Analysis of Night in the Woods
Although little by little this medium is changing and evolving, we continue with an overwhelming dominance of the playable proposals that revolve around heroism and violence.
The problem is not that they are there, as they are in film and literature, but their hoarding of this form of art. Luckily, several works from last year have been
put in place, such as Firewatch, Inside and The Witness. This 2017 begins strong in this sense thanks to the work of Infinite Fall, funded on Kickstarter at the end of 2013 and that did not see the light until last week: Night in the Woods .
The game of Alec Holowka, Scott Benson and Bethany Hockenberry puts us in the feline skin of Mae, a 20-year-old girl who leaves the
University to return to her hometown miner, Possum Springs, and recover the relationship with her friends from all over the world. life, with his family, with his environment. But you will find that everything is different.
Your friends have grown, changed, work, have obligations and concerns. Her parents have financial problems and they feel distant, they are not the ones who were just like she is not the one she was. And the city has suffered the jealousy of corporate capitalism,
of large shopping centers on the outskirts and of economic “evolution”, leaving behind closed shops, people (animals in this case) without work and a tense atmosphere in each of the streets.
Night in the Woods is a punk cry in the form of interactive drama with political and economic criticism, existential questioning, distortion of the media
and rethinking the meaning of social relationships and friendship. All this surrounded by the absurd and naïve humor, but deep and critical at the same time, of a group of pre-adults of 20 years whose life until recently was based
on playing video games, going around the town and eating pizza. This takes place in an open cityTwo-dimensional (which is expanding little by little)
where we talk to the residents of Possum Springs, who tell us their concerns, try to cheer us up with a joke or a poem, give us context of what has happened in the town, are apathetic or mysterious or
give us clues to Mae’s dark past. We also chatted, before leaving each morning, with our mother, who tries to make us talk about what happened so that
Mae leaves behind her university future, and at night, with our father, representation of the grown-up man tired of working whose only hobby is to sit in front of the silly box (distorted and “esperpentizada” here to the maximum) until the next day.
But most of the time we will spend it, like any person of this age, with our friends, to which we are rediscovering little by little throughout the course of the days.
Bea, a Gothic girl who has had to take over from one day to the next an avalanche of responsibilities; Gregg, a guy who leaves his job in a food chain constantly
to go around the city with us; and her boyfriend, an adorable little bear that gives a sensible view of the things in the conversations and who, together with Gregg and Mae herself,
offer that absurd key of humor that we mentioned. These dialogues (in English)they are influenced by recent interactive drama, with titles like
Oxenfree among the main references: dialogues with some options that can change the course of events or conversations that we can miss if we do not follow the group that is chatting. It may be the case, for example, that in the
morning when we get up we see on our laptop that both Bea and Gregg want to stay, and depending on the decisions we make with one or the other when we go
to talk to them, we can do the two activities that propose us or renounce one of them, that we will never have the opportunity to do again, losing the consequent dialogues and traces of history.
These activities add a touch of variety to the game and go from the recurrent rehearsals of the rock-punk group of friends, where Mae plays the
bass and we propose a fun minigame similar to Guitar Hero, to other more simple, like eating pizza , a knife fight or shoot a crossbow. But little by little Mae’s relaxed and sabbatical life is twisting. Since the group of friends find, almost at the
beginning of the adventure, a mutilated arm in the middle of the sidewalk, the story is wrapped in a mystery and paranormal plot, which will affect
Mae at night, as she will have dream dreams as a platform game, something simple but that they give to the passing of the game, of between
6 or 8 hours of duration, a grateful change of pace and mechanics. All this is evolving building a story as sentimentally complex as the issues it deals with.
On the other hand, the artistic style, both visually and musically, they form a fundamental part of the adventure, giving weight to each of the
elements that are wanted to be transmitted: the buenrrollismo of a happy sunny day for Mae is shown with warm colors and cheerful themes.
The anxiety that the protagonist produces a conversation about why she has left the university is represented, as soon as she leaves home, like a gray day, with slow and melancholic music.
The design of characters, two-dimensional scenarios, as if they were cardboard but with several layers, is original, adorable and sufficient to represent moods in a conversation with the movement of the eyes of animals. The soundtrack, by Alex Holowka,
is one of those that we will have stored for a long time in the markers of our browser, transmitting from one track to another happiness, security,
desolation, tension, worry … The sound effects meet a special function here: the scenarios, being flat and not showing the textures, do not
allow us to perceive simple things like in what type of terrain we are walking; the sound effects serve, in short, to make us see what we do not see.