It’s rare that I become so smitten with an indie title that is still in development, but Night In The Woods shows promise that excites me. Developed by multi award-winning indie developer and composer Alec Holowka (Aquaria, Towerfall, & Offspring Fling) and animator/illustrator Scott Benson, Night In The Woods could be very important for the indie genre.

Night In The Woods is a 2D adventure game with a focus on exploration. Set in the town of Possum Springs, the player will have the opportunity to explore a large world as they uncover the mysterious secrets of the town and those who live in it. Minigames and other forms of ‘extracurriculars’ are promised to be enjoyed as well. Not to mention, the town takes on a new personality come nightfall.

And while everyone loves a good mystery and fun, Night In The Woods utilizes what makes indie games great: the ability to delve into and experience very personal feelings. On the surface, NITW would appear cynical and angsty, which it is, but in a realistic sense. It expresses young adult angst. That awkward, and often painful, transitional period where you have to leave places and faces behind and sometimes be left behind yourself. It explores the second phase of growing pains: young adulthood. Whether it’s dropping out of college, suddenly not being able to go to college anymore, or having to take on adult responsibilities you don’t feel ready for, Night In The Woods covers some very real emotions. Infinite Ammo expresses what a personal journey the game is for them on their Kickstarter page.

“Night In The Woods comes from a deep place for us. That point where you sense things are changing and it’s time to move on but you just don’t know how. Knowing that everything will end someday, and wondering how well we’ll be able to meet it when it happens. How long we’ll be able to hold on, and when we should let go. When to accept and when to fight.”

Sure, it’s fun to play as a personified  animal with emotions and struggles you identify with, but the developers take it a step further. The characters in their game seem very neutral in terms of gender identity. Mae is a girl, yes, but you don’t see her wearing a bow or dress to showcase that. It’s this neutrality that will, I think, make the game more relateable to a wider audience, allowing players to fill in pieces of themselves.


Naturally, with Alec Holowka’s hand on the helm, it’s no surprise that NITW already promises an outstanding soundtrack. Of the previewed tracks (in the trailer and one sampled on the game’s Kickstarter page), it feels like this soundtrack will culminate new-age indie instrumentals and sounds with hints of fun classic 8-bit-esque melodies and elements. Holowka’s soundtrack appears to perfectly aide the game’s atmosphere and impact.

Animation in Night In The Woods also stands out. While body language tends to be the primary communicator for animals, NITW personifies its furry characters more by focusing on the more humanistic emotional display: eyes. Whether they’re wide and hopeful for a new job, barely open and cast downward as to not face the disappointing reality, or still and emotionless as another day of a robotic life continues, these characters express plethora of emotion with their eyes. This partnered with interesting layered backgrounds and alternate night coloration scheme help to make this indie game truly come alive.

Night In The Woods

I’m not the only one who has taken interest in this quirky indie title. The game was fully funded on Kickstarter in just 26 hours and has more than tripled its original $50,000 goal at the time this article was written. After Kickstarter funding expires for the game on November 22nd, the developers plan to use the increase in funds to help make “the development more stable and secure financially” and work on bringing the game to other consoles, amongst other things. Once released, Night In The Woods is sure to be meaningful member of the indie game community.

Images courtesy of Scott Benson
GIF created by Joshua Dancer

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