Night in the Woods

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Night in the Woods Game Poster Image
Rich, witty, emotional narrative adventure; mature themes.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 8 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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

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.

Sex

References to "sex," "porn" in dialogue, with one discussion of whether, how many times a couple of female characters have "done it."

Language

Several instances of "s--t," "damn," "asshole," "hell," other instances of mild profanity.

Consumerism
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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byIlovebears June 16, 2018

Night In The Wooooods

This is definitely the game you should be playing. It talks about a 20 year-old cat who drops out of school and goes on adventures with her friends. I am skepti... Continue reading
Adult Written byBrandon Espinoza June 18, 2018

Why Night in the Woods is More of an Experience than Simply Just a Video Game

What can I truly say about Night in the Woods? From what I heard, it's the kind of game that is worth experiencing for those who want exploration and tons... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bysnazztacular March 26, 2017

Alot can happen.

SPOILERS Because this is a story game, there are many different things that you can decide to do. I play through the entire 10+ hour game, looking at every det... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bykooledud March 26, 2017

One of the best storytelling games of all time

Night in the Woods is an amazing storytelling game. It's about a 20 year old cat named Mae who is dealing with hard stuff from her life and dropped out of... Continue reading

What's it about?

NIGHT IN THE WOODS is about an anthropomorphized cat named Mae, a college dropout who returns to her hometown of Possum Springs to reconnect with her family and friends. Once home, she tries to settle into her old routine by rejoining the band she and her friends started, settling back into her attic bedroom, and getting into all sorts of mischief around the town. The story is largely about Mae figuring out who she is now that she's dropped out of school. The town isn't how she remembered it, and the people she once knew have moved on with their lives. But there's more going on in Possum Springs. Mae discovers some very suspicious things, not least of which is a severed arm just lying in the street and a couple of kids who seem to have gone missing. Eventually, she and her friends take it upon themselves to begin investigating. Most of the game involves Mae simply chatting with friends and townspeople, but players also will encounter lots of interactive activities, including a rhythm-based music game, a challenge where a pair of friends try to stab each others' hands with knives, and even a complete game within a game -- a retro dungeon crawler -- that Mae can play on her computer in her bedroom.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about alcohol, drugs, and smoking. Some of the barely-out-of-high-school protagonists in Night in the Woods drink to excess and smoke heavily, but if your friends drank alcohol and smoked in front of you, would you feel comfortable intervening and saying something? Why, or why not?

  • Families also can discuss friendship. Do you think Mae's friends help her work through her problems and grow as a person? If so, how do they do this? Have you ever helped your friends get through a hard situation? Have they ever helped you? How did you feel about them afterward?

Game details

  • Platforms: Mac, PlayStation 4, Windows
  • Price: $19.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Finji
  • Release date: February 21, 2017
  • Genre: Adventure
  • ESRB rating: T for Fantasy Violence, Drug Reference, Language, Crude Humor, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco

For kids who love stories

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