story, everything exudes quality. The love and attention that Infinite Fall have invested into this game is apparent, from each character to the story. This is a game that should be in the collection of any gamer who desires a deep and moving story, and for the price, you’d be a fool to miss out. Buy it today.
Overall Score 10/10
Developer: Infinite Fall
Release Date: 13th December 2017
File Size: 6.85GB
Xbox One copy provided for review purpose
Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac & Linux. Android & iOS versions to arrive in 2018.