John: I’m very excited to see what’s coming in this month’s Director’s Cut of Night In The Woods. It’s because I’m wondering if one of my favourite games of 2017 might be getting a better ending.
Endings aren’t nearly as important as it’s often argued. I adored Night In The Woods in many ways. It is, one one level, one of the most extraordinary pieces of gaming writing I can remember, set in a vividly beautiful 2D world, exploring a mindset utterly different from any of my own experiences. I was transported into this disaffected space of directionless ennui and depression, unlike any of my own muddle of mental illness. I really cannot think of another game that has so effectively and affectingly had me experience someone else’s life. Although this experience isn’t without qualification.
The silly ending has no impact on any of that, really. It does rather rewrite a lot of what I thought was happening, and none of it for the better, but it doesn’t take away from any of the incredible moments along the way. The terrible fight my cat-like character Mae has with her mum, and the crazed need I felt to patch things up with her following, sticks with me months later. And the incidental, the overheard conversations, the snippets of other characters’ lives, that I pieced together into meaningful narratives as I walked by. And so, so many other things.
It took me a long while to find my way in. I struggled to like the game’s voice for the longest time. And then, the more I lived it, the more I understood it. I resented Mae’s perspective, I wanted to shake her, tell her to recognise just how much she has, to snap out of her behaviour. All horrible, terrible responses. The more time I spent with her, the more I understood her, if not empathised with her.
And I struggled with the lack of involvement for too long. For many hours, your main role is to press “next”. As I said in my review, “I would absolutely watch this TV show, but I really resent being asked to crank a handle to do so.” This begins to change.
But it all pales when I remember. When I think back to moments, conversations, late-night emotionally exhausted outbursts, and mall break-ins. I adore it as I recall it. I think that’s what matters most.
Alice: Unlike John ‘The Dad’ Walker, I empathise with Mae too much. Oh god, all too much. So I like all the colours and antics and adventures and crimes and friends as well as the oh so many regrets and so emotional gaps that are hard to look at, let alone cross. I’m definitely not onboard with that handle-cranking comment either; beyond the importance of exploring the town myself, even just getting around I was happy bouncing on cars and kicking through leaves.
What a wonderful tired town full of wonderful tired people.