Thursday, 4 May 2017

Night in the Woods: Small town blues

The following post contains spoilers for Night in the Woods.

I'm glad I made Re-Entry before I played Infinite Fall's Night in the Woods because if I hadn't, I'd have been pretty disheartened. Like Re-Entry, Night in the Woods is the story of a twenty-something dropout who returns to their rusty hometown, but unlike Re-Entry, Night in the Woods is a deft, atmospheric exploration of mental illness.

Oh, and it looks gorgeous.


In my last post I talked about Re-Entry's biggest shortcoming: the way mental health is gamified. There is a clear distinction in my game between thoughts/actions/words that have objectively positive outcomes, and those that have a detrimental effect on the protagonist's state of mind or self-image. It makes for good gameplay, but it also depicts mental health as a reward for saying or doing the right things. The reality, as Night in the Woods expresses, is far more complex, beautiful and sad.