I have no enthusiasm to keep playing Night In The Woods

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Posted by Sweep (10582 posts) -

Night In The Woods has been on my wishlist for a long time. Ever since it's inception in fact, from the earliest tweets and announcements surrounding the project. I even followed the developers on twitter. I say followed, because after a while I had to unfollow them. Because they wouldn't shut the fuck up.

I think that's a pretty perfect analogy for why I'm finding it so difficult to enjoy Night In The Woods. Aesthetically, it's gorgeous. The writing is, when you break down individual scenes, fantastic. The controls are responsive and tight, the entire thing feels unique and well crafted. This is all undermined by the game trying desperately hard to be edgy with every fibre of it's being. It's like someone took a novelty twitter account and stretched it out into a videogame.

No Caption Provided

It's relentless. It bounces between pithy tumblr-esque post-irony and overbearing profundities. It's like a generic romantic comedy that needs to prove, behind the goofs, there's some actual depth to it's characters.

Consequently I don't know where to place it. It feels both cartoonishly shallow and pretentiously deep.

It's a shame, because the setting, and general tone, feels perfect. I love the small-town america vibes, being caught up in the crumbling economy. I thought the character Bea was massively more interesting when she hated Mae, and I can relate to a lot of the individual scenes that take place; Getting drunk in front of old schoolfriends at a party and embarrassing yourself? Yeah bro, I know that feel. Returning home to find your old friends haven't moved on and they resent you for leaving? More than once.

Maybe I'm too old. Or maybe this game just makes me feel old. Those are very different things. Maybe the game is trying too hard to fit into a meta-millennial landscape and succeeding slightly too well.

Either way, I feel alienated to the extent I don't want to play any more.

Thanks For Reading

Love Sweep

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#1 Posted by Dixavd (2894 posts) -

Sucks that it's ended up disappointing you, especially given how excited you were with the concept, development, and framework of the game. Always more games in the sea though <3

Side-Note: The general views I've seen on Night in the Woods seems similar to that of Undertale to me (though to a subdued state). I heard a lot of early buzz talking about it as something you need to check out (but almost in a secretive way). Followed came a flood of positive stories, memes and fan art. And now I'm hearing mostly disappointed retorts. I wonder where, when things have died down, the general consensus is.

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#2 Edited by bybeach (6340 posts) -

I picked up the vibe from the Ql, and it seemed to me the premise it was based on, left behind American town folk, clashed with the hip give and take of the character interactions. At the end of the QL, I was hoping the protagonist figuratively speaking, would go back to college, mature, and do better then how I see us (me) old people doing today. And it would establish a mobility for the small town scene that probably doesn't really exist and I wish it would. Good reason for the meth and now heroin despair that goes on across much of America now. But the protagonist seemed more a creature of the contemporary twitter/online life, and I just don't know.

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#3 Posted by clagnaught (2113 posts) -

How far did you get? The game has four parts and an epilogue (I can't remember how many days there are in the game)

There are definitely times where the game has that vibe. You mentioned how it is millennial. To me it feels more like internet speak. At least it feels like it has that context, with Mae giving a monologue or complaining about something in five speech bubbles in a row, like someone wanted to create a Twitter thread about something. This or the millennial aspect didn't turn me off, but at times the game has this weird, "Somebody behind the scenes wrote this" vibe, which made me think "This isn't how people talk" (which isn't the best feeling to have while playing a narrative driven game somewhat grounded in real people and issues).

That said, I really liked Night in the Woods. I stuck with Bea whenever I could, because I wanted to see how that relationship plays out, and that arc is great. They do become closer, but they still hit a bump in the road towards the end of the game. Besides the main story, there's so much other great stuff in there, from Selmers, to Mom, to the church subplot. Overall there's some really profound stuff in the game and there are moments that make me think "This is one of the realest games I have ever play".

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#4 Posted by YummyTreeSap (1202 posts) -

I'm not very far into it yet, but I couldn't really disagree more. It's refreshing to play a game with imperfect and sometimes aimless and fucked up characters because it's relatable and human in a way video games never bother approaching. Then the Rust Belt setting/political backdrop is icing on the cake since video games and the general world itself would rather pretend we don't exist.

But again, I'm not very far into it so I guess my mind could change.

And Scott's a darling so that slight attack on him is a little weird.

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#5 Posted by Sweep (10582 posts) -

@yummytreesap: it wasn't what he was tweeting, just that there was so much of it. It was completely dominating my feed. No personal issues with the dude.

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#6 Posted by TwoLines (3654 posts) -

Hm. I liked it. But I do get how you feel about it. It's like an indie movie, very earnest and at the same time very quirky and charming and blehh. I do love the characters a lot though.

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#7 Posted by oueddy (127 posts) -

@sweep said:

@yummytreesap: it wasn't what he was tweeting, just that there was so much of it. It was completely dominating my feed. No personal issues with the dude.

You can't complain about someone tweeting too much when you choose to follow everyone on it!

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#8 Posted by dudeglove (13706 posts) -

is this video game's Garden State

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#9 Posted by Sweep (10582 posts) -

@oueddy: ....that's why I unfollowed. That was literally what I wrote in the first paragraph.

The point was there felt like a parallel between the guys constant need to voice his quirky sense of humour (Which I actually quite like) on twitter and the relentless tone of the game. It's similar to watching a tv drama by Aaron Sorkin, out of context each scene is clever, but after a few episodes it becomes slightly exhausting.

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#10 Edited by YummyTreeSap (1202 posts) -

is this video game's Garden State

Hell no.

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#11 Posted by oueddy (127 posts) -
@sweep said:

@oueddy: ....that's why I unfollowed. That was literally what I wrote in the first paragraph.

The point was there felt like a parallel between the guys constant need to voice his quirky sense of humour (Which I actually quite like) on twitter and the relentless tone of the game. It's similar to watching a tv drama by Aaron Sorkin, out of context each scene is clever, but after a few episodes it becomes slightly exhausting.

Don't get the artist confused with the art, we're all guilty of doing that and sometimes its almost impossible (read - JonTron)

I think the game you are looking for doesn't star the characters of the ages that are in this one. Have you ever watched a piece of media starring teen characters that aren't edgy or pretentious cynical shitbags?

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#12 Posted by Captain_Insano (3482 posts) -

Maybe try some of that sweet, sweet, Oxenfree

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#13 Edited by Sweep (10582 posts) -

@oueddy said:
@sweep said:

@oueddy: ....that's why I unfollowed. That was literally what I wrote in the first paragraph.

The point was there felt like a parallel between the guys constant need to voice his quirky sense of humour (Which I actually quite like) on twitter and the relentless tone of the game. It's similar to watching a tv drama by Aaron Sorkin, out of context each scene is clever, but after a few episodes it becomes slightly exhausting.

Don't get the artist confused with the art, we're all guilty of doing that and sometimes its almost impossible (read - JonTron)

I think the game you are looking for doesn't star the characters of the ages that are in this one. Have you ever watched a piece of media starring teen characters that aren't edgy or pretentious cynical shitbags?

I hope I'm not.... I think it's possible to stay objective and separate the two. I still purchased the game despite needing a break from the developers a long time ago. Though it's also obvious that with an indie game and such a small team that the personal influence would be much more apparent.

I think it's possible to portray teens as real human beings as oppose to millennial fever-dreams, yeah! It's also worth pointing out the characters in this game are actually 20 :P

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#14 Edited by audioBusting (2558 posts) -

I can see where the "edgy" comes from, but honestly it's more of a character trait for the main cast than the game as a whole. They're grown-up misfits who can't quite keep up with the world. (What I mean more specifically is, I don't get the feeling that we're supposed to like or celebrate the main cast, but just relate to them and try to understand where they're coming from.) The story delivers more varied interactions and takes a relatively more serious tone in later scenes. The cadence of the writing is just how it is though, that's just something you have to live with.

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#15 Posted by BigSocrates (1961 posts) -

@sweep said:

This is all undermined by the game trying desperately hard to be edgy with every fibre of it's being.

Edgy? In what way is the game edgy? If anything I thought it was sort of intentionally semi-wholesome, with coziness and a storybook aesthetic.

I get what you're saying otherwise, but I think the style is both intentional and self-aware. Yes the characters don't speak like actual humans, but they're also not humans, they're anthropomorphic animals. The game isn't going for realistic. It's intentionally stylized. I can understand not liking the style (I personally loved it) but it might help to try to engage with it from a different angle? The game is sort of impressionistic, and you see that clearest in the dream sequences but also in the "main" portions of the game. It's about mood and individual lines and relationships.

Is "Snack Falcon" a very precious name for a convenience store? Yes. But it's also staffed by an anthropomorphic fox. It's supposed to be precious. It's the kind of thing a certain type of young person thinks up while drinking in the park. These are those young people and this is their story.

I'm personally pretty darn old for the demographics of Giant Bomb and I was never this type of person (I have always been both serious and academically oriented) but I still really loved the game and its characters. They may not resonate with you but it's not because you're too old or they're too "edgy." It's because they don't resonate with you. Which is fine. We've all had characters that resonated with others not resonate with us.

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#16 Edited by GiantLennonx_x (388 posts) -

I just finished the game earlier and I overall really like it ^_^ I've spent some time around 20 year olds who *definitely* talk like that. The only thing about the game I have mixed feelings on was the ending. It felt like it took a hard right turn pretty quickly. Other than that though, I loved the characters the setting and the writing! It felt pretty honest and I identified with what alot of the characters were going through. It will probably end up being one of my favorites at the end of the year even though the last bit of it fell a little flat for me personally.

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#17 Posted by alphasquid (135 posts) -

There's not anything I can say to make you like it more but I'm not really getting what you mean by it being "edgy". It's humorous but it felt pretty genuine and accurate to the way people talk to me (although obviously funnier than the average person).

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#18 Posted by Sweep (10582 posts) -

@captain_insano: ooh yeah, you got the good stuff? Alright, I'm down to party. What else you got?

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#19 Posted by Milkman (19274 posts) -

I have no idea how the dialogue in Night in the Woods could possibly be classified as "edgy." Pithy, I get. There's some quirky, internet speakish stuff in there. A little overbearing? There's a couple spots where I felt that way, sure, even though I overall liked the game a lot. But "edgy" makes absolutely no sense to me.

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#20 Posted by Sweep (10582 posts) -

@milkman said:

I have no idea how the dialogue in Night in the Woods could possibly be classified as "edgy." Pithy, I get. There's some quirky, internet speakish stuff in there. A little overbearing? There's a couple spots where I felt that way, sure, even though I overall liked the game a lot. But "edgy" makes absolutely no sense to me.

Ok there's a bunch of people questioning my use of the word edgy, so to clarify:

No Caption Provided

I feel like the second definition is completely appropriate here.

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#21 Edited by ClairvoyantVibrations (1616 posts) -

@sweep: "edgy" is a word people throw around meaning one thing when really it kind of means something else entirely. There's "edgy" and theres "trying to be edgy", which you specified in the OP. I just don't think I agree.

I fall in the age-group of the characters in Night in the Woods, and I didn't feel like it was the bad kind of edgy. It felt like... I dunno. Actual avant-garde. It took the way a lot of people talk on the internet and the characters still felt human. It felt like how my friends and I talk. Online mostly, but that rhetoric and language finds it's way into spoken conversation. Where I feel a lot of similar adventure and platforming games explicitly attempt to avoid something that could be considered more "contemporary" writing, (Gone Home couching itself in a specific era, Oxenfree being a love-letter to 80s teen fiction) or dispose of writing entirely (Inside, Virginia), Night in the Woods just goes for it, and personally I think it's better for doing so.

The topics of conversation also felt similar to ones I had through high school, and that continue into my 20s. 20-somethings generally don't have their shit together, they say stupid things, they fuck up, and they have the conversations that the characters in the game have. Either with themselves or other people. It feels honest. It feels real.

When I turned 20 I wasn't magically just *poof* not a teen, no more teen problems. Time doesn't work like that. I had the same anxieties. I still have similar anxieties. Growing up for some people is a really difficult thing to do, and I feel like Night in the Woods understands that. I also think that's why it may not be for everyone. Because not everyone was like that.

It's funny. Someone in the thread mentioned Oxenfree and I had a similar issue with that asSweep is having with NITW. I think for me it was the voice acting. I didn't think it was bad, or "edgy" or whatever. Just didn't hit for me. Still think Oxenfree is a fine game though.

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#22 Posted by NTM (11640 posts) -

I know this is almost a year old, but I just started playing the game now since I wanted to play something I haven't played yet as I wait for new games from this year. My feeling is that the writing is really well-written. Despite it having characters that have personalities that I probably wouldn't have hung out with around that age group (though I wouldn't have disliked mind you), they still seem realistic like you know people that are like these characters. The dialogue reads a lot like what many younger people (as in two or more years younger than myself) might sound like or have sounded like around the characters' ages. The way the world is is also great. I'm not too far into the game, but the mall section was kind of sad.

I don't think any mall around where I live is that empty, but we sometimes hear about how malls are losing business due to things like Amazon. I remember going to the mall a lot in high school, so that was relatable. There are quite a few things in the game that are relatable, be it someone's personalities and issues, or the way the world is currently working. When it comes to video games and these kinds of indie or indie-like coming of age stories or what have you, I can generally look past the writing that doesn't really speak to me in terms of being personally relatable as if I spoke that way because I know there are people that do. I think it captures some younger peoples personalities well, and the way friends act around one another.

I like the art, but I am curious why they chose to go with anthropomorphism.

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#24 Posted by Humanity (18632 posts) -

I’m on the Sweep side of the spectrum here where I could not relate to or really appreciate much of the writi g or characters, Mae especially. I’ve read a lot of reviewers and industry people around my age gush about it - heard Alex hold it in high praise - yet from beginning to the very end I couldn’t form a connection. While the writing in Life is Strange was sometimes hit or miss, the end of that game left me emotionally shaken in a way I didn’t expect. The best I could say for Night in the Woods was that the end left me feeling indifferent, and at worst I was relieved to be finally done with it.

I’m in my early 30’s so I don’t know what it is but I don’t remember any friends or situations like these. Nothing that comes close. The overwriten dialog seems like aliens came to earth, studied Twitter and created a facimile of “teens” complete with their own town problems that awkwardly mix social issues with goofy horror. It also didn’t help that I absolutely could not relate to Mae and thought she was the worst character both in terms of writing and how awful she was to all her other friends.

Not every game is for everyone I suppose.

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#25 Posted by Atlas (2738 posts) -

I also bounced off this game hard after getting to Act 3. The big problem for me is that I relate to almost none of the experiences of the characters in the game, which I feel like is a necessity and a huge part of the appeal. I also heard the ending was very unsatisfying. And as for the dream-state stuff, I have no idea where it was supposed to be going and I was not engaged in it at all.

For a lot of people, a very earnest and heartfelt game about what it's like to come back to a small town is very poignant, but it didn't do much for me because that's not an experience I relate to at all. If part of the appeal is that it's a real slice of small-town Americana, then what am I as an European, specifically a Brit, supposed to feel about that? I don't think that's a question that the developers ever thought to address, and that's okay, because people love their game and I'm happy to be in the minority. In a way, I feel bad that I couldn't finish the game, because I really enjoyed certain aspects of it - the music is fantastic, I love the look of the game, and some of the dialogue and scenarios are very funny. It's a charming game, but sometimes charm isn't enough.

I wasn't a shitty teenager who went around breaking things for fun, I was a fuck-up, but not that kind of fuck-up. I never drank or smoke, I was never in a band, I love my parents to death, we were never poor, I didn't have friends that went through experiences like those explored in the game (I didn't really have friends, which I guess is part of the problem). I've lived in a major city (London) my whole life, and even though the place I've grown up has changed a lot in that time, the change is more about gentrification than desolation; my part of the world has gone up, not down, although that's probably a shitty way of phrasing it. So taking all of that into account, yeah, I thought the main character was shitty and a lot of what you do in the game are things I'd have never chosen to do, but I guess that's to be expected.

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#26 Posted by Coryukin (109 posts) -

I couldn't agree more with you here. The game gave me the vibe you speak of. The game is trying way too hard. The dialogue is so incredibly heavy handed. The game felt like a giant tumblr meme. If I didn't know they were trying to be serious in some spots, I might think that the game was supposed to be a caricature of sorts.

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#27 Posted by FrostyRyan (2909 posts) -

I'm just here to say what Mae goes through in this game is one of the most moving things I've seen in a game. The reveal of the incident got to me.

I've been there. The thoughts in my brain just couldn't take it anymore and I snapped one day for...basically no real reason.

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#28 Posted by SethMode (1928 posts) -

Yeah, Mae's journey is a personal one that hit home for me. Thought they did a great job.

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#30 Posted by Kontrapunkt (424 posts) -

In address to the criticisms of 'edgy' dialogue here, it wasn't something I was taken aback by until reading this thread. It made me reflect and although no one cites any particular example, my general perception would be that, whatever people are perceiving as pretentious made a lot of sense to me in the contest of Mae's character: a 20yr old who has maybe failed to address mental-health concerns and not managed to grow up-- the mangled way that Mae half expresses how she's feeling and what she's going through, and the fights with Bea, I thought those were two examples which are very intense and personal moments in which Mae is covering a lot of emotional distance internally and with those she's speaking with. This is a character who hasn't opened up before, at all, stories she's never told and her expression can hardly keep up with what she's feeling or gone through 'cos she hasn't taken the time to work through these things, and while it could come off as being odd, experiencing that first awkward fumbling as essentially an audience to a train wreck that felt incredibly real and relatable to me and added a authenticity which I will personally treasure.

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#31 Posted by sparky_buzzsaw (8844 posts) -

I realize I'm a year and a half late to this, but having just finished this game, I'm with you, Sweep. Now if I could play this game from the viewpoint of the bad guys, that might be interesting. But I don't really want to ever play a game again where a character drops out of college because, I don't know, life is tough, then who comes home, gets depressed because her parents aren't making enough money, and then proceeds to do fuck-all to help anyone or anything. That's not a game. That's just 95% of my graduating class before they realize that they can't get Netflix for free anymore. The game even ends on the most eye-rolling existential "let's do nothing about the situation and grab a pizza because tomorrow sucks so let's jsut worry about right now" moment. Jesus, did I loathe the last act and a half of this game.

It's John Dies at the End except instead of a face-off with the big bad villain, the characters decide to make armpit noises and walk off the book's pages. It's like Garden State except the structure falls apart the moment you begin plucking at the plot strings, like the ghost or the consequences of just about any interaction. It's Hot Fuzz without an ounce of anything that movie had going for it. The dialogue is good, the scene where Mae sleeps and her grandfather sneaks in to sit beside her is surprisingly touching, and the game is genuinely funny in spurts. Everything else makes me wish I'd have given up in the first hour.

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#32 Posted by geirr (3751 posts) -

I don't worry about what the writers intended,
or what people judged their writing to be,
and just enjoyed the game's world, characters and story.

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