A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Explores identity, mental distress. Demonstrates how good communication among friends, family members can help solve problems. Touches on issues including loss, financial stress, responsibility. Also shows some troubling behaviors -- including shoplifting -- without much in way of consequences.
Positive Role Models
Mae is an emotionally lost, confused college dropout who gets into a lot of trouble. She doesn't work, she steals, trespasses, plays very dangerous games, ranging from walking on telephone lines to taking turns stabbing hands with a friend. She's generally a good, likable person who cares what her parents think of her, wants to do right by her friends, but much of her behavior isn't anything kids should copy.
Ease of Play
Simple controls; easy to learn/play. Players just keep following interactive story until it concludes.
Violence & Scariness
Severed arm is found in street, along with a small amount of blood. Mischief results in modest injury, including hand-stabbing game that leaves red X's on characters' paws, some meddling with a car battery that electrocutes, briefly incapacitates protagonist. Some descriptions of violence in text, including mentions of blood, death. A game within the game has players scouring a dungeon filled with monsters that can be dismembered, bleed, but graphics are rudimentary, intensity's low.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
References to "sex," "porn" in dialogue, with one discussion of whether, how many times a couple of female characters have "done it."
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Several instances of "s--t," "damn," "asshole," "hell," other instances of mild profanity.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mae drinks several beers, makes a fool of herself at a party, slurring her words, throwing up. Other characters reference drinking, alcohol. One main character never seen without a lit cigarette in her mouth.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know Night in the Woods is a downloadable side-scrolling interactive story/adventure about a 20-year-old college dropout named Mae on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The story is presented in cartoonish fashion -- all of the characters are anthropomorphized animals -- but is surprisingly complex, touching on plenty of weighty topics including friendships, family, relationships, financial stress, and personal responsibility. Parents should be aware that Mae drinks alcohol to the point of sickness, one of her friends smokes constantly, and dialogue and certain situations occasionally reference mature themes, including sex and pornography, though they stop well short of anything explicit.
Is It Any Good?
Few games choose or succeed at the ambitious challenge of trying to capture the angst, unhappiness, and confusion of young adults entering the real world. This is one of the rare ones that stands out. Don't be fooled by its cartoon animal characters; Night in the Woods tells a coming-of-age story with personalities that are much more authentic and honest than those we normally see in games aiming for photo-realistic graphics. Their conversations, while funny and sarcastic, often also are melancholy and relatable, exploring problems to do with parents, relationships, friendships, mental states, and the future. And Mae's journey, which has her friends and family worried about her physical and mental well-being, is absolutely compelling. She feels like a real, three-dimensional human in feline form. The larger mystery with the severed limb and missing persons, which may or may not involve ghosts, acts as a catalyst to help Mae and her friends deal with their own personal issues.
Narrative adventures often succeed in storytelling but fall down in terms of design as well as keeping players interested and active. Not this one. While there's a bit of repetitive journeying back and forth across the same streets and buildings, the designers have injected a wide variety of interesting activities that help keep Night in the Woods feeling like a game. Most nights, Mae's dreams/nightmares provide creative running-and-jumping puzzles, the band's jam sessions offer a surprisingly challenging rhythm game, and little contextual activities -- like feeding a family of mice living inside an old parade float -- are gradually unlocked all over Possum Springs. The result is a character-driven story that's also a lot of fun to play. There are precious few other games like it.
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