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Game Review

Night in the Woods is a little indie game, first released early last year, that's gained quite a bit of interest and praise. And since it was just released for the Nintendo Switch console as well, it seems the perfect time for us to talk about it—especially since, at first glance, it sure looks like a kid-friendly, children's storybook-style game.

This side-scrolling, interactive-narrative title features adorable anthropomorphized animal characters that look like 2D construction-paper cutouts walking around in a cartoonish virtual town called Possum Springs.

But for all of its paper-and-scissors kiddish appeal, the central story here is waaay past grade school.

Mae B. Not

The game's hero is a large-eyed, unruly little cat named Mae Borowski. She's a twentysomething college drop-out who's returning home because, well, she just might be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She flops back into her disheveled bedroom in her parents' attic and then proceeds to spend the next several weeks shuffling around town reconnecting with old friends who haven't gotten out, and chewing the fat with old neighbors who are barely hanging on.

Mae, we find out, is a former delinquent of sorts who has long suffered from some sort of dissociative emotional disorder. And ever since she beat up a local kid with a baseball bat and sent him to the hospital, she's been barely coping with even the average stuff of daily life.

And for all of its colorful falling leaves and cute scampering squirrels, Possum Springs has been wrestling with its share of issues, too. It's a struggling, Middle America mining town that seems to be dying out, one business and one bailing family at a time. The economy is horrible, jobs are scarce, people are mysteriously going missing and, well, small-town life as a whole is pretty much in the doldrums.

Angst in the Heartland

That's really what this interactive game seeks to explore, and what some critics have praised about it: Night in the Woods is all about the angst and confusion of being a young adult trying to find his or her place in a troubled, beleaguered world. If that sounds a bit melancholy, well, yeah it kinda can be. The game's redeeming aspect is that amid all that anxiety, the story interactions also explore the virtues of good friends, as well as the benefits of humor and solid family relationships.

That said, there's still a lot here that Mom and Dad should be aware of before any of the kiddos dive in. This may be a T-rated title, but as Mae connects with old buds—a whacky guy named Gregg and his live-in boyfriend Angus, and a chain-smoking crocodile girl named Bea—they chat about sex, pornography, psychological anguish, financial stress, the joys of crime, their disregard for police and other mature subjects. (The narrative stops short of actually showing anything explicit; but it's not rainbows and lollipops, either.)

These friends also go out drinking and smoking in the woods with other local teens, where Mae gets riotously drunk. Mae and Gregg play a knife game where they stab each other's hands. Some conversations wander into spiritual subjects. However, these are mostly dark discussions that swirl around evil local happenings, namely a cult and evidence of human sacrifices.

Add in nasty language—including s-words, uses of "a--," "h---," "d--mit," misuses of God's name and f-bomb shorthand such as "Eff the cops"—and you've got a game that goes to places you might never expect.

Yep, there are indeed lots of cutesy, colorful visuals in Night in the Woods. We get a dash of mini-game platforming fun. And the dialogue can be compelling, too.

But "kid-friendly" ain't a phrase you'd ever use to describe life in Possum Springs.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

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Episode Reviews



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Record Label


Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC




February 1, 2018

On Video

Year Published



Bob Hoose

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