Night in the Woods is less than the sum of its excellent parts, but is still a great game.

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Posted by BigSocrates (1463 posts) -

I did not grow up in a small town but my parents had a house just outside of one that we’d go to on the weekends. In many ways Night in the Woods captures the rhythms of that kind of American community, where people actually do know their neighbors’ names and the things that seem truly important are the local happenings around your neighborhood, rather than whatever’s going on in some city hundreds of miles away or in another country across an ocean.

Possum Springs has a history as a mining town, and you'll learn much more about the town's past than you will about whatever's going on in the world at large during the course of the game.
Possum Springs has a history as a mining town, and you'll learn much more about the town's past than you will about whatever's going on in the world at large during the course of the game.

Night in the Woods unfurls like a literary novel, set in a very particular community with a specific set of characters, and focused more on showing the player what those characters feel and who they are than on telling a strong or urgent story. Night in the Woods doesn’t have the graphical fidelity or scope of an open world game, but it paints an emotional sense of place stronger than any video game I have played before, and makes Possum Springs feel like a living, lived in, small city.

The size of the buildings in Possum Springs indicates more of a small city than a tiny town, though the story itself suggests it might only have a thousand people or so.
The size of the buildings in Possum Springs indicates more of a small city than a tiny town, though the story itself suggests it might only have a thousand people or so.

I would say that was Night in the Woods’ greatest strength but it’s really its second greatest, behind the music, which is just phenomenal, and ahead of its third and fourth greatest strengths, the visual style and the characters.

This game is beautiful, and its characters are tons of fun to hang out with. Many aspects of the game are absolute home runs.
This game is beautiful, and its characters are tons of fun to hang out with. Many aspects of the game are absolute home runs.

At its core Night in the Woods is kind of like a 2D walking simulator, with some light platforming and very light puzzle elements, and a ton of charm. The writing is (mostly) sharp, the visuals are fantastic, and it’s the kind of game that includes both an overhead dungeon action game as a game within a game AND a well-polished rhythm minigame that is both fun and challenging, and marred only by the fact that you are somehow expected to read the subtitled lyrics and respond to a very fast note highway simultaneously, which I could not do.

Demon Tower is legitimately fun as an overhead action game and would be worth at least $5 on its own, more if it were just a little bit longer. Also see those red guys at the top of the screen? Screw those red guys! Those red guys are assholes!
Demon Tower is legitimately fun as an overhead action game and would be worth at least $5 on its own, more if it were just a little bit longer. Also see those red guys at the top of the screen? Screw those red guys! Those red guys are assholes!

In some ways Night in the Woods seems like it was strongly influenced by Ron Gilbert’s “The Cave," being a mostly narrative experience with some light platforming and more repetition than you’d like (the game uses repetition thematically, to create a sense of place and familiarity, but it also requires traversing the same easy areas again and again, especially if you want to do the game’s side-stories.) In others it seems almost like a visual novel, with lots of text, a few key choices that lock out other options, and very little gameplay.

Prepare to spend a lot of time perched atop (the same) powerlines.
Prepare to spend a lot of time perched atop (the same) powerlines.

That’s not to say that Night in the Woods doesn’t feel original, because it does. The striking art style does a lot to make the game stand out, since few games use these kinds of clean illustrations and bold colors, but even more than that Night in the Woods stands out from the way its writing hews closer to an independent film about a group of friends in a crumbling town than the traditional video game stories about adventure and violence. This is a story about characters who feel real and grounded, despite being anthropomorphic animals, and their experiences in a (mostly) normal situation in a (mostly) normal place. Mae Borowski, the protagonist, is a fantastic, layered character. She’s brave and strong, yes, but she’s also petulant, selfish, stubborn, self-doubting, and real. She is a step forward in relatable video game protagonists and while I didn’t always agree with what she did or the choices she made I always felt connected to her and her story.

Mae can be dense at times but she is a wonderful character overall. And Bea. Don't get me started on Bea. Bea is so good!
Mae can be dense at times but she is a wonderful character overall. And Bea. Don't get me started on Bea. Bea is so good!

Night in the Woods also engages with very adult themes, ranging from love and sexuality to the pain of growing up, being unpopular, the economic decline of the American middle class, how much it sucks to do a job you hate, and a lot of other important, interesting material. Most games that try to be about something real are ABOUT it in a way that's too focused to feel subtle and real. This is one of the reasons I didn't like Gone Home, because it was so focused on what was going on with the sister character that it shortchanged everything else in the family's life, pushing it to the periphery. Firewatch gets around this by moving its characters out to a national park, where their relationship is literally the only thing they have going on, but that's a bit of sleight-of-hand that Night in the Woods doesn't need. It is confident enough to tell a story about people and let the themes emerge more organically.

One thing that's not explained: Mae is a cat-person but there are also cat-cats in the game. What kind of Goofy/Pluto madness is this? Nobody comments on it!
One thing that's not explained: Mae is a cat-person but there are also cat-cats in the game. What kind of Goofy/Pluto madness is this? Nobody comments on it!

So why, if I like so much about Night in the Woods, do I say that it is less than the sum of its parts? Some of it is due to pacing problems caused by the fact that you have to check a lot of areas on the map for every day in the game, often to find there's nothing there, and I also have some other minor complaints (some of the minigames aren’t very engaging; after you finish the game you can either resume from right AT the end or you can clear your save but you can’t do a new-game+ or pick a chapter to play again, which this game SORELY needs.) Mostly though, the game is betrayed by its ending, which is, if not objectively terrible, than at least of far lesser quality than what came before it (I am specifically talking about the part BEFORE the epilogue.) The ending undercuts everything that has come before it and is a very confusing choice from a game that doesn’t make many false steps in its first three quarters.

The dream sequences can be spooky and weird, and add to the ambiance of the game. They also have some of the best music in a game with a spectacular soundtrack.
The dream sequences can be spooky and weird, and add to the ambiance of the game. They also have some of the best music in a game with a spectacular soundtrack.

I need to get more spoilery to explain specifics.

The game ends by revealing that the thing Mae thought was a ghost was actually a member of a cult that sacrifices people to some ancient entity in order to bring prosperity to the town...which isn't actually all that prosperous anyway. Some members of the cult have magical powers. It's silly, disjointed, and opens a host of questions it does not answer. In a normal game it would just be normal bad game writing, but in Night in the Woods it plays out like the incredible writer who wrote most of the game left the script open on their computer and their punk 12-year-old brother got into it and wrote some third-rate Lovecraftian bullshit, then everyone decided to just go with it.

I am fine with the game having supernatural elements, since they are hinted out throughout, but the whole Cthulhu thing was just silly, and way too hamfisted. I get it, the Cthulhu creature represents the needs of the town, sacrificing the young so that the old can thrive, and the dad cult wants induct Mae and friends so that they can reproduce the oppression. But the game has already surfaced those themes and it didn’t need to be ridiculous to get them across. And the ending was ridiculous. And confusing. And features no meaningful choices in a game that thrives on its meaningful choices. Also all of the carefully drawn characters act very oddly during the ending, including Gregg having a crossbow out of nowhere (maybe it appears earlier if you do stuff with him, I was team Bea all the way) and the writing is significantly worse and more confused than in the rest of the game. Was Aunt Mallcop in on it and that’s why she didn’t find anything investigating and why she never appears after the cave-in? Who knows. The game loses all interest in the stories it was telling in order to do all this stupid stuff. The existence of the Cthulhu monster also invalidates the importance of the lives of the actual characters, since people are being murdered and fed to an ancient evil. Who the hell cares that Bea never got to go to college when there’s a literal Cthulhu living under the town? Maybe the game wants to say we NEED to care anyway, but I didn't. The existential threat is much more important than the emotional growth of the characters. Also, presumably, there are like a dozen important men from town missing and SOMEONE’S going to notice so the game doesn’t so much resolve its story as turn it into a much BIGGER story and then promptly abandon it (and acknowledging that by saying “pizza and beer are enough for now!” is definitely not satisfying.) The whole thing just left me annoyed and disappointed after I felt like I was playing a masterpiece, and I don’t know how the people who wrote a character like Mae Borowski thought that this was the right way to end the game. It feels like a twist for the sake of a twist; if they wanted to do something supernatural they could have done something much less jarring with the ghost story the game seems to be telling.

The fact that Night in the Woods botches the landing doesn’t take away from the good, even great, elements. It is still a beautiful game, Possum Springs is still a wonderful place to visit, and that soundtrack is one of the best I’ve ever heard. It is also a game that handles very mature themes very well, and I sincerely hope that future games learn from how Night in the Woods tells its story, at least until the end.

Mae IS Witchdagger. This game looks fantastic.
Mae IS Witchdagger. This game looks fantastic.

Some good games can be really ruined by a bad ending or a story that proves ultimately incoherent, but Night in the Woods is not such a game. For one thing it is longer than most games in this style; I think I probably put in about 10 hours (doing lots of side stuff and probably 2 hours playing Demontower, the game within a game). For another it’s fairly modular, broken into acts and chapters, and some of those self-contained stories are just gems.

It doesn't matter how the game ends, the journey is well worth taking. Nothing can take my fun times with Bea away. Nothing!
It doesn't matter how the game ends, the journey is well worth taking. Nothing can take my fun times with Bea away. Nothing!

You also cannot ruin beautiful art and great music through bad storytelling.

But if Night in the Woods had chosen to stick to the things it was doing so well and had wrapped up in a way I found satisfying I would probably count it as one of my favorite games of all time. As it is I consider it a flawed masterpiece; aesthetically beautiful and a strong step forward for video game storytelling, but with a big glaring issue that makes the whole package less compelling than the elements that make it up.

I hope more games get built on the strong foundation of Night in the Woods' storytelling style.
I hope more games get built on the strong foundation of Night in the Woods' storytelling style.

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#1 Edited by uh20 (1 posts) -

Hard to get deep without spoilers but I have a nuanced disagreement with it being a *botched/bad ending* since there are basically two common conclusions. One of such benefits a lot more from the ending than the other.

It seems to me that the real issue was that the two parts are wildly disconnected from one another. And if the two were overlapped better, they both would feel important.

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#2 Posted by BigSocrates (1463 posts) -

@uh20: I think I understand what you're saying, and I agree that the bigger issue than the ending itself is the way it doesn't fit with the rest of the story, but I think even if the game did more to set that ending up it would not have been good. It feels disjointed, contrived, and the dialog is, frankly, weaker than it is in most of the game.

I think you may have edited your post, which previously said you couldn't fully explain yourself without spoilers. The comments at Giantbomb allow for spoiler tags (you can see them on the lower left of the comment toolbar) so I'd love to read whatever specific comments you have, and you can use the spoiler tags to make sure that nobody who doesn't want to see spoilers gets...spoiled.

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#3 Posted by chilibubba26 (3 posts) -

I loved this game and would put it as one of my favorites in recent memory, but I agree that the ending certainly hurts the game's momentum and makes me a little less enthusiastic about the game than I want to be.

Keep in mind that I just finished the game, so the ending of that game is a little messy in my head right now, but yeah... that went somewhere else, didn't it? While I was playing through this section, I was thinking that a majority of it was in in Mae's head. I thought the scene with Mae and Bea on the couch was great. We find out about the often vaguely mentioned softball incident and we find out a lot about Mae's headspace that we (or at least I) did not quite know about. For a majority of the game, we get Mae's emotions externally, through what she says and her nonverbal gestures, but here, Mae is able to explain her emotions in such a way (everyone/thing being an insignificant shape), that I think it changes everything we have experienced with her before in a slightly different way. This seemed to be an interesting point of view of what depression or perhaps even a mental disability of sort feels like. I thought that she was so worn out mentally and emotionally that she was truly losing it and was seeing things, but I suppose not entirely. Then, the game shows us that this cult stuff and the supernatural stuff surrounding the cult is real and the events of all of the cult-related activities are confirmed by the other characters. This doesn't necessarily take everything away from the revelations that we have found out about Mae, but it takes the focus away from it more than I'd prefer. I think the strongest aspect of this game is how it focuses on the combination of sadness and comedy in one's life, and the cult thing just distracts from that... I'm still confused on some of the more specific aspects the relationship between that cult and the supernatural. The epilogue ties up several loose ends, but the whole cult thing still hangs over the game once the credits roll.

Regardless, I agree that despite the ending, Night in the Woods is a great game with a lot of memorable moments, both poignant and funny.

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#4 Posted by p4r4digm (7 posts) -

This is a well thought and thorough write up. I just finished the game moments ago and similarly I am so very conflicted

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#5 Posted by GunslingerPanda (5175 posts) -

I agree with most of your points, particularly the ending being underwhelming and detracting from the rest of the game.

Mae's such an arsehole but I love her.

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#6 Edited by elmorales94 (50 posts) -

I feel like we somehow saw completely different endings.

I never saw any substantive evidence of supernatural happenings. Mae spends the entire game chasing a "ghost" that any reasonable player will understand is actually just a person, and the end sequence follows through on this theme. I don't recall ever seeing a Cthulhu-type creature in this game, and my assumption is that you're referring to the "beast" in the hole. All of the confrontations with Gods and such are simply delusions--Mae just happens to be sharing/buying into a mass delusion with the members of the mine cult when it comes to this "beast." I'm drawing a blank on instances of cult members with supernatural powers too, but I was reading through the ending fairly briskly.

As for how the cult brings prosperity to a town that isn't very prosperous, they imply that they may at times have abandoned their sacrificial practices and been punished with floods and blizzards, but that's largely inference on my part from a couple of quick lines of dialogue. The writing definitely could have been better around that point. The fact that Possum Springs still sucks after decades of sacrifice, though, lends credence to the idea that the "Cthulhu" under the town is just a coping mechanism for the cult--a delusion.

I agree that knocking on the doorstep of cosmic horror seems out of place for such a thoroughly grounded game, but I don't think they ever truly get there. Much like Gregg, Bea, and Angus keeping telling Mae throughout the game: every other explanation makes so much more sense. In broaching cosmic horror how they do, they're able to more specifically flesh out Mae's mental state, and that feels as real as any other part of this game.

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#7 Posted by BigSocrates (1463 posts) -

@elmorales94:

Ending spoilers follow:

I think the supernatural element is established in the game. When the cultist grabs the kid he escapes through a fence, and a big deal is made about this, how nobody could hop over the fence or go around it. However the cultists say that the "beast" grants certain members of the cult the ability to pass through solid objects. This explains how he got through the fence with the kid, and the game provides no other explanation to something it calls out. In addition, I believe the cultist who grabs Mae after they take the elevator up passes through the wall to seize her. Another example of this power.

Mae's weakness and headaches are also resolved after the encounter, and maybe that's psychological but the cultists say they've seen others with her symptoms and that the beast is calling to her. This is also consistent with Lovecraftian stories and the powers of elder god types. The Janitor is also implied to be some kind of benevolent superpowerful being, which is yet ANOTHER piece of evidence in favor of supernatural elements in the story.

However, even if the cultists are delusional and there is no beast (though note that neither Mae nor her friends seem to doubt them after the encounter, which you would expect from someone like Bea or Angus) the cult is a bad ending to the game. The game has been about how small things matter and about real life. Bea's concerns about her father's business and situation are big dramatic issues that drive her character. To suddenly bring in a death cult and have Bea be responsible for a dozen deaths completely weakens her arc. Up until that point Bea's biggest concern is that she never went to college and she feels stuck in her life. And it's an important concern that we care about. The death cult wipes that all away, because who cares if you never went to college if you're also responsible for a dozen murders. It totally throws off the stakes of the story. The same is true for the other characters. Who cares that Mae's dad doesn't like his job and they're underwater on the mortgage, there's a DEATH CULT in town. It's too big. The game might want to say "It all matters, even with a death cult" but for me it doesn't. The death cult diminishes the story the game was telling.

It also causes the story to end at a weird place. A dozen important people from town are missing. There's going to be a big investigation, this story is just getting started. Instead the game lampshades it with some dialog and ends. It's bad. And the encounter with the cultists is disjointed and badly written, and the whole thing is just a mess. Even without the supernatural.

A smaller ending would have been better. One that focused on character and friendship, the way the game did until then. It could be that there was a single ghost and the gang talk to him and he agrees to stop haunting the town and then they are left in their lives without this quest and Mae has to grow up. Or there's no ghost, it turns out it was all a prank and the kidnapped kid was in on it, and same thing. It brings the focus back on the strength of the game, which is not plot and big cosmic conflict but small, character based, vignette storytelling.

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#8 Edited by Boonsong (1004 posts) -

About the ending:

I was sort of "hoping" that all of the supernatural things Mae saw and experienced simply had to do with her mental state. Because they talk a fair bit about some of the issues she has had do deal with, and about possible undiagnosed disorders, and stress and whatnot. Any of that to me would have been a much more appropriate explanation, and if done right way more powerful and meaningful than the sudden realization of a satanic cult run by conservative elders.

That said, I do think they did a solid job with the choices they decided to go with.

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#9 Posted by elmorales94 (50 posts) -

@bigsocrates:

All perfectly valid points. I'm not necessarily trying to dispute you-- more just trying to share my interpretation of the ending. The devs have been fairly candid in recognizing that both interpretations have can be valid, and I very much appreciate that this game leaves enough room for both of these vastly different conclusions to be drawn. I've just adopted this interpretation for myself because it is a better thematic fit, as well as a more interesting narrative direction. But to each their own.

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#10 Posted by avidwriter (709 posts) -

@gunslingerpanda: 100% I feel the game didn't earn that ending. It was all over the map and then BAM! the ending was out of another freaking game completely...

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#11 Posted by Zalrus9 (214 posts) -

I really needed this game. It came out at a time that I also felt like Mae, very disjointed and confused. I thought it was very cathartic. I hope to finish it soon.

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#12 Posted by oueddy (95 posts) -

As has been said by others in spoiler terms, don't take the ending so literally. This was a fantastic game that did a good job at covering the seemingly impossible - the feeling of being in a broken mental state that you cannot fix. Depression quest is the only other game that's done as well. What occurred in the story outside of the 'norm' helped to provide tension and drama to a dying town.

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#13 Posted by BigSocrates (1463 posts) -

@oueddy: I don't really understand your comment. Don't take the ending literally? I didn't like it, either tonally or as a plot twist. It doesn't matter if it actually occurred within the game or was some weird delusion. It wasn't well done and didn't fit with the rest of the game.

I will say that 3 weeks after finishing the game, having given it time to settle, I agree even more with what I wrote. I have a lot of pleasant memories from individual episodes in the game and I think the art, music, and characters were spectacular, but the whole thing doesn't really fit together as a whole in my memory. It's inconsistent, not just with the ending but in other pieces, and its best parts are the vignettes of small town life. Not that there's anything super wrong with that. I still really liked the game! I just wish it fit together a bit tighter.

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#14 Posted by oueddy (95 posts) -

I don't expect to change whether you liked it or not, that's not possible, just explain my thoughts!

If it hadnt had more thrilling and seemingly supernatural thematic elements to it, would there have actually been anything worth playing for? I agree it was a fantastic slice of small town life, but its pacing was pretty darn slow (as you mentioned!) and without something to latch onto, it would have been a struggle to keep going. Did you ever watch or play Deadly Premonition and wish it'd just been about driving round town? What about Virginia or Firewatch (which you mentioned)? There's enough examples of similar mysteries to solve and Virginia used jump cuts and warped imagery to show the experience of an LSD trip that similarly did not 'fit' with the rest of the game.

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#15 Posted by BigSocrates (1463 posts) -

@oueddy: I'm not criticizing that there were supernatural elements, I'm criticizing the specific elements that were in the game, and how the ending was handled. I think the game actually would have been fine without them, since they don't really surface towards the end anyway and the best parts of the game were the town/character moments, but the issue is with execution, not concept. The way it was done was bad. The ending was bad, both because it was clunky in itself and because it didn't fit with the rest of the game.

Also, Deadly Premonition with no supernatural elements and especially no long stupid ghost shooting sequences sounds great. The parts of that game that are good are the Twin Peaksy townfolks and Agent Morgan talking to Zach. The whole actual plot of the game? Meh. And the ghost shooting sequences were the worst part.

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#16 Posted by alex (3508 posts) -

I don't have time to write out a long thing about this, but I'll just say for my part, I think the ending is quite good. I enjoyed the way the more supernatural/spiritual elements of the story were lightly dusted throughout the story, and while it does take a sharp turn toward the end, I don't think it's unearned at all. It fits with the themes of the story, and it's not so over-the-top that it feels antithetical to the tone of what you've been playing up to that point.

Understand if it didn't resonate for you, but it hit me just about right. Then again, I'm a sucker for spooky weirdness and cosmic dread, so maybe I'm just predisposed to this sort of thing.

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#17 Posted by BigSocrates (1463 posts) -

@alex: I can see see why you would like it for its "Spooky/weirdness cosmic dread" elements, but my criticism isn't exactly that it's unearned, it's more...logistics.

The death cult just doesn't seem to fit in with what we've been told in the game leading up to it. There's that one boy who has been missing for awhile, but otherwise there's not really a discussion of a rash of disappearances, and when Mae tries to find out if anyone disappeared after she witnesses the abduction she's told that no, everyone is accounted for. They paper this over by saying that the cult goes after "drifters" and people who won't be missed, but we actually see a drifter in the game, the guy who is camping behind the church, and the pastor is looking out for him so that doesn't fit with the town either. That whole arc also seems odd in light of the death cult...are the people who don't want to let him stay in the church supposed to be part of the cult? Are they an analog to it? The supernatural happenings described were just too big to be hidden away in such a small town.

Then there's the fact that Mae and friends basically wipe out the town's elite in the cave-in, which means that things are going to radically change, but instead of seeing that change or grappling with the implications they just go to band practice and freeze frame. This makes all the earlier stuff from the rest of the game seem pretty unimportant. I was super invested in Bea's struggle around whether to run her father's store, or go to college, and how to build a life for herself, but it turns out those decisions didn't matter because she's going to jail for killing the town elders, or being swallowed by a cosmic horror or whatever. The life she was trying to make just got upended but we don't see any of that, and it diminishes the importance of what came before, at least for me. And one of the things I liked about the game is that it made those real life tough decisions important, and a focus. We're never going to face a cosmic horror but most of us will have to decide how much to sacrifice to help someone we love, and how to balance our personal ambitions with our family's needs.

Finally, the metaphor of a cult of old men sacrificing young people to preserve the wealth and power of a town was just a little too on the nose for me. That's just a personal thing, but I felt like it was a groaner.

So I get what you're saying, and obviously I respect your opinion and the way the game resonated with you, but I'm still frustrated with how it ended. Though I don't want to be too negative. As I said in my original post I still really really liked the game.

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#18 Posted by geirr (3345 posts) -

Just gotta slip this in, me and my wife loved this game but we both kind of hated the death cult thing. Still it's memorable and well worth the time we put into it; I still think about this game almost every day and I feel my life is lacking a little something now that it's over. I just want to see more of those characters. I hope they're okay.

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#19 Posted by alex (3508 posts) -

@bigsocrates: A couple of things. I'll put 'em in spoiler blocks for those who don't want the full discussion.

One, I don't think it was ever implied that the cult members are the town's "elite," exactly. Just people who've been there for a long time, and who are invested in the town's prosperity to the point of madness. One of them I think even says that they're just people you've seen day-to-day, but not necessarily anyone you'd notice. While I think a dozen or so people disappearing from the town suddenly would be noticed, it's not necessarily the most important people in town. Also, the kid who goes missing that one night I believe was said to be a kid from out-of-town. They briefly mention where that kid was from, but I can't remember the name of the place off the top of my head.

As for the drifter and the chamber of commerce/city council people, I think the implication there was that because Pastor K was looking out for him, he wasn't someone that could just be abducted without anyone noticing. It's possible that one or more of the people from that group was part of the cult, but that's never explained in detail. Their reasons for not wanting him around could have been taken at face value, or maybe there was something more sinister there.

I also disagree that the last scene somehow renders the previous events unimportant. The four friends end up experiencing something very strange, something that nobody else in town seemingly knows about. It's a device to kind of bind them together at the end, but I think it also speaks to one of the game's main themes, which is about trying to recapture something long gone. For Mae, it's trying to restart her life in the town, and finding that difficult to achieve. On the larger scale, it's people literally sacrificing bodies out of some misguided desperation for recapturing a bygone era, and possibly out of pure superstition. It might be very on-the-nose, but for me, it vibed with what I took from the game's larger storytelling, and especially some of the more religious themes you get from the dream sequences and constellation mythology. And considering we live in a time when a large portion of the population more-or-less just displayed a similar willingness to sacrifice the rest of the country out of a similar desperation, the metaphor worked for me.

The fact that they are able to go back to a version of their old life after having that experience doesn't negate what came before. By the end, Mae has come to accept that as much as she might want to go back to something familiar, something remembered, nothing stays the same. Gregg and Angus are still going to move away at some point, Bea's got a different kind of life she's trying to build for herself. And Mae's going to have to find her way through all of that. Getting together for one last band practice at the end I think was a nice culmination of everything that came before, a last point of familiarity before embarking on an uncertain future.

Staff
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#20 Edited by ClairvoyantVibrations (1592 posts) -

@alex: Well thanks for writing out exactly what I was going to come to this thread to write out. Probably in a better, more easily understandable way. All that's left for me to do is clarify one thing:

The kid who gets kidnapped at Harfest is from a place near Possum Springs (or it could be a district of the town, it's never exactly stated) called Mulvay. Mae asks the teens who hang out in the tunnel if anyone is missing, and one of them says someone they know online from Mulvay hasn't been heard from since Harfest. Mae then implies that Mulvay is a terrible place, and tells the teens that they shouldn't even drive through it when one of them suggests checking it out. This conversation is totally missable, but adds a lot of context to the kidnapping, Casey's disappearance, and the fanatic nature of the cult.

It makes sense that the cult would abduct someone from Mulvay. From Mae's description, it's generally populated by people the cult deem unnecessary for the "greater good", so to speak. They never really get into whether people are looking for the kid, but I like to assume that their parents would, like Casey's parents did for him. It's just that no one in Possum Springs itself really cares because of Mulvay's reputation, and therefore a wider search is never conducted (except of course, the search done by Aunt Mall Cop. But I have my suspicions about her...)

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